Are You Productive or Just Busy?

Nicole Christie image

“How are you?”

“Busy. So busy. Crazy busy.”

Sound familiar? I feel like it’s the refrain of our times – the theme song to the twisted perception that the more we’re juggling, the more we’re on the run, the more we’re scheduled to the millisecond, the better we are. Yet how often do we stop to ask ourselves, “Why am I doing all of this?”

Instead, we approach life reactively. We say yes without thinking, run errands willy-nilly, jump when our devices chime, and take on way more than necessary. But if, like me, you’re on board the S.S. Stop the Madness, it’s time to put an end to busy and a start to productive. And that means getting intentional about what you’re doing and why:

  • Reflect and Introspect: To get clear on your intentions, you have to make time to process. For me, that’s walking three miles every morning to mull over what I’m doing and whether it aligns with my priorities: writing (both my business and passion projects), relationships, and well-being (exercise and quiet time).
  • Rule of Three: Aim to schedule no more than three key projects/events per day. Maybe that’s work, errands, and date night. Or an outing with your child, a client meeting, and a passion project. (Yes, just three. You can do this.)
  • Less Yes, More No: Run every request through the intention filter. Do you want to do this or do you feel obligated? If you want it, is it good for you? If it’s an obligation, is it necessary or just people-pleasing?

There are always things we can’t dismiss (work, family, the ever-diminishing supply of toilet paper). But when we’re clear on our intentions and we act accordingly, we’re not busy – we’re productive. We’re not exhausted – we’re pleasantly spent. And we’re not frantic – we’re fulfilled.


Nicole Christie is a writer, storyteller, and the principal and creative director of NICO, Inc. – a one-woman firm specializing in fresh, honest, engaging employee and marketing communications for Fortune 500 corporations, leading-edge creative firms, and rapidly growing new technology companies. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and at


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