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Busy being busy, or busy being productive?

By Daniel Francis

In today’s article, I want to put on my Leadership Development Coach cap. I think it is important that we become our most productive selves in the different areas of our lives. Yet, I see many putting efforts into the wrong places.

As a coach, I often see people busy being busy —meaning they are working hard but they are not producing significant results. What they have missed, and what we all miss from time to time, is that just because we are putting in work does not mean  it is productive work. The goal should be to be busy being productive, and this concept looks completely different.

There is a concept called the Pareto Principle. It states that 80 per cent of your actions yield 20 per cent of your results (busy being busy). Conversely, 20 per cent of your actions yield 80 per cent of your results (busy being productive). Think about this for a moment. Wouldn’t you like to invest in that 20 per cent of actions that produce 80 per cent of your results?

Maybe you are asking yourself how it is possible that such a small portion of your workload can produce that many results. I am here to tell you that it can, and once you can understand how to harness it properly, you will reach new heights.

It all has to do with your High Payoff Activities (HPAs). These are the expression of the 20 per cent of activities that will produce the most results. Your ability to produce more results lies in your competency to identify your HPAs in your everyday activities.

Let me give you an example. One of my goals is to find five more people who need to get their books published and would like to use my publishing services. When I created this goal, I produced the following steps:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Calling prospective clients
  3. Sending publishing proposals
  4. Following up with prospective clients
  5. Administrative work
  6. Publishing work

All of these steps are important and move the needle forward in their way. Still, when I look at the list, the HPA is clear, and if I invest the majority of my time in that activity, I will produce more results.

The HPA in this case is number 1: Prospecting — identifying potential clients so I can prepare to reach out to them. I have identified this as a HPA because if I don’t have anyone to reach out to in the first place, there will be no calls to make, proposals to send, follow-ups to do, or publishing work to do. After all, I would have no clients.

Some would invest their time in the wrong activities and wonder why they are yielding such meagre results because they are living in that 80 per cent of activities that yield the 20 per cent of the results.

Take a moment to think about your most important goal. What are the steps involved in achieving this goal? Which step is the HPA? How much time would you need to invest in that HPA for this goal to be overwhelmingly successful? The switch from busy being busy to busy being productive can be as easy as answering those questions and channelling the majority of your time and effort toward that identified HPA.

God wants us to be our best selves. A more productive you will help add to a better society. It simply takes a small investment in intentionality but will yield great results.

So, the question is, do you want to continue along this path of busy being busy, or do you want to be more intentional and choose to be busy being productive?


Daniel Francis is a millennial helping other millennials. He is a two-time author of the books The Millennial Mind and The Millennial Experience, and an entrepreneur. Over the past four years, he has served as a Personal Development Coach whose work targets Millennials and helps them tap into their full potential. He is also a self-publishing coach and has guided hundreds on self-publishing their book successfully.


LinkedIn: Daniel Francis

IG: o.m.publishing