In my experience the difference between being busy and being effective is about what you achieve at the end of the day.
Busy people are just that – busy doing lots of things, often together, but not actually achieving very much.
How busy and effective people deal with email is a perfect example. Busy people think that email is really important and they check it very frequently, often replying to emails as they come in. Effective people know that they need to focus on their most important activities and that email can wait – they generally check email less and deal with emails in batches at various points through their day.
I think the main difference between busy and productive people is how they decide to spend their time. Effective people prioritize their activities, limit distractions, and do their most important activities first. Busy people don’t prioritize activities, have frequent distractions, and do urgent activities first .
Check out this short comparison between busy people and effective people. It is useful and interesting: