Don’t “Just Do It” … “Get ‘er DONE”! That’s the Difference Between Activity vs Action.
You’re busting your butt and working hard, yet too many long days end with a nagging feeling that you haven’t gotten much done — at least not much that you (and your boss) deem really important.
Despite your labors, the fruits of those labors are not showing up on the tree.
There are many culprits: poor prioritization, multitasking and task-switching, convenient mental “escapes” to time-wasting social media, to name a few. But…
Deleting emails and retweeting are ACTIVITIES. Writing important emails is ACTION.
The Real Problem: You’re Losing the Battle of Activity vs. Action.
The key is to distinguish the weak behavior (activity) from the strong (action). Then you must re-wire your workflow to focus on action, so you can crush distractions and drive real results.
The Difference Between Action and Activity
Action is purpose-driven and strategic. It’s made up of deliberate tasks that are crucial to moving you toward your important goals and vision. Action moves things forward, gets stuff done.
Activity is the range of tasks that create the illusion of action. When unassociated with a strategic purpose, activity doesn’t really move you forward. Activity is often the pseudo-productivity we engage in to avoid taking action. You may have heard the term “pseudo-productivity.” Same thing.
For example, writing and sending an important email that makes something new happen, that resolves a client question or that commands others to get busy on your agenda – that’s action. Repeatedly checking your emails, or going through them to delete a bunch – that’s activity.
To be fair, cleaning out your email inbox, de-cluttering your desk, and doing laundry all need to get done and often are necessary to work efficiently. But, when those activities are repeatedly pursued when a strategic action is at the top of your to-do list, that’s activity — and that’s, in effect…procrastination!
Some Ways to Steer Clear of Activity and Stay Engaged in Action
- Identify your strong and weak times during the day. Use your weak times for activity, reserving your strong times for action. Schedule your deeper thinking during your strong time, when you can better fend off distractions.
- Give yourself permission to just think. Schedule time to think. Put it on your calendar. When you give yourself room to think, your important goals will naturally float to the top, followed by new ideas for the paths toward them.
- When you think, prioritize: If you don’t have two or three priorities in front of you on a big-ass sticky note every time you sit down to work, you’re gonna get busy with activity!
- Singletask. Once you’ve set priorities for the day, pick one and set a timer – 20 or 30 or 90 minutes – to work on that one thing. Single-tasking is the single most powerful way to steer clear of activity and escapes.
- Get an accountability partner or a coach, which will double your willpower, increasing action and results.
Bottom line, now that you know the difference between the two, make a commitment to action. There is always something you can do to move the important stuff forward! (Just as there is always some potential ‘escape’ activity nearby!)
P.S.: In Episode 15 at CrusherTV.com, I really get into the nitty gritty of this topic and give you the tools to stop spinning your wheels and get on the road to true productivity. Plus, I talk with clinical therapist and coach Eric Tivers, who offers some great ways to re-wire your workflow and really make progress toward your goals. You can check out a preview right here.