Tuesday, May 28, 2024

[OPINION] A Million Dollar Question: Are you Busy or Productive?

By Hannah Patricia Abril | April 17, 2021

News flash: There’s a large chasm between being busy and being productive.

If you thought both words (and action) go hand in hand, you might want to think again.

On a personal note, I had the mindset that I need to bombard myself with tasks and responsibilities to make myself valid and significant. And the only way to do that is to become busy. 

When the pandemic rose and we had no choice but to proceed with the virtual set up, I imagined Online Distance Learning (ODL) to be super chill; more Netflix time, more sleeping time, and more trying-to-get-this-TikTok-dance-right time. As a self-acclaimed crammer and procrastinator, these got me all hyped up.

But boy, was I wrong.

Ever since ODL happened, I was busier than ever. I get more projects and reports than I used to, I had more online meetings than the number of times I brushed my teeth (it’s either once a day or never), and my “break time” is running for my mother’s errands and doing chores.

Did you know it’s hard to mix being a good daughter with being a good student? If you were in my shoes, you choose between flying colors or flying tsinelas on a daily basis. Pick one with the highest survival rate.

And it’s not just academics. As sillimanians, we are influenced—compelled-to be part of at least one or two extra-curriculars. That’s not because we’re required to, but one factor would go back in the ancient times when we had face-to-face classes, we had so much time in our hands, we HAD to join an organization to kill time. Nobody wants to return to their dorms and boarding houses while the sun is up! The answer? Join an org.

So we have academics, extracurricular responsibilities, and slave–este–housework. Plus, lets not forget the hustling students kasi walang baon sa bahay, the freelancers. 

With all these in our plates, we may feel that just because it’s full, and our days are jam-packed with to-do-lists, we are “accomplished and competent students.”

I hate to break it up to you, but it’s not.

We’re used to thinking that doing more must mean achieving more. We see posts of “10 Morning Routines of Highly Successful People” on our feeds and over-quoted mantras of “Susuka pero hindi susuko.” But this ideal and mindset is just a way of pacifying the fact that all of us are actually tired and struggling.

According to a 2018 national survey by Headspace, an Australian National Youth Mental Health Foundation, they found that 83.2 percent of university students report feeling stressed, and 82.1 percent are lacking in motivation.

At times, we book ourselves so much because everyone’s doing it, or we need to score a 5-page CV to secure employment, or simply because we can’t trust anybody with a certain responsibility. Sad to say, these kinds of behaviour causes us to inch closer to a burnout.

And like I said in the first part of this column, there’s a huge chasm between being a ‘Busy Bee’ and being a ‘Productive Paul’. We may come to the point and realize that with so many commitments in our hands, we’re producing shallow work. The hours are running and the day has almost ended, but we still didn’t finish that wretched assignment.

How can you tell that you’re a busy person? According to Jennifer Cohen, a contributor in Forbes, a busy person “spends all their time doing research, trying to learn all the possibilities,  creating long to-do lists, and trying to make things perfect before they start… Busy people tend to be overthinkers and they have an incredible ability to expand their tasks to the amount of time they have available.”

And FYI, a busy person is NOT a lazy person. The latter simply just doesn’t do anything, unlike the former that does everything out of the fear of imperfection. He works too hard trying to paint a rocket pink and sprinkling it with glitter before launching it to the sky.

If you’re guilty with this like I am, then it’s time to reevaluate our commitments and responsibilities, and how we commonly finish a task. It’s time to become a “results-driven” productive person. 

To become one, we have to let go of our rigid idea of success and achievement, and start thinking small. In other words, focus on the single tasks one-at-a-time and try not to mix everything in one bowl. Success is not a salad, Theresa.

“Learn to set smaller, accomplishable goals….Keep the big long-term goals but then set smaller daily goals to get there… Setting daily goals that are attainable helps you stay on track getting the most important things done even when you get side tracked with “busy work.” Cohen stated.
With a few weeks left before finals, there’s still ample time to change our perspective towards getting things done. I hope you choose to take care of yourself and I hope you choose to be productive.


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