Productive or Busy?

Ever wondered why your so busy and your desk looks like the scene from the movie The Intern? The answer is simple; You’re “busy” but not “productive.” Well, then Mr. Smarty Pants. How do I get from being “busy” to being “productive”? I’m so glad you asked, or well, I asked. The answer falls under the skills of time management.

dbf72c437043efa3daf5a30a59dd44aa                                           Photo credit from Pinterest. Movie- The Intern

Time management is a skill that is acquired over time. You can learn about it of course. But learning about time management and actually putting it into practice or utilizing it is about as polar opposite as it gets. It would be like studying theoretical concepts of management versus actual management.

So now let me show you a few reasons why time management is important to you and your productivity.

  1. Time is limited no matter how you slice it. There are only 24 hours in a day. That applies to you, and to your coworker who only seems able to do half the amount of work you do. But it also applies to the former coworker who consistently accomplishes more than you, and was promoted as a result. If you want to rise through the ranks, you have to acknowledge the importance of finding a way to utilize your time.
  2. You can accomplish more with less effort when you learn to take control of your time, you improve your ability to focus. And with increased focus comes enhanced efficiency, because you don’t lose momentum, and the principle behind the commitment is to build momentum.
  3. Time management helps you make conscious choices so you can spend more of your time doing things that are important and valuable to you.

Managing your allotted time of the day can provide you with a large advantage. I know it can be difficult but try a few things just to start. Try it for a week and be consistent.

  1. Try to wake up earlier. (Not going to bed later.) Did you know that if you only woke up 15 minutes earlier, every single day you would gain 5,475 minutes after a year! That also equates to 91.25 hours or 3.8 days. It seems small, but over time, it adds up. Eventually, work yourself up (or back) to waking up at 4 AM. You cant imagine the difference waking up at 4AM will provide you. Let’s reverse engineer that too: If you woke up at 4:00AM instead of say 7:00AM. That would be 3 hours each day gained. That would be a total of 1,095 hours after a year or 45.63 DAYS! That’s over a months worth of time you gained of productive hours. Start at 15 minutes. Just try it and tell me I’m wrong. (Or Right)
  2. With so much to do and so little time to do it, be organized. Schedule EVERYTHING. (No, not your bathroom habits.) Stick to the rules that if it’s on the schedule then it must be done and done on time. A simple outlook calendar works here or even the calendar on your phone. One that provides alerts or reminders. Be sure not to schedule your self too thin, in other words, leave some room in between items for lag overs.
  3. Focus on the task at hand. You may be on top of your schedule but if your thinking about another item and veer off course because all of the sudden things are coming up that are more important or are weighing on your mind then you will become overwhelmed even by the calendar, the very tool that is supposed to help you. Stick to the item you scheduled. Tell people you will call them back. You wouldn’t want to talk to them anyway if you couldn’t devote your full attention to them at that time anyway! Same applies to your tasks. Set your tasks, and work on them. Focus on them and get them done.
  4. Lastly, eliminate the non-essentials. Not just on your calendar but everywhere. Having too much going on in the home can be a burden you take with you while at work. You’ve spent so much time and money on junk at home that has begun to clutter not just your home, but your mind as well, placing additional stress in the back of your mind. Simplify things. Do you need 25 coffee cups from your vacations over the years, sitting in the cupboard? Do you need to have a packed closet with clothes you never wear? Nic-Nac’s all over the place? You may not think of these items as a bad thing, but having too many things places an unconscious stressor in your mind. You think of the care these items need, cleaning, organizing etc. Having these stressors can slow you and your mind down, thus killing productive time.

I would have to say, that most people walk around each day in a zombified state of mind. Heads looking down at their phones checking their social media feeds 350 times a day. We can’t even go to the bathroom without a device anymore! They appear to be busy, but certainly not very productive. I have even witnessed high-level executives that are busier than they are productive.

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You must keep your daily goals right there in front of you. Put in on your calendar each morning to create three (3) goals you want to accomplish this day. Before logging out for the evening, check the list to see what remains. Sometimes its hard to come up with them, so keep it simple unless there is a very important goal that needs you, but on those days where it seems to be a routine day, set the goal to say something like, Wake up 15 minutes earlier or Take time to read the newspaper. Just keep it simple on that day. Remember not to attempt to put everything on the daily goal list, that is why you have a calendar. Think of it this way, busy people have many priorities, productive people have few.


    Photo credit Pinterest

Another difference is in the thought of “multitasking.” I have to tell ya, I’ve never met a person that was able to multitask and give their 100% best in anything. Busy people multitask. Productive people focus on a task at hand. The task they time blocked their calendar for.

Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique? Set a timer to 20 minutes. Work on the task time slotted until the timer sounds. Any distraction (I must check email, I must make a call, I must go to the check this or check that) and you reset the timer to 20 minutes. When the buzzer sounds, you place a checkmark on a piece of paper. You want to see how many checkmarks you can get in the day. The highest I’ve reached has been 11. It is truly hard to keep your mind on track. It took me some time to reach 11 too. For days it seemed, I could only get 3 or 4 check marks, I was always having to reset the timer because I had to go use the bathroom and grab a snack, even check an email (or 100).

Listen, you can go out and spend a ton of money on seminars and tools for time management, people make a killing off of it, but really it’s simple. It’s so simple that it is usually overlooked. Keep it simple stupid! Wake up earlier and tackle your day with a purpose.




