Written by Pete Wilkinson

Last updated 26 August 2021 ·

Focus on business, not busyness!

You’ve probably had one of these days:

You work really hard. After a long day, you get home and say to your partner, mate, parent, child or dog, “I’ve not stopped today”. They reply, “what did you achieve today?”. You pause, think, and then respond, “absolutely nothing: I’ve just been busy doing stuff!”

We’ve all been there.

We’ve confused business with busyness.

It’s an easy mistake to make. However, what is amazing is that the solution is also easy. Start by being more aware of what you focus your time on, and choose tasks more carefully.

Instead of just rushing into busyness and focusing on doing stuff, ask yourself what impact each task will have on overall business performance? This will help shift your focus towards being more effective.

One of the easiest ways to become more effective is to have a clear outcome in mind. As you start your day, before you begin any tasks, have a clear outcome in your mind (or better still, write it down on paper) of what that day would look like if it were to be successful. You can apply this to any individual or personal task, and it only takes a few minutes. Jot this down on a Post-it note and stick it on your desk right in front of you as a constant reminder of what you want to achieve that day. If you are a business leader, setting aside some time for deep thinking can be very productive. Check out our blog 3 ways to think about your business - the power of concentrated thought.

Remind yourself of the overall purpose; what is the business trying to achieve? Do you have business KPIs or OKRs to guide you in terms of business focus and direction? These aspects will help you identify what a successful outcome looks like. For more information on outcome thinking, visit our blog entitled Are you learning to reach your goals?

You can apply this to all aspects of your role at all levels. For example, before a client phone call or a team meeting, decide on a clear outcome and visualise what success would look like within those scenarios. This practice will help you become more focused in meetings, more driven towards achieving your goals and more likely to progress towards your longer-term objectives. When you start making more progress each day, you’ll be amazed at how much more effective you can be each week, month and quarter. If you are new to goals setting, visit our blog 10 goals setting tips including Warren Buffett’s key to success.

We all have days from time to time that seem to run away with themselves. I’m no different. But, by getting a bit clearer about what outcomes we want, we’ll at least have more productive days more often, and we’ll move closer to achieving our vision.

In short, focus on always having an outcome.

For more information on improving focus and time management, visit our blog 5 ways to better focus your time or get in touch by emailing We are always happy to help people get better at being more effective.

PS Did you know the word ‘business’ comes from the old English word ‘bisignis’ originating more than 300 years ago. This word actually means ‘anxiety’ and is now associated with the term busyness. Don’t be anxious; be focused on your business purpose and producing great business outcomes.

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