Man with lots of arms, each holding something work-related (a clipboard, a phone, a calculator, a Post-It note, a notepad. etc.) sitting at desk in front of a laptop, looking overwhelmed

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, “did you achieve something”. You pause, think, and then reply, “absolutely not: I’ve just been 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. So what is it? It’s to start by being careful what you focus your time on.

Instead of focusing on doing stuff, focus on being effective.

One of the easiest ways to become more effective is to have a clear outcome in mind. When you start your day – and before you start any tasks – have a clear outcome in your mind (or down on paper) of what that day would look like if it was to be successful.

You can apply this to individual tasks as well. It just takes 30 seconds. Think what will make the task successful. Jot it down on a post it note and stick it to your desk.

For example, before a phone call with a client or a meeting with your team, have a clear outcome in mind. By being effective like this, you’ll find you are more focused in meetings, more driven towards achieving your goals and more likely to make progress towards your long-term objectives. When you start making more progress each day, you’ll be amazed how much more effective you can be each week, month and quarter.

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.

PS Did you know the ‘business’ come from an old English word ‘bisignis’ from 300 years ago. That word means ‘anxiety’ and is now associated with the term busyness. Don’t be anxious; be focused on your business outcomes.

Posted by Pete Wilkinson

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