Be productive, not busy

Nigerians are a very busy people. If you go to a Government Office and need something signed, the person holding the stamp is bound to tell you to wait a few hours because they are busy. Never mind, they don’t seem to be doing anything. We are in a hurry to beat traffic lights and complain when KAROTA stops us and demand that we pay a fine. We should be forgiven. We are busy people who just happen to be in a hurry and the light should have stayed green just a few seconds longer. We try to cut queues because we are busy. Should I go on?

A busy man on social media
Doing what?

If you are familiar with this situation, perhaps you also believe you are busy. That might be true. It just isn’t good for you. Let’s do a quick exercise. Get a pen and paper (or a note taking app). Do you believe you were busy today? Good. Now write down all you achieved in your busyness. Take your time. This article will wait. Did you actually get anything productive done? For many people, this is the time they start struggling to remember what they did? Trust me, if you were doing something productive, you would remember it (because you would have planned for it).

Being busy is not a sign of productivity. People stay busy because activity makes them feel good even if it’s low value activity. It’s easy to procrastinate on getting that report written if you spend two hours setting the paper margins and selecting the best font for the report. Never mind your boss probably doesn’t care which font or margin you use as long as the report is readable. Busyness is focused on low value activities. It is not what you want to be doing.

A desk with a computer and a cup of tea on it
All set for productivity

When you are productive (not busy), it means you manage your tasks and focus on those that lead to achievement of long term goals. You are not rushing from place to place trying to convince yourself the Republic will fall if you don’t get that pounded yam and egusi combo on time. Instead, you are creating time blocks where you work on high value tasks with deep focus. After that, you can take a casual stroll and get your favourite lunch combo.

Busyness causes anxiety. Busy people are never where they need to be. Productive people plan their day so they know where exactly they should be. Anxiety and stress will kill you about as fast as a cigarette a day habit. If you want serenity, be productive. Not busy.

The next time you start thinking you are busy, ask yourself: with what? Let me know the results.

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