Busyness vs Productivity

When asked how business is, we often respond with “busy”. We live in such a fast-paced world and it has become very easy to define our success by how busy we are – it has almost become a status symbol.

As business owners, being busy means that there is a lot going on. Work, and importantly money, is coming in which will keep everything moving forward.

Or will it?

In this blog, Steph Taylor provides her top tips for getting productive rather than busy!


Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean that you are being productive – it certainly doesn’t always correlate with the bottom line in our experience as freelance business support to entrepreneurs.

Being busy means that you don’t have much free time. You have a lot on your plate and, sometimes, might mean you are feeling overworked and overwhelmed.

However, productivity is all about being efficient and effective with both your time and resources. It’s about focussing on the things that will help you achieve your end goal (or big vision as we like to call it).

Being productive rather than busy is about prioritising your time, focussing on outcomes and eliminating distractions. The tips below can help you make some changes to work smarter, not harder.

9 tips for being productive and rather than busy:

TIP 1: Clarify your big vision

Write down what your ultimate goal is in business and identify the tasks and projects that are needed to get there.

TIP 2: Prioritise aligned tasks

Before you start your day, make a list of the task that align with your big vision. Focus your time and energy on them before moving on to less critical work.

TIP 3: Avoid multitasking

Multitasking is counterproductive as you end up juggling too many different things, splitting your attention and brain power. You are more likely to make mistakes or become overwhelmed and so you will then waste time fixing the issues or errors created.

TIP 4: Rhythm and breaks

Identify your ‘deep work/admin rhythm’ – for example, some like to do their most important work within 30 minutes of getting up and then have the morning on more administrative tasks. Some are night owls and like the peace of the evenings for deep work. Whatever rhythm is most productive for you, know it, understand it and harness it!

Taking breaks can make you more productive too. Your brain has a chance to rest and recharge, which can improve your focus and concentration when you return to work. It also helps when switching from one task to another.

TIP 5: Remove distractions

Distractions can be a significant barrier to productivity so you need to remove as many as you can. Turn off your phone, turn off email notifications or choose to work in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted.

TIP 6: Reward productivity

You’ll know when you’ve had a productive day, it feels different from “busy”. Reward these by recognising them in your own mind or treating yourself to something special.

TIP 7: Say no

This can be a challenge for some but learning to say no is essential to maintaining productivity. Saying yes to everything will lead to overwhelm and overload. If a request doesn’t align with your big vision or personal rhythm just say no. It’s nowhere near as hard as you might think.

TIP 8: Focus on the outcomes, not the activity

Rather than focussing on completing tasks, think about the outcomes of those tasks. Ask yourself whether the outcome is truly driving your big vision, if not, why are YOU doing it? Does it need to be done at all?

TIP 9: Self-care

To stay productive, it is essential that you look after yourself. Healthy habits will take care of your body and your mind. Sleep, good nutrition, hydration and exercise are a great place to start. You will then have the energy and focus you need to be successful and productive.

You can find out more about Steph by clicking here!

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Dyslexia and Me – my story…

Rachel is our Passionate PA based in Cheltenham. She joined us in October 2022 and now specialises in helping neurodiverse entrepreneurs achieve incredible things in business. She is an ADHD qualified VA and works with senior charity leaders who have dyslexia and ADHD.

In this blog, she shares her personal experience of dyslexia and how she believes it’s actually brought her to where she is today.

Dyslexia and me

I am not usually one to share lots of very personal insights, but this is a subject I am hugely passionate about and feel it’s an important topic to put out there for thought and discussion.

Whilst I have never been formally diagnosed with Dyslexia, all the signs are there and indicators to suggest this to be the case.

For me, school was literally hell. I was ridiculed by teachers, told I was stupid and repeatedly asked why I couldn’t I just get on with the work like all my peers. No empathy was ever shown for the struggles I faced. I clearly remember the day I met the so-called “Careers Advisor” who said I was only capable of working in a minimal job and warned me not to aim too high. You can only imagine how that 15-year-old felt when she had such big dreams for the life ahead of her.

