Why You're Probably Not Being Productive

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Several weeks back, I was leaving my office at the end of the day, kicking myself for having started at 9am (rather than 8am,) for taking an extra-long lunch (probably more than an hour,) and for leaving earlier than I typically would.

I felt like crap.

It seemed like another unproductive day running my business and I couldn't help but assume the next day would be the same. The following morning, however, I was reading Timothy Ferriss', "

The following morning, however, I was reading Timothy Ferriss', "The 4-Hour Workweek," when the answer slapped me right in the face.

Productivity is not a measure of time spent, but rather a number of completed priorities.

If you were able to complete the same amount of work in 20 hours, that took your coworker 40 hours to complete, would you be more, or less productive?

Technically, more productive.

(Not only would you be saving money for each project, but you would be generating two times the revenue.) To corporate America, however, you would only be half as productive.

Why? Because they measure productivity based on a 40-hour week, not completed priorities.

*Side-note: The goal of productivity is to minimize the amount of input (time spent,) while maximizing the amount of output (tasks completed.)

Backward Productivity

Personally, the problem I continually ran into was that no matter how many 'to-do tasks' I had written down in my notebook (and there were a ton,) I never felt that I accomplished enough.

My perception of productivity was based more around the amount of hours I completed, rather than the amount of priority tasks I completed.

Once I began to understand that productivity is a better measurement of completed work, and not time spent on the work, I began to experience more happiness (key to running a successful business,) more productivity, and more freedom in my business.

To get you started with this new productivity strategy, here's a few steps to help.

3 Steps to Becoming Productive

Before I go through these few steps, it's important to know that I am an entrepreneur and I do not have a boss breathing down my neck to complete x amount of hours every week.

If you would like to apply these steps to your personal life, it's easy!

Applying them in a business sense, however, requires that you own your own business, or have the ability to work from home.

Let's get started.

1. Write Daily 'To-Do' Lists. Nothing feels better than being able to draw a line through a completed task on a to-do list.

2. Prioritize Your List. As you review your list, draw a star by the 3 most important tasks. These tasks will serve as your measure of productivity. They must be within reason to complete that day, and must be completed by the end of the day to count your day 'productive.'

3. Get Out Early. After you have created your list and selected your top 3 priorities for the day, it's time to knock them out. Finish those tasks as quickly and effectively as possible. Once they are completed, begin to knock out the remainder of your list.

Before your typical leave time hits, (usually 5pm, I found,) get out of there.

(i.e. If you've finished your priority tasks by 2pm, complete another hour of additional tasks, then leave at 3pm.)

The goal of these three steps is to help you learn to minimize your efforts and maximize your results.

By writing a to-do list and prioritizing the top 3 tasks, you are setting the par for the day, so if you were to complete those three tasks and nothing else, you can still be counted as productive.

Leaving early (although it's tempting to just stay and complete the list) serves as a reminder that productivity is not a measure of time, but completed priorities.

Do this for an entire week and you will see a dramatic change in your stress level, productivity, and amount of completed tasks.

What are you doing to stay productive? Tell us in the comments! :-)

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Josh Coffy

Josh is an entrepreneur at heart, dropping out of college to pursue his dream of owning his own business. Fast-forward five years later, and Josh’s unique ability to marry technology with creative marketing strategies has led to Flight Media’s steady and swift growth. Now one of the leading Inbound Marketing companies in Ohio, the U.S. and abroad, clients trust Flight Media’s expertise, agile approach, and transparency. You can find Josh at CrossFit, backpacking the West coast with his wife, Kelsey, or reading a personal development book from his ever-growing library.