Action vs Activity

Action vs Activity

How to waste time – not knowing the distinction between action and activity


The distinction between action and activity is one of the most fundamental distinctions we must make in our lives.

Action is what accomplishes our objectives, propels our professional and personal lives forward, produces the results we desire, and gets the job done. It is extremely rewarding, but it is also likely to be difficult and difficult.

All of the activities we engage in in order to avoid taking action are referred to as activity. Surprisingly, activity often appears to our colleagues or even ourselves to be better than action. In trying to drive results in business, one of your top priorities should be productive, focused thinking. Unfortunately, when compared to making phone calls, responding to emails, attending meetings, and generally rushing around, thinking appears to be “lazy.” Activity must occur, and it can be productive if it leads to a goal.

I’ve felt for several months, and still do from time to time, that I’m wasting my time “moving around air” but not getting anywhere. I’m busy, and I don’t feel like I can avoid doing things for fear of delaying others’ activities or actions. Nonetheless, I have the impression that no *real* progress is being made.

If you’ve fallen into the activity trap, you’ve probably done one of the following:

a) There is never enough time to think. (Thinking is the most important action you can take.)
b) You work until lunchtime and don’t have a set end time for the evening. (A lack of proper breaks reduces your productivity.)
c) You are unable to exercise due to a lack of time. (A lack of exercise reduces your productivity and shortens your lifespan.) d) You don’t have time for a personal life. (What chance do the rest of your priorities make sense if your personal life isn’t a top priority for you?)
e) You never have enough time to do the things you truly desire. (Then what’s the point of all that effort?)
f) You’re always doing things that other people could do, rather than  focusing on the things that only you can do.

When we take action, on the other hand, we are attempting to do things that will improve our business results. We can influence or have an impact by taking action. We progress from simply being busy to truly adding value.

I believe we spend too much time in activity mode at times. We established groups, workstreams, project plans, and a meeting schedule. To share with the executive team, we create beautiful Powerpoint slides. We take pride in the fact that everything is neat and tidy. However, this diverts attention from other things and focuses time and energy on them.

Yes, these things must be done, as long as we get to the action phase quickly.

I’d prefer to see us act in a more haphazard or “less precise” manner. We may not have all of the necessary slides on hand, and we may not meet every week at 2 p.m. on Thursday. There may be some bumps in the road, as well as some sharp edges.
But, if our more messy approach results in more action, I believe we should go for it!
The foundations, employee experience, customer experience, sales, workflows, productivity, profit, and revenue are all improved through action.

The Stop Doing list is your most effective weapon in the war against activity. Make a ruthless list of activities that you will no longer participate in. Continue to expand it. Rather than spreading their energies too thinly, most businesses (and lives) thrive when they focus on a few core objectives. Time is similar to money. You should go through a process of deciding which projects to fully fund when you budget. If you are unable to fully fund a project, it should not be undertaken.

As you consider your day, week, or month… Are you in charge of your processes or your company? Are you incredibly busy, or are you devoting your time to actions that will have an impact and influence?


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