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Are you being productive or just busy?

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It could be considered the curse of every job seeker – even every worker, for that matter.  Are you being productive, or just busy?  Are your efforts leading to reaching a clearly defined goal, or are you just in motion?

I have to watch my efforts in these areas as well.  For me, I have to recognize what are the activities that Feel important, but in actuality, have little productive effect.  My biggest drain? Email.  They pop up on the corner of my computer screen, enticing me to stop what I am doing and jump on the latest incoming message.  The problem is that few of them are deserving of this instant attention.  It takes discipline on my part to not spend all of my time in my Outlook inbox.

When looking for the busy makers in your own schedule, ask yourself:

1. Does this fit in with my plans for today?

A successful job search requires a real plan of action, every day.  Without clear goals or a set schedule for the daily activities,  it is easy to become distracted with things that keep us busy but not productive.

Write out your plans on a weekly basis, not just daily.  Create a broad strategy and then break it down into the daily tasks along with what day they will be done.  For example, Monday could be your day the check Monster, Tuesday is CareerBuilder, and so on.

When new opportunities or activities pop up, be sure to test it against your action plan for the day – which activity would be more productive towards reaching your end goal of finding a job?

2. Am I falling into bad habits?

Actions that we repeat become our habits. Habits form our daily behavior and, ultimately, our productivity.

I will share one of my bad ones: for a while, every time I logged into my computer, I would check Facebook – my personal page, not my business information.  Before I knew it, I was checking Facebook 3 or 4 times a day.  It became automatic.  The problem? It soon added up to significant time wasted because I was only “taking a minute to check.”  Sure, I am really up-to-date on grumpy cat pictures, but that is not productive – it is just busy.

Look for those small habits that eat at our productivity.  If we practice the discipline to only engage at certain times, we won’t lose precious moments.

 3. Am I falling for instant work gratification?

Job searching can be tough, simply because there is often a lack of visible progress.  Laundry, on the other hand, has an instant work gratification aspect.  It starts with a pile of dirty clothes and ends with clean, folded clothes in a drawer.  There is a sense of accomplishment because one can see a measurable and tangible result.

This happens with other work as well, not just laundry.  It could be helping a friend, volunteer work or catching up on your social media.  Whatever it is, just keep in mind your job searching priorities for the day and make sure those are met first.

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