We’re more than halfway through 2018 and it sure feels like we are busier than ever before. These days it feels like no one has “free time” to do anything. We run late for meetings, grab lunch on the go (if at all), and get home later (and with more work still to do). Do you feel like you’re struggling to keep up? I can relate, so I am working on becoming less busy, and more productive.
The most productive and efficient people are those that “own their day” versus letting their day own them. They work to maximize their time to be as productive as possible, not just busy. But before we list the four most powerful steps to a productive day, let’s explore the difference between “busy” and “productive” people.
“Busy” versus “Productive”
There is a huge difference between being busy and being productive. You can be busy all day and still feel like you’re behind on accomplishing your goals. Have you ever spent hours clearing your inbox only to emerge without having actually completed your goals for the day?
How about clearing 75% of your long to-do list without getting the two really important things completed? You were really busy, but were you productive?
A Productive Person
I like to think of being productive as moving the ball a few inches closer to the goal every single day. Imagine you’re creating a side hustle blog and trying to build a strong following. You want that blog up and running by Friday. As a productive person you might do the following:
Day 1 would include buying a domain name/creating a website.
Day 2 would be dedicated to strategizing your message and branding.
Day 3 might consist of writing the first blog post, and
Day 4 would be learning how to upload it to your newly designed site.
Boom! This is what it looks like to be action-oriented and result-driven. It might not be perfect, but it’s up and running.
A Busy Person
Think of the same scenario but this time instead of being the productive person you are “busy” person. The busy person spends all their time doing research, trying to learn all the possibilities, creating long to-do lists, and trying to make things perfect before they start. They can spend days with nothing tangible to show for their time and effort. Busy people tend to be overthinkers and they have an incredible ability to expand their tasks to the amount of time they have available. The busy person starting a blog would likely take three times the amount of time and effort of a productive person all the while complaining that they don’t have enough time to get anything done.
Busy people tend to be great at “looking busy” where as productive people are simply “getting it done.” A productive person’s list of to-do’s does not include something like “call Samantha about the reports” because they’ve already called her and handled it. No wasting time. No dilly-dallying and putting something on a to-do list to just look at later. Consider it done.
How Being Extremely Productive Sets You Apart
Being productive is the core of every high level achiever in the game. Whether its Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins or Jeff Bezos they all have mastered their time management and became extremely productive and results-driven. Being productive versus being busy will be the reason you hit all of your 2018 goals. Here are four powerful steps you can take to become more productive immediately.
Four Steps To Being More Productive
Focus On One Thing (at a time)
There are a million things that you could be doing, but what is the one thing that will deliver you the most results first? Do that! Start retraining your brain and behavior to think and operate with this mindset. Check out the book The One Thing by Gary Keller for more on tunnel vision focus.
Another tip that high-level achievers swear by is “chunking.” Chunk your time based on your goals and the tasks you need to get done first. That way you can stay focused on one topic instead of bouncing around from one thing to another all day.
Master Your Calendar
Become a wizard of your calendar. Scheduling properly can help keep you on track. If it is in your calendar you are more likely to stick to the plan. Throw out those outdated to-do lists!
You can start by notating every minute of what you’re doing for a few days including meetings, phone calls, meals, even bathroom breaks and random conversations. Logging your activity for a baseline can help you determine where your time is being wasted – and help you fix it.
Learn to set smaller, accomplishable goals. I know this is probably mind blowing but stick with me here. Keep the big long-term goals but then set smaller daily goals to get there. We often overestimate how much we can accomplish in one day. Setting daily goals that are attainable helps you stay on track getting the most important things done even when you get side tracked with “busy work.” It’s also more encouraging and builds confidence to have a list of three things you can accomplish towards to your successful day versus a long list of 10 that you won’t finish.
Distractions are the enemy of productivity. Do everything in your power to give your fullest attention to the task at hand. Ever try to do two things at once, or maybe even three, and fail miserably? We’ve all been there. Spreading yourself too thin will only hurt you. Not giving your full attention is a sacrifice made on the quality of your thoughts and your work. Learn to be more present and in the zone with anything you’re trying to finish or accomplish.
The Good News
Whether you lean more towards the “busy” side or more towards the “productive” side, do not panic. This is something you can change and get better with over time. We all fall into the busy category from time to time but, during those times, it is important to recognize it for what it is and move forward with action.
Highly productive people are the go-getters of our time making their dreams their reality. They push themselves to be less busy and more productive every day. Try following the simple, yet highly effective, steps to become a more productive person and see how it can change your life forever!