THE BLOG
02/24/2015 10:52 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Busy or Productive: Why Words Matter to Entrepreneurs

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During a recent coaching conversation, a client began the appointment with this statement: "I've been busy!" For most entrepreneurs, that generally means we've been running around like a "chicken with our head cut off" (as my Grandma would say) but not getting much accomplished. Yet, when we probed a bit further about what "busy" meant, we discovered that she was more than busy - she was downright productive. The volume of business development tasks completed in the short span of time between business coaching appointments was staggering.

Busy is Not an Entrepreneurs Badge of Honor

Over time, "busy" has taken on many meanings. In fact, in many circles, entrepreneurs included, "busy" includes everything from checking email (incessantly), to attending meetings (unnecessary), to updating friends on social media (unessential). The definition of "busy" has also expanded to include strategic planning (significant), to marketing (indispensable), to business development (imperative). The subsequent activities are far from "busy" - they are categorically "productive."

The problem that many entrepreneurs face is being caught up in the former definition of "busy," so much so, that "productive" activities get lumped in with "busy" ones and get placed on a back burner for times when we're less "busy." (If you happen to know when an entrepreneur is "less busy," please tell me. I've yet to find it.)

It's a common held belief that if you're busy you're productive and accomplishing a lot. Unfortunately, that's not the case. For most small business owners, busy work is unfocused. Busy work is comprised of endless activities that suck the time out of your day.

Words Matter to an Entrepreneurs Success

When you tell yourself you're "busy," what sort of image does it bring to mind? Frantic. Stressed-out. Overwhelmed. Even reading this arrangement of words (i.e. sentence) likely sends waves of stress reverberating through your body.

But tell yourself - and others - that you're "productive" and what picture pops into your head? Strength. Determination. Moving forward. Doing what matters. In control. On top of everything. In fact, I bet a smile just crept across your face as you considered this unique notion of productivity.

Words change our perception of reality. Seemingly innocent, simple, straightforward words are scientifically proven to influence the parts of the brain that regulate emotional and physical stress.

According to research conducted by Andrew Newberg, M.D.. and Mark Robert Waldman outlined in their book, Words Change Your Brain, a single word, and its implied nature, can either stimulate the motivational centers in the brain into action, or stimulate our fear center flooding our body with stress-producing hormones.

So, if you're "busy" with endless actions that have little or no correlation to your goals, call it as such. However, if you're planning your week, analyzing your goals, tweaking your strategies, and moving closer to your objective, call it what it truly is - productive.

Your brain will thank you.

Busy or Productive: Why Words Matter to Entrepreneurs first appeared on Synnovatia's business growth blog.