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One of the traps many of us fall into is the trap of believing that being busy is the same thing as getting things done. Unfortunately, there are times when being swamped by your tasks can pull away from a focus on productivity.

Many of us tend to see being busy as a badge of honor. However, just doing a lot and running from place to place doesn’t actually mean you’re accomplishing anything. Rather than packing your day with a lot of activities, consider the types of things you’re doing — and whether or not they are actually helping your business.

Figure Out the Highest-Value Activities for Your Business

The first step to developing a focus on productivity is to determine the highest-value tasks for your business. What are the tasks that offer you the best return for your investment of time and effort?

One of the ways to evaluate activities is to use the Pareto principle. The idea is that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your activities. Take the time to figure out what that 20% consists of.

While you will need to accomplish other mundane tasks that don’t offer a direct return, the reality is that you are probably spending an outsized amount of time on the things that aren’t as helpful to your business.

Identify what matters, and work on those items, or get some of your best people to work on those items.

Prioritize Your Tasks

Next, if you want to focus on productivity, it’s important to prioritize. Take a look at your schedule and your business plan. What needs to be done today? What are the tasks that are important to accomplish in the coming week?

Don’t let yourself get sidetracked by other items that seem to pop up out of nowhere. I constantly have to remind myself that a non-urgent text or Facebook message doesn’t have to be answered immediately. I can wait until later.

Pay attention to the priorities and stay focused on those items as you move forward. Also, let your employees know what the priorities are, and reward them for sticking to the priorities. That way, you are more likely to succeed in the long run with overall productivity.

Move Away from Reaction

Finally, one of the keys to shifting to a focus on productivity is to engage in strategic planning rather than always reacting. When you’re always responding to a meeting request or constantly involved in emails, you are reacting to what’s happening.

While there are times you need to react quickly, most of the time you don’t. You are better off making strategic plans and following through with them.

Don’t feel like you have to constantly show others that you are running around being busy. Instead, plan ahead and work on the tasks most likely to move your business forward. Stop reacting and take positive action to focus on productivity. Don’t equate the number of things done with accomplishment.

Instead, take a look at what will really matter to your business and help you succeed. Those are the things you should be doing.

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I'm Miranda and I'm a freelance financial journalist and money expert. My specialties are investing, small business/entrepreneurship and personal finance. The journey to business success and financial freedom is best undertaken with fellow travelers.

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