Busy Doesn’t Mean Productive; Lazy Also Doesn’t Mean Unproductive
Before we talk about how to be more productive, let’s see what Productivity means.
Productivity, as taken from Wikipedia, means:
Productivity is a measure of output from a production process, per unit of input. For example, labor productivity is typically measured as a ratio of output per labor-hour, an input.
What about you? How do you define productive? What does productive mean to you?
For me, productive means being able to achieve (what I set out to achieve) MORE by doing LESS. Less in this case means the time taken is less.
So The Factor To Consider Is TIME
I don’t use efforts to measure productivity because efforts are relative. I can say that it takes me a lot of effort to do X, while John says he spend more effort than me to do X. But what is effort? You can’t really measure it accurately enough.
Time, on the other hand, is an absolute value that can’t be debated. If you spent 1 hour to do X, the fact is that you spent 1 hour. If you spent 2 hours, then it’s 2 hours. Everyone has 24 hours in a day, and it’s up to you how to utilize your time wisely.
To give a better understanding of my definition of productivity, suppose my goal (what I set out to achieve) is to earn $100 in net profits per day. If I can achieve that (or even more) by working only 1 hour, than I consider myself productive. If I achieve that by working 2 hours, then my productivity decreases.
As Lao Tzu says:
Doing Nothing Is Better Than Being Busy Doing Nothing
Busy does not mean productive. Lazy also does not mean unproductive.
Using the above example, if I can achieve $100 or more in net profits per day by working only 1 hour, and John needs to work 2 hours to achieve that feat, then I’m more productive than John (even though I’m “lazier” than him since I work less hours than him).
So number of hours worked does NOT equal productivity. You can be busy and work 12 hours per day and still be less productive than someone who works only 1 hour per day.
The Wrong Conception Of How To Be More Productive
Most people think they are productive just because they “work” a certain number of hours per day. This is true both in the office environment and also in the work from home environment.
Every day in the office, John seems to be busy. He has lots of meetings to attend, and lots of work to take care of, etc. He works 12 hours per day in the office. At the end of the day, what REAL RESULTS has he delivered?
Were those meetings really productive meetings that deal with REAL issues/problems that need attention, or were these meetings there just for the sake of “company policy” that states that meetings have to be had for every X days? Were the meetings spent on discussing ways to solve problems or come up with marketing strategies, or were they spent on chit chatting with each other with no clear objectives?
In the work from home environment (us internet marketers and bloggers), when we work, do we REALLY REALLY work on those tasks that are taking us toward our goal, or are we doing tasks that are not related to what we’re trying to achieve?
For instance, you say you are working 8 hours per day. Well, how many of those hours are spent on browsing forums, chit chatting via email and instant messaging, or reading and forwarding humor emails that have nothing to do with your goal. And we haven’t even talked about wasted time watching the TV, chit chatting with your family members, etc.
You might argue that browsing forums is necessary to research product ideas and find possible problems that your target market want solved. That’s great. But the question is: Are you really browsing the forums to find these or are you getting sidetracked by reading forum threads that have nothing to do with what you’re trying to achieve?
5 Tips – How To Be More Productive:
1. Eliminate (or at the very least reduce) time-waster activities such as chit chatting via email or instant messengers, browsing unrelated forum topics and websites, gossiping with your family members and friends about your life, their life, or last night’s episode of “Lost”, watching TV, sleeping, etc.
You can spend time doing all of these AFTER you’ve done your work for the day, NOT IN BETWEEN your work hours.
2. Before the week begins on Monday, plan and WRITE DOWN what you’re going to do for the coming week AND how long you’re going to complete each and every task.
You should write down your tasks as SPECIFIC as you possibly can to avoid confusion as to do what tasks (since confusion leads to inaction). Monday, you are going to spend 1 hour doing A, spend 1 hour doing B, and spend 30 minutes doing C. Tuesday, you are going to spend 30 minutes doing X, spend 1 hour doing Y, and spend 2 hours doing Z, etc.
Remember, don’t just plan in your head. You need to WRITE DOWN your task schedule.
3. Eliminate (or the very least reduce) INTERRUPTIONS
So you were on the phone talking with a friend and suddenly your spouse asks you something. So you politely tell your friend on the phone to hold on so you can answer your spouse. After answering him/her, you return back to the phone only to say: “Errr where were we just now?”
I’m sure you’ve had situations like this happen quite often. What happens is that even if you manage to recover from the phone conversation with your friend and start talking again, you need time to “switch gears” from attending to your spouse to chatting again with your friend. The mind needs time to recover, even if it’s only a few seconds.
These “gear-switching” are INTERRUPTIONS and can EASILY kill your productivity! A few seconds per gear-switching means hours if you are constantly switching gears every day. So you need to eliminate or reduce interruptions like this.
If a family member asks to chit chat with you for trivial matters, ask them to wait until you’re done for the day. If you’re writing an article, then write the article and do nothing else. Don’t write the article halfway, check your email, write again, chat with friends or co-workers, write again, check out forums, write again, etc. Finish that article FIRST before you move on to another task.
Complete ONE task at a time!
If need be, lock yourself up in your room when you work so that you don’t get interruptions from family members. After you’re done working for the day, you can chat with them. Trivial chit chatting can wait, and certainly is less important than the success of your business.
4. Batch Process Tasks
Instead of checking and replying your email every 10 minutes (as I’ve mentioned in this how to improve time management post), check your email and reply them once or twice per day on a set schedule. It WILL save you tons of time.
Remember we talked about eliminating interruptions? By checking your email only once or twice per day, you are eliminating/reducing interruptions since you have a set aside a set schedule just to check your email.
You can also batch process other tasks that takes away your time (like email) on a constant basis, for example answering support tickets. Instead of doing it every 10 minutes or so, set aside a set schedule and do it X times per day.
5. Overcome Information Overload
Overcome information overload so that you have CRYSTAL CLARITY on what your goals are and what are the tasks you need to do to achieve them. There’s another separate post on this one alone, so it’s better you check out for yourself this internet marketing information overload post
If you want to become more productive, be sure to implement the 5 tips I share above. Again, busy does not mean productive. Lazy also does not mean unproductive. If you want to be unproductive, might as well do nothing, as Lau Tzu says with his famous quote: