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Are You Productive Or Busy?

Apr 12, 2017 | Operating Your Company

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

We small business owners are often in-demand — by clients, employees, relatives, creditors, debtors. The list can be quite extensive. I believe there’s a major difference between a productive owner and a busy one. The former produces measurable results, and the latter can be an accidental time-waster who stresses about stress.

You can’t block out every distraction, but here are a few tips to help you prioritize and stay focused on taking giant steps instead of putting out fires.

Measure Productivity

There are websites and technologies that can help you track your productivity, which can also help you measure profits, sales, and anything your company values that keeps its lights on. Find the right one and think of it like a camera that is filming your reality show. Your productivity levels should skyrocket from there. Remember that software critical to your business can be written off.

Stop Mistaking Voices For Mentors

I assume you are a good communicator and have several continuing dialogues with valued peers and relatives regarding your business. Everyone has an opinion or an anecdote. When you add online experts and authors to the list of authorities you’ll have an even harder time committing to what should be the simplest decisions.

For example, if you’re considering expanding your office, but are worried about the costs and risks, consult no more than a few people:

  • a nearby peer who has recently expanded (proximity’s important to get a feel for the market),
  • a relative or personal friend to prevent delusions of grandeur, and
  • your lawyer, broker or business adviser to ensure the action can be economically or strategically justified.

You’ll have enough valued feedback to make the most informed decision.

Quickly Put The Ball In Another’s Court

On the subject of voices, you will get the inevitable phone call or email from someone who believes they have an emergency. Reply that you will be in touch soon and ask them to quickly send an email detailing the problem, because you are knee deep in another project. Just by asking the person to articulate their issue in writing, you subconsciously force them to reassess its importance and buy you a little time to mentally prepare.

Worst-case: Ask them to tell you about it briefly, and email the details to yourself. The issue will somehow be documented this way.

A big part of being a business owner is putting the onus on other people, which is not to be confused with blame shifting or deflecting. If you allow every phone call and email to interrupt you, then you’re too busy being busy, rather than productive.

You’ll never be 100% productive. Emergencies do arise, your health will temporarily fail and your employees will need you to guide them. Automation and receipts are every owner’s two best friends. Place special emphasis on them, and they’ll keep you organized and productive without the stigma of being “too busy.”

Leave a comment with your productivity tips and always feel free to contact Brinen & Associates for your business’ legal needs.


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I formerly worked as a satellite employee from my home state of New Jersey. I ended my employment with my former employer in 2016. In 2018, I was sued by my former employer for $1.1 million in Illinois State Court. I was referred to Brinen & Associates, LLC by a friend who is a client of the firm. Brinen & Associates, LLC came highly recommended. I contacted Joshua Brinen and then had a consultation at his office with his colleague Mark White. Together, Messrs. Brinen and White explained my options...

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