How to Go From Busy to Productive in One Week

Is busyness a key factor for creating a successful business?

Well, if we girlbosses could make 6 figures just from being busy, I’m sure we’d all be living pretty large. But if we’re being honest, I think we can agree that we’re reeeally good at being busy, yet we know that’s not enough to be a successful entrepreneur. #realitycheck

There’s a big difference between being busy and being productive.  But how can we even tell if we’re being productive or we’re just busy? A good place to start is with a little self-analysis.


Get to the Bottom of Your Busyness

To figure out if you’re simply doing #allthethings that keep you busy or if you’re actually being productive, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I just busy or am I making progress on my goals?
  • Am I just busy or am I moving my business forward?
  • Am I just busy or am I intentional with my time?
  • Am I spending my limited work hours on the activities that bring me the greatest results?

Well, I’ve got some news for you, girl.

In 1906, an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto discovered that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by only 20% of its population. Later, Dr. Joseph M. Juran applied this 80/20 Rule to business management. Here’s what he found.

Juran observed that 20% of “work” activities result in 80% of the results. He used the phrase “the vital few and the trivial many” to explain the universal principle that by focusing your greatest energy on the fewer tasks that matter the most, you can truly amplify and maximize your results.

What Does the 80/20 Rule Mean for You?

It means that a surprisingly small portion (roughly 20%) of your business activities are actually producing your greatest results. Whoooaa!

Think about it.

At the end of the day, do you want to feel like you were busy with all sorts of little tasks that kept your business wheels turning but didn’t really move you forward? Or do you want to feel like you’ve spent the majority of your time on the results-based activities that will boost your business’ growth?

Now it’s time to ask yourself some more questions.

  • What are my 20% tasks?
  • What are the most important activities that I know will have the greatest impact and move my business forward?
  • And how can I adjust my work time to focus on more results-based tasks and less busy work?

If you’re not sure how to answer these questions, don’t stress. You’re not alone. I’ve been there, and I know more than a few other girlbosses who have felt the same way.

In order to figure out how to transition from being busy to being productive, you can complete a simple Time Audit for your business.

How to Complete a Time Audit for Your Business

There are two precious commodities we “spend” in life - time and money.

Obviously, it’s helpful to create a financial budget to see how you’re spending your money. It’s important to see where your money is going so you know you’re spending it on the things that matter to you the most.

So why not do the same thing with your time?

If you don’t know exactly where your time is going or if you’re actually spending your time on the things that matter the most to your business, now is the perfect time to begin a Time Audit so that you can start “budgeting” more time for your most important and productive business activities.

If you’re ready to start focusing your energy on the right tasks, you can begin by following these steps. (Or you can download a printable copy of the Time Audit here.)

Step 1 // Estimate Your Available Time

Record the amount of time you think you have available to work each week.

I think I can devote about ____ hours to my business each week.

Step 2 // List Your Activities

Use a two column chart. In the column on the left, make a list of all the activities you work on each week in your business. On the right, how much time it'll take you to complete. Then total them up.

Step 3 // Schedule When You Will Track Your Time

Schedule 5-7 consecutive days when you know you’ll be able to time your work activities. Be sure to choose a “normal” week when you aren’t traveling or doing activities that are out of the ordinary. Mark these days on your calendar so you’ll remember to focus on your Time Audit throughout each day of the week.

Step 4 // Track & Record Your Time

Record the time you spend completing each of your work activities for an entire week. Using a free time-tracking tool like Toggl may help, but you can certainly go “old school” with your own timer.

If you use Toggl, list simple descriptions for each of your activities and create color-coded labels for the various categories of work you do (emailing, social media, blogging, sales-based projects, marketing, etc.). If you forget to “clock out,” you can edit the time that was originally recorded. But strive to be cognizant of the start and end times of your activities so you can get accurate results.

Keep tracking all of your work activities for the entire week. It may sound like a long time, but business activities often run in weekly cycles, so if you don’t pay attention to ALL the things you’re doing in a typical week, you won’t get a clear picture of how your time is really being spent.

Toggl will send you an email report showing exactly how you spent your time for the entire week (Monday-Sunday) according to the categories you created. Use this report or go directly to the Reports section of the Toggl website to discover how you divided your time.

At the end of the week, use Toggl’s email report or your own calculations to complete the right-hand column of the chart in Step 2.

Step 5 // Analyze Your Results & Make Adjustments

Think carefully about which activities are producing the biggest results for your business. Remember that according to the 80/20 Rule {AKA the Pareto Principle}, 20% of your tasks will produce 80% of your results.

Now ask yourself:

  • What can I do to maximize my results-oriented “20% tasks?”
  • How can I start minimizing, streamlining, or outsourcing the “80% tasks” that only produce 20% of my results?

Take Action

As online business guru, Marie Forleo, says, “Insight without action is worthless.”

If this article has got you wondering whether or not you’re being as productive with your time as you cooould be, there will never be a better time than right now to get your time management habits squared away.

Here are three ways you can take action.

1 // Download the Time Audit, and make the official switch from just busy to uber productive within a week!

2 // If you’re eager for a head-to-toe productivity makeover, I’d be honored to have you join over 500 other go-getting girlbosses in my free Get It Done in Less Time with More Grace e-course.

3 // In the comments below, I’d love for you to share an insight you’ve taken away from this article or an actionable piece of advice you can share to help others increase their productivity.

Thank you for sharing and commenting with enthusiasm, clarity, and kindness! Now let’s get this productivity party started!


By Kelli Alaina

Kelli Alaina is a brand strategist + stylist for creative girlbosses who want to grow their businesses with clarity, style, and grace. She works one-on-one and in group programs with female entrepreneurs who are ready to build a brand that stands out in a sea of sameness. She’s a #boymama times three who fuels up on Peach Snapple and geeks out with biz podcasts on the daily. You can find her over at or hangin’ out on Instagram.