As a leader, it is uncommon that you will ever have a clear schedule. When you took on your role as a founder, CEO, or president, you sidelined a more flexible schedule in exchange for the responsibility of making your vision a reality. Yet, while you will rarely not have a busier schedule, that does not mean you should be a “busy” leader.

You might be wondering how it is possible not to be a busy leader, since you always have a phone call you need to take, a meeting you need to lead, or a strategy session you need to dedicate time to in order to get closer to reaching this year’s goals. Yes, you are busy, but you want to strive to be a productive leader rather than a busy one. 

One entrepreneur denotes the difference between being busy and being productive, stating that busy entrepreneurs are constantly distracted by what is on their plates while productive leaders work with purpose in mind. Just imagine your state of mind is like your home. When your home is cluttered, it creates a more stressful environment, even if it is only subconscious at first. The same is true for your stress levels at work. If your thoughts are clouded by your seemingly endless to-do list, it makes it much harder to think clearly, which makes it more difficult to do anything in an efficient manner. 

Here are a few ways to know if you are a busy leader or a productive leader:

Do you have a time of day you work more efficiently?

It does not matter if you wake up at 4:00 every morning or if you do most of your strategizing late at night — everyone has a time of day when they work better. If you have this self-awareness and save the majority of your tasks for when you know you work more efficiently, it means you are a more productive leader. Otherwise, you waste time attempting to check things off your list and end up working more frequently and harder than other leaders.

Are you okay with saying ‘no’?

A productive leader will never bite off more than they can chew. Even as the leader of a company, you still have your limits. You should know the amount you can take on while ensuring that it not only gets done in a timely manner, but is done well. Busy leaders who can’t say ‘no’ end up putting more weight on their shoulders and will eventually find themselves cracking under pressure.

Do you have a priority to-do list?

At any given time, there is a lot you can be working on throughout your day. But you are the one that knows what tasks demand prioritization over other tasks. Some productive leaders “chunk” their time based on the goals they want to accomplish, which keeps them focused rather than constantly jumping from one thing to the next. Busy leaders tend to be less organized and more flustered so they end up focusing on more tasks but less effectively rather than going down their priority to-do lists and finishing each task to the best of their ability.


The next time you feel yourself at a crossroads of how to approach a chaotic schedule, work diligently to be productive rather than merely busy.