12 June 2014 ~ 4 Comments

How to know if you are getting work done, or just keeping busy…

 In a modern world we are bombarded by interaction, communication, and stimuli.  In an attempt to stand out, and build loyalty, some mediums use gamification methods of points, badges, and leaderboards to create emotional and mental responses associated with the intrinsic values of success and accomplishment, but are you really getting anything done?

I know that I personally have spent entire days in conversation and social media and although I may have gotten an extra 3,000 points at my favorite gizmo, I look back on the day and realize I haven’t technically accomplished much.  In a gamified world it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and fun of contests and feel like you are actually achieving quite a lot, but is it really helping you reach your goals?

Here are a few steps you can take when you are completing tasks that may help you decide if you are actually accomplishing something, or just keeping busy.

Set Goals

The easiest way is to set a goal for yourself.  What is it you are trying to accomplish?  Now when you are completing tasks, you can ask yourself. ‘Is this helping me achieve my goals?’  It can also help you form your day by creating an outline of what you need to do that will help you achieve your goals, and limiting yourself to just those tasks.

Be Selfish

I’m not saying you have to be ME ME ME, but when you are completing something.. ask yourself, what’s in it for me?  Is what I am doing actually benefiting me in a real, meaningful, way?  Or am I being mentally tricked into benefiting another content creator or service provider?  You don’t have to do everything for you, in fact I’ve found my greatest joys have come from being able to help other people — but even in those cases, helping others can be extremely self serving.. is what you are doing something that is, or may in the future be, benefiting you? Or are you just keeping busy consuming content?

Create a Process

Breaking down your goals into small steps can help you get through day to day tasks with quick efficiency, and skip out on what makes you FEEL accomplished, but really isn’t doing anything.  With so much on the internet gamified (some are very sneaky about it) it’s easy to feel accomplished by earning a few points, getting new followers, or collecting a couple widgets, but defining your process and creating a list of tasks you want to accomplish for the day can help you make sure you achieve what needs to be done.

Make a to do list

Starting a day or week off with a list of what you’d like to accomplish over that period of time.  This is a simple process that almost feels pretty remedial while you are doing it, but it can do a lot for helping you to stay on task and being able to mark things off the list can make you feel accomplished, creating a rush that gets you craving to accomplish more.

Make a done list

A great exercise is at the end of each day (or throughout the day) write a ‘done’ list of the things you have accomplished that day, go through your list and see how many of these things actually aligned with your original goals, this will help you reflect on the things you do and realize the decisions you are making ‘on the fly.’  Sometimes just writing it down and looking over the things you have done, and how in line they are with your goals, can help you be more aware of how you are spending your time.


Many of us who are self employed, or trying to start a small business can feel like we’ve spent the entire 16+ hour day working, but sometime’s it can be difficult to measure how much you REALLY accomplished during that time… are you getting things done, or just staying busy?

I’m not saying to give up your favorite game or your social hour, but without a clear schedule and alignment of your goals, these things can quickly begin to take over, and many websites have become very good at making a mindless activity feel like an accomplishment.  Following these simple steps can help you work more efficiently, actually creating even more time for your favorite entertaining tasks.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
  • http://www.seansupplee.com/ Sean Supplee

    Gamification can go a long way if done correctly and you don’t mislead your members into doing non productive things. By building a quality easy to follow and rewarding system you can both build your own business while keeping people who stay on the path successful and learn valuable tools.

  • MattKoshko

    Great post, John. I absolutely agree the distractions thrown at us every day constantly take away from productivity. Gamification is certainly not something to ignore, but with careful consideration, it shouldn’t devalue the purpose. In fact, it should (if done well) add value.

    The ‘Make a done list’ is great – I started doing so about a year ago so I could see what I actually accomplished, and then be able to judge progress compared to what was on the ‘To do list’. Most importantly it helps to show whether you spent the time you with what needed the attention…or if that time was spent on Youtube watching cat videos.

    ::closes Youtube::

    • http://insidmaldesign.com insidmal

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with watching cat videos on youtube, so long as you are actually spending some of your time getting work done as well.. cat videos can easily take over your day, lol

  • Catherine D. White

    (Standing Ovation) Yes, John Bell, this post gets a standing ovation from me.

    I love the: “Make a to do List” and then following it up with “Make a done List”. This is a brilliant strategy which everyone should do for a full week. Then look back and see how much you have accomplished. I think this would definitely cut down on people getting side-tracked.

    The “Gamification” of many sites has blurred the lines of accomplishment. I love the measurement you use of- did what you accomplish today help you meet your goal. If your goal is to be on a Top Team or to have the Largest Collection, then you will love gamification sites. But, if you are working online to make some extra cash you will quickly realize these accomplishments are NOT helping you make that goal. For me, I’m working trying to build an online income. That is my Goal. Knowing your goal can be key to managing your time.

    Great post John Bell.