Taking Charge

However, I am very stubborn and not one to give up. Going to college was a revelation to me, I had teachers who understood me. I was taking a course that I loved, and set on a career path that would bring me to where I am today – running my own successful business, partnering with ambitious business owners.

Through sheer determination, I wanted to find my place in the world and prove to that Careers Advisor and the misguided educators of my youth how wrong they were about me and what I could offer the workplace.

21st century definition of dyslexia

Credit to Made by Dyslexia

“Dyslexia influences as many as 1 in 5 people and is a genetic difference in an individual’s ability to learn and process information. As a result, dyslexic individuals have differing abilities, with strengths in creative, problem-solving and communication skills and challenges with spelling, reading and memorising facts.

Generally, a dyslexic cognitive profile will be uneven when compared to a neurotypical cognitive profile. This means that dyslexic individuals really do think differently.

Traditional benchmarking disadvantages dyslexics, measuring them against the very things they find challenging”.

There are 6 Dyslexic Thinking Skills:

VISUALISING: Interacting with space, senses, physical ideas and new concepts. (75% of dyslexics are above average at Visualising).

  • Moving:physical interpretation and game playing. Examples: Dancer, Musician, Sports player.
  • Making:visualising, planning and making. Examples: Engineer, Architect, Craft worker, Programmer, Designer, Chef, Gardener.
  • Inventing:exploring possibilities, making connections and inventing. Examples: Scientist, Technologist, Entrepreneur.

IMAGINING: Creating an original piece of work, or giving ideas a new spin (84% of dyslexics are above average at Imagining).

  • Creating: creating completely original work from your imagination. Examples: Designers, Artists, Composers, Writers.
  • Interpreting:using imagination to give ideas a new twist or bring out a fresh angle. Examples: Actor, Advertiser, PR, Director, Photographer.

COMMUNICATING: Crafting and conveying clear and engaging messages. (71% of dyslexics are above average at Communicating).

  • Explaining:assessing situations/information, and explaining clearly to other people. Examples: Journalist, Marketeer, Politician, Teacher, Campaigner.
  • Story-telling:creating vivid and engaging experiences in words, pictures or other media. Examples: Author, Writer, Games Developer, Song Writer, Film Maker.


And that’s not all – other skills include: 

REASONING: Understanding patterns, evaluating possibilities and making decisions.  (84% of dyslexics are above average in Reasoning).

  • Simplifying:understanding, taking apart and simplifying complex ideas and concepts.
  • Analysing:using logic to decide on strength of an argument or where the truth lies.
  • Deciding:interpreting patterns and situations to predict future events and make decisions.
  • Visioning:seeing past detail to gain a strategic (big picture) view of a subject or problem.

CONNECTING: Understanding self; connecting, empathising and influencing others. (80% of dyslexics are above average at Connecting).

  • Understanding self: recognising and managing own feelings, and understanding how they affect own behaviour and that of others.
  • Understanding others:understanding and interpreting the verbal, physical and emotional reactions of other people.
  • Influencing:managing, influencing and inspiring constructive emotions in other people. Empathising: sensing, understanding and responding (emotionally and/or practically) to how people feel.

EXPLORING: being curious and exploring ideas in a constant and energetic way. (84% of dyslexics are above average at Exploring).

  • Learning:having a curiosity for finding out new things and learning new skills.
  • Digging:looking into things in a way that means most is learnt or discovered.
  • Energising:being so passionate about something it gives a buzz and tenacity to learn about it.
  • Doing:using new knowledge to achieve a result that surprises and pleases self or others 

My dyslexic thinking superpowers are Exploring, Connecting and Communicating – I am creative in my thinking, a problem solver, super organised and always one step ahead of the game!


I have just finished reading Kate Grigg’s new book “This is Dyslexia”. What an incredible book, one that I would urge every parent, teacher and employer to read to gain a greater and important insight into Dyslexic Thinking.

If only I could go back to my younger self and read this book, I would have a very different outlook and would have felt so differently about myself and my future.

