What's the Difference Between Busy vs Productive vs Valuable?

How you can stop wasting time and money on the wrong actions

There was a time when I would load up my calendar and todo list with as many items as they could hold. I would even double-book meetings just to cut one short so I could make it to the other one.

I was truly lost and misguided.

All I cared about was being busy. Adding more things to my plate. My goal used to be to become a master of multitasking and be even busier than I was last quarter. I didn't even stop to think about whether what I was busy doing even mattered. But that all changed several years ago when I took a step back and asked myself what really mattered.

I asked myself one question...

What is the difference between being busy, being productive and being valuable?

This may seem like a simple question but it's a question that few people ask themselves. And it should be asked often when deciding what they should focus on and what actions to take to grow in the personal lives, careers and businesses.

I only arrived at the answer to the question by looking at the definitions of the words "busy", "productive" and "valuable"

Busy - having a great deal to do.

Productive - achieving or producing a significant amount or result.

Valuable - the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

These definitions formed the framework for one of my systems for determining whether a task or project is valuable or not. I hope it helps more people not be busy or be productive but be valuable. You can view the system and duplicate it to your Notion board using the link below.

In this system, I use the table below to determine if a task or project is busy, productive or valuable.

Growthipedia - What's the difference between busy vs productive vs valuable table

I also use a series of 3 questions in checklist form to determine if a task or project has value.

Growthipedia - What's the difference between busy vs productive vs valuable checklist

Over the years I've internalized this mental framework to the point where it only takes a split second to know whether I'm being honest with myself about whether something is just busy work, busy work disguised as productive work or truly valuable work. This system has saved me thousands of hours and allows me to deliver results that are valuable in my life, career and business.

Busy vs Productive Video

The video below talks about tasks being busy work versus being productive, but it leaves out the crucial point of tasks being valuable.

Busy vs Productive Quotes

"Do the hard jobs first. Easy jobs will take care of themselves." – Dale Carnegie

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” –Theodore Roosevelt

“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.”– Leo Babauta

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”– Albert Einstein

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