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11 Differences Between Busy People And Productive People

11 Differences Between Busy People And Productive People

I spent a day with the world’s number one ultraman Kilian Jornet back in 2010. He told me about the difference between his life in the mountains and the life he sees in the city.

Kilian spends most of his life in the mountains. He will run up and down Everest next year. He has already run up and down Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Montblanc and Cervino (setting the record for the fastest ascent on each). He says that he knows his destination, but is often doubtful about the exact path – he is very aware of surroundings, of changes in the weather, of loose rocks. He is constantly adjusting his path.

He told me that a few times a year he arrives into the city of Barcelona in his campervan. He parks. He gets out. He sees people walking confidently up and down the street. Everyone is walking with such confidence. They look so sure in their intention. They are sure of their steps… but they have no idea where they are going.

This is one of the differences between busy people and productive people. Read on to find out what this difference is and to get to know 10 more differences.

1. Busy people want to look like they have a mission. Productive people have a mission for their lives.

Busy people hide their doubt about the destination of their lives by acting confident in their little steps.

Productive people allow others to see the doubt in their little steps because they are clear on the destination.

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2. Busy people have many priorities. Productive people have few priorities

Nobody is ever too busy, if they care they will make time. Life is a question of priorities. If you have 3 priorities, you have priorities. If you have 25 priorities, you have a mess.

busy

    The pareto priniciple is that 80% of your desired results come from 20% of your activity. Henry Ford built a fortune not by building better cars, but by building a better system for making cars. Busy people try to make better cars, productive people develop better systems for making cars.

    3. Busy people say yes quickly. Productive people say yes slowly

    Warren Buffet’s definition of integrity is: “You say no to most things”.

    If you don’t say “no” to most things, you are diving your life up into millions of little pieces spread out amongst other people’s priorities. Integrity is that your values are clear and that your time is going to serve those values.

    4. Busy people focus on action. Productive people focus on clarity before action

    To focus on the top 20% of activities, you must gain clarity about what those activities are for yourself. The greatest resource you will ever have to guide you to live a good life is your own personal experience – if well documented. Sadly, most people only document their life in facebook status updates. Keep a diary and take 5 minutes every day to reflect on the past day, on what worked, on what didn’t work; and some time on what inspires you.

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    5. Busy people keep all doors open. Productive people close doors

    As a young person it is good to open options. It is good to want to travel, to learn languages, to climb mountains, to go to university, to work in tech, to live in another country. However, there comes a point in life where one must let go of most options and focus. If my goal this year is to learn spanish – I will speak spanish at the end of the year. If my goal this year is to speak spanish, earn 30% more, travel to 10 countries, get fit, find a girlfriend, go to all the concerts… I will not speak spanish at the end of this year.

    6. Busy people talk about how busy they are. Productive people let their results do the talking

    Stephen King says: “A writer is a producer of words. Produce words: you are a writer. Don’t produce words: you are not a writer”.

    It is a clear binary thing. Talking about writing is not writing. Published authors don’t talk about their next book – they are focussed on producing it. I have grown to have less and less interest in what people tell me that they are going to do – I ask them what they have already done. Past performance is the only good indicator of future performance.

    Feeling productive is not the same as being productive. This is important. I can feel productive while I’m playing minecraft. I can feel unproductive while I’m producing an excellent blog post that will help others take better actions.

    7. Busy people talk about how little time they have. Productive people make time for what is important

    Any time we spend on excuses is time not spent on creation. If you allow yourself to practice excuses, you will get better and better at excuses. Productive people don’t use time as an excuse. An action either supports their highest values and mission, or it does not. If it does not, they don’t do it – even if they have a whole day off.

    There is an Irish saying: “It is better to do something than nothing”.

    This is a lie! It is better to do nothing than to do an action that doesn’t connect with your highest values. Sit still.

    8. Busy people multitask. Productive people focus

    Productive people know about focus.

    Do you know about the Pomodoro technique? It is brutal, but it is effective. Identify a task to be done (for instance, write this blog post). Set a timer to 20 minutes. Work on the task until the time sounds. Any distraction (I must check email, I must get some water, I must go to the bathroom) and you reset the timer to 20. How many pomodoros can you complete in a day?

    9. Busy people respond quickly to emails. Productive people take their time

    Email is a handy list of priorities. The problem: they are other people’s priorities, not yours. If you respond to every email, you are dividing up your life into a thousand tiny bits that serve other people’s priorities.

    There are 3 choices when you first review your email inbox: Delete, Do, Defer. This is not a post on email management, here are a few on managing email overload from Gigaom, Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur.

    10. Busy people want other people to be busy. Productive people want others to be effective

    Busy managers measure hours of activity, productive managers measure output. Busy managers are frustrated by others looking relaxed, looking like they have time, looking like they are enjoying their work. Productive managers love seeing others enjoy their work, love creating an environment in which others can excel.

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    Busy people are frustrated. They want to be valued for their effort, not for their results.

    There is a Hindu saying: “We have a right to our labour, not to the fruits of our labour”.

    We have a right to enjoy being excellent at our work, not a right to enjoy the car, the house, the money that comes from doing good work. Productivity is about valuing the journey towards excellence, not any moment of activity.