My son is also dyslexic and has faced similar struggles throughout his school life, the difference is now, with people like Kate Grigg, Richard Branson, Jamie Oliver, Lewis Hamilton, Steve Jobs, Ed Sheeran, Steven Spielberg, Alexandra McQueen to name but a few, dyslexia is not the stigma it used to be and he will find his place in the world and thrive because he has all the dyslexia thinking skills that will take him far, maybe even to join GCHQ as spy! Dyslexics make exceptional spies!

“It’s time we all understand dyslexia properly as a different way of thinking, not a disadvantage”. 
Sir Richard Branson 

You can find out more about Rachel by clicking here! Or, give her a call – she does love a natter!

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

When is it time to outsource?

This is such a powerful question for solopreneurs, SMEs and all ambitious businesses wanting to grow at pace. In this blog, our director (and seasoned freelancer) Kate Chastey, reveals how you will know when the time is right to start outsourcing.  

“If only I had more time, I’d be able to do everything myself”.

If you’ve said this sentence recently, chances are you are NOT ready to outsource. Let me explain; the real value with outsourcing comes from enlisting the help of people that can actually do things better than you – it’s a mindset shift. Only when you really grasp this will outsourcing be a decision you thank yourself for.

Sure, there are many tasks you can outsource that, on the surface, seem likely to save you time (email management or appointment setting being just two examples) but, I encourage all business owners, and especially Passionate PA clients, to think beyond simply time saving and onto where the real value will come.

A valuable outsource solution is one that adds something to your business that you cannot. This might be as simple as efficiency, but it might also be special expertise, knowledge, customer insight and so on. Ultimately, any outsourcing solution should not be seen as simply a cost to your business, but as an asset as it can actually improve your bottom line.

So, how will you know if outsourcing will add real value to your business now?

If you answer YES to any of these questions, now is the time to start outsourcing.

Has overwhelmed and/or overworked become the norm?

  • Do you or your team talk frequently about how busy you are, how overwhelming the to do list is and how you just wish there were more hours in the day?
  • Does this mean that you or your people are not focusing on the elements of business that only they can do?
  • Are errors being made or is customer service falling short?
  • Are you missing opportunities to upsell or drive profitable customer engagement?
  • Is there an over-reliance on one person who is performing most functions or tasks within the business?
  • Are you missing deadlines (even self-imposed ones)?

Are there knowledge and experience gaps in your business?

  • Are there tasks or responsibilities being managed by those with inadequate skill and experience?
  • Do certain tasks take far too long?
  • Are you missing opportunities to automate functions?
  • Is there a lack of fresh ideas and perspective?
  • Do you often have internal projects that overrun or get put on the backburner as there just isn’t the time to complete them?

Is your business in need of a flexible growth strategy?

  • Is your business ready for growth but you are not ready for the commitment of an employed team?
  • Or, do you personally not want to become an employer but still want to grow your business?
  • Have you tried recruiting but you just can’t find the right skill, expertise or personality?
  • Are you craving a consistent partnership that can grow with your business, something flexible rather than over-reliant on you?
  • Do you know there are more opportunities to be had for your business, if only you had the right support around you?

If you answered YES to any of these, it’s time to step back from the frontline and invest just a few hours in finding, speaking with and initiating a working relationship with an outsource service provider.

The most incredible thing about outsourcing is that it gives you power. It allows you to create the time and space needed so you can concentrate on the things you got into business for… the things that are uniquely you and the things you love.

Everything else can (and should!) be outsourced. Yes, everything.

If you would like to hear more from Kate about preparing to outsource, listen to Solopreneur SOS Podcast, episode 49, where Karen Murray interviews Kate to explore all things outsourcing.  

In our next blog, I’ll share with you how to go about finding the right solution for you, and how to start the outsourcing partnership. If however, you are ready to discover what you personally could outsource, we have a super tool to help you decide what you can delegate, and when. Just pop your details below and we’ll send it straight to you. 


Request your free Delegation Tool today to help you prepare to outsource.