Work Like an Executive ‘Challenge’

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What if I were to tell you that you could have an extra two months of time and productivity in a year? Two months! Sixty days! You might call me crazy. While its true that we all have the same 24 hours in a day, the valuable degrees in which we utilize the same 24 hours in a day vary widely.

They say that “The early bird, gets the worm.” They have that saying everywhere in the world you travel. They all have a saying like that because it’s true no matter where you go. Whether you’re a stay at home parent of three or the C.E.O. of Apple or any other major company, you will find they all have patterns. A pattern that directly contributes to their success; They wake up early.

I did tell you that I would reveal to you how to get an extra sixty days in a year (two months.) Well, look no further, let’s do some simple math. The average person wakes up at 8 o’clock in the morning. If you adjust your wake up time, to 4 o’clock in the morning, you would acquire 4 hours in the day, you would have otherwise spent sleeping. Compound that each day for the entire year, 4 hours times 365 days a year equals 1,460 hours. Divide it by 24 hours in a day and you have 60.83 days, or two months to simplify it.

Let’s look at a few examples

  1. Apple CEO Tim Cook- Wakes up at 4:30AM according to Ryan Tate at
  2. Former GE CEO Jeff Immelt- Wakes up at 5:30AM every day and notes he works 100 hour work weeks and has done so for the last 28 years.
  3. The Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson- Gets 5 hours of sleep each night and then gets back at it again, every day according to CNBC . Lights out by 11:00PM.

These are just a few. You can look across nearly all successful companies and find the same. They are all early risers. You can look and also see not just C.E.O.’s but C.O.O.’s as well. How do you think they achieved the level they are at? They had an advantage, and it wasn’t any unspoken privilege. It was how they chose to utilize their 24 hours a day.

Whether you are an aspiring C.E.O., C.O.O. or future leader in your chosen industry, you will need to employ successful habits. I have researched and come up with a list of successful individuals daily rituals. So I send you this challenge.

  1. Wake up at 4:00AM every day. Not just Monday through Friday, but all 7 days. This can be the most difficult one for people. Use an alarm clock and place it far away from your bed so you have to rise to turn it off but close enough that it will wake you. I use a bookshelf in my room that on the furthest wall away from my bed.

    alarm alarm clock analog analogue
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  2. Exercise. Everyday complete an exercise routine. It doesn’t have to be running or even going to a gym. Its often times a huge task to get ready, pack a bag, drive to the gym, then exercise, drive back home, shower and prepare for your day. So, I recommend you try to have some kettlebells at home. Utilize just 20 minutes of kettlebell exercises to get the blood flowing. Do yoga, just exercise.
  3. God to bed by 9:00- 9:30PM. You cant wake up on time if you’re staying up until 11:00PM each night. Stop telling yourself you can’t go to bed that early or wake up at 4:00AM. You can. You must get to sleep.
  4. No Cell Phones in the bedroom! (I just felt people gasp!) We often end up scrolling through news feeds from Facebook and Twitter while we are in the bed, look at the time and an hour has passed us by. We then turn it off and attempt to sleep but the electronic itself hinder our sleep. Use a regular old-fashioned alarm clock to get up instead of the cell phone alarm clock. Once I broke this habit, I slept so much better.
  5. Winddown before bed. Its often times hard to get in the bed by 9:00PM and actually fall asleep. We are becoming such night owls. Pick a winddown routine. Start this routine at around 8:00PM. Clean up the house a bit, prep your coffee machine or pre-grind your coffee beans so it easier in the morning. Take a hot shower or relaxing bath (yes men too.) Use sleeping clothes dedicated to just sleep. Dedicated pajamas. Heres a link to some old-timey pj’s. Men’s PJ’s Womens PJ’s .
  6. Read the news. Notice I said ‘read’. Read a newspaper or read the news from an online source such as yahoo finance or the new york times online. I prefer the old ways of reading the news and utilizing a newspaper. My grandfather, who was a successful businessman reads the newspaper every morning. I was lucky enough to see this in action, in real life. But for everyone else, take the example of  Warren Buffett one of the most successful men in our nation. He spends 80% of his day reading. Now he’s wealthy beyond belief and can afford to spend that much time reading. I am just saying to read each morning. It increases your vocabulary, keeps you in the know about what is going on, you learn about many areas such as investing, home prices, tips and tricks for everyday things. It’s important that you read your news.

    photography of a person reading newspaper
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  7. Keep a proper calendar. Set up your calendar, whether you utilize an outlook calendar or a paper one. Keep items on it and complete them all, in the proper time allotted. If it’s on the calendar, it more likely to get accomplished. We all get a small amount of dopamine from crossing off that item as completed and dopamine in our brains makes us feel good. So why not get your dopamine supply from something that will bring you successs.
  8. Each morning, write down three (3) goals that you want to accomplish for that day. Just three. If you have trouble finding one, just keep it simple at first, more high profile items will start showing up on that little list of goals. Just keep it simple stupid. No matter what occurs in your day, complete that list of items.

    pen calendar to do checklist
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The fact is, we all want to be successful. So let’s learn what it takes to be successful and give it a fair chance. Tell yourself that you can do it. You can wake up early, you can be more purposeful and constructive with your day. In the end, you are the reason you will either succeed or fail at anything, not anyone else. It’s up to you.