    11. Busy people talk about how they will change. Productive people are making those changes.

    Kilian Jornet doesn’t spend much time talking about what he will do. He talks about what he has done, what he has learnt, what inspires him.

    Spend less time talking about what you will do and dedicate that time to creating the first step. What can you do now that requires the approval of nobody else? What can you do with the resources, knowledge and support that you have now? Do that. It is amazing how the universe rewards the person who stops talking and begins.

    We are born with incredible potential. At the age of 20, the best compliment that can be paid is that you have a lot of potential. At the age of 30, it is still ok. At 40, you have a lot of potential is becoming an insult. At 60, telling someone that they have a lot of potential is probably the cruelest insult that can be made about their life.

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    Don’t let your potential go to waste. Create something amazing. This is its own reward.

    More by this author

    Conor Neill

    Professor of Leadership, President Vistage Spain

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    How to Be Productive: 11 Ways to Be Productive and Happy at Once

    How to Be Productive: 11 Ways to Be Productive and Happy at Once

    A lack of productivity leads to a lack of happiness.

    When you can’t see yourself making progress or getting things done, you get anxious and become stressful.

    There are also tons of things that contribute to unhappiness here too: Facebook notifications, emails, texts, and chatty co-workers are just a small fraction of the disruptions we’re bombarded with. These “little things” can stack up fast and lead to hampering your happiness and productivity levels.

    Learn how to be productive with the 11 tips below and reclaim your everyday productivity and your happiness, once and for all.

    1. Be happy now

    Life is too short. No matter what you’re doing or where you are, be happy now. Start by finding something to be grateful for; everyone has at least one thing to be grateful for.

    Most of the world still has trouble getting access to clean drinking water… yhat means you can even be grateful for that bottle of Aquafina you’ve got on your desk right now.

    2. Finish your day before it starts

    Proper planning is the secret to peak productivity, and it’s also a good idea to set daily goals. Get yourself a planning tool and prioritize your daily tasks with it.

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    Here’s a smart technique on planning and prioritization: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    3. Celebrate the small wins

    Every time you check off a task from your to-do list, you release a “happy chemical” in your brain called dopamine. This gives you the motivation to move forward and do even more.

    For example, after I finish writing this article and I’ve crossed it off my list of things to do today, I’ll get a nice burst of “happy chemicals” releasing in my brain. The best part? Zero side effects!

    Learn from here: How To Celebrate Small Wins To Achieve Big Goals

    4. Leverage like there’s no tomorrow

    Look for ways to use the good old 80/20 rule by identifying tasks that you might be able to outsource or leverage out to a virtual assistant.

    Stop wasting time doing things that don’t challenge you or ignite your passion. Hire out or automate anything and everything within your means.

    Check out this guide to find out how to start to delegate: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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    5. Recharge your batteries

    Figure out how many hours of sleep your body needs and make sure you get it. Take time to stretch, walk, or relax—you’ll be glad you did.

    Here’re some simple ways to relax completely and get rid of stress.

    6. Become an early riser

    This is one of the most underused productivity “hacks” on the planet. Ever since I decided to start waking up at 5am every day, my productivity levels and happiness have gone up dramatically.

    Most people aren’t up that early, so no one can bother you or disrupt you from what you want to do. Use this time to exercise, meditate, or to get a head start on your day.

    Not sure how to wake up earlier? Here are 11 Ways To Become an Early Riser Like Most Successful People Do.

    7. Do work you’re passionate about

    Make it your goal to blur the line between work and play by doing more things you’re passionate about. This promotes happiness both inside and outside of the workplace.

    Find what you’re passionate about and do it, or learn how to enjoy what you do with these tips: How to Enjoy What You Are Doing No Matter What

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    8. Use time blocks

    For example, when I wrote this article, I gave myself a one hour time block. This prevents unnecessary dilly-dallying like updating your Facebook status and checking email.

    Use an app like Alarmed to keep you on track.  Here’s a snapshot of the app from my iPhone.

      9. Avoid interruptions

      Interruptions are among the biggest barriers to both productivity and happiness. Every time you’re interrupted in the middle of a task your level of productivity takes a hit.

      We’ve all been there: you’re fully immersed in an important project until all of a sudden the workplace chatterbox appears out of nowhere and starts talking about stuff that doesn’t matter. By the time she’s gone, you’ve already forgotten where you were and it takes 30 minutes to get back on track.

      Avoid this by letting people know that you’ve got important work that’s got to be done.

      Learn more about how to stay focus in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

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      10. Shut down the digital disruptions

      iPhones, mailbox notifications, twitter, facebook, and everything that pops, slides, or fades in and out of your screen has got to go. Shut them down and focus.

      It’s as easy as turning off the notifications or scheduling only a specific time to check all these notifications and texts.

      11. Measure your success

      Every now and then, it’s a good idea to measure your results and see how things are coming along.

      How’s your progress? Are you pacing in the right direction? Are things getting better? Worse? It’s always a good idea to track your progress regularly.

      With an app like Rescue Time, you can easily keep track of the time you spend throughout the day. It helps you to find out how much time you’re really on-task and so you can review your progress.

        With these 11 effective ways to improve productivity, you will get more things done timely and become happier.

        Start small and take up each suggestion one by one, you can boost your productivity and create your happiness too.

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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