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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.

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    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

    The Most Important Thing You Can Do in the Next 10 days to Improve Your Speaking The 5 Styles of Being a Leader How to Start a Speech using a Personal Story 11 Differences Between Busy People And Productive People 19 Ways To Move People To Action Like Gandhi Did

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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