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Busy or productive - which type you are


People like being busy …

It feels like you have things to do; you have a purpose. You are in-demand. The thing is -- this is also true:

One of the hardest lessons to learn is that "busy" does not equal "productive".
Josh Pigford, Founder of Baremetrics

Ultimately, an individual and a business need to be productive. Not just busy. And usually in order to move from “busy” -- i.e. lots of task work, meetings, spreadsheets, updating -- to “productive,” where you are developing new products and revenue channels and growing the business, you need some form of help. This can be new employees, consultants, outsourced teams, or a few other concepts. 

But the first question of the equation is: How do you know that you are too busy and need some help?

Some people just keep going fast and pushing themselves, even though they are mostly taking on more busy work. This can lead to burnout, and being burned out definitely will not make you any more productive. 

Right now, we are living in a tough global business environment. There is a health pandemic that could potentially affect millions. Teams are dispersed around the globe trying to be in sync and productive.  

Companies need to focus on priorities and be as productive, and streamlined, as possible. That means putting aside busyness. But that’s hard for companies.

How do they know when it’s time to get some help?

We are going to do this in two parts: this article is a more general look at how to move away from busy work to more productive work -- and how to know the types of tasks and projects it is OK to outsource or work with an external partner on.  

Let’s meet a U.S. President first; Dwight Eisenhower

He was a President of the United States (for most of the 1950s). He was also a successful General in the U.S. Army during World War II. Overall, a famous guy and well-respected leader.

He also is credited with developing something called “The Eisenhower Matrix,” which looks like this:

Eisenhower Matrix

You have two things to consider here: how urgent (need it now) something is, and how important (to the productive future of the business) something is.

Now look at the graphic above and also consider this graphic:

Let’s go around the boxes now:

>> If something is urgent and important (top left):

Do it now. Focus on it internally. If the scope of the project gets too big, you might consider bringing in another team or someone that can consult with you on it. But in general, top left tasks should be handled immediately by your present team.

>> Not urgent but important (top right):

This is a good box for outsourcing. Let’s say you know there is a DevOps project on the horizon for your team. It is important to the three-year arc of your business, but not urgent right now, especially with coronavirus and everything else going on. It needs to get done, but not this second. This is a great opportunity to extend your team and have someone else begin that project while you focus on the day-to-day.

>> Urgent but not important (lower left):

This can also be outsourced. Sometimes, companies need a project done very fast, for any number of reasons. The project isn’t necessarily important or a future revenue possibility, but it needs to get done and internal capacity is full. In these situations, it makes sense to bring in some help.

>> Not urgent, not important (lower right):

Why are you caring about this at all? Don’t do it. We are all busy as it is.

There’s a simple guide to “How busy are you?” and “Should you get some help from the outside of your company?”.

Now, how do you know what type of team you need? Thankfully, we have a checklist for you on selecting the right software development outsourcing partner:

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