Busy vs. Productive:
Updated: Nov 15, 2021
A word from our founder.
Have you ever felt like you’re always so damn busy, but don’t often manage to get much done? Experiencing moments of great stress because you have an overwhelming To Do List and only seem to be keeping your head above water?
I’ve been there myself and if you don’t make a change, you will always be on the back foot. I’ve seen so many people face this problem; whether they’re a business owner, employee, student or parent. I want to share with you three powerful ideas that I use to turn that state into one that allows me to now perform at my best and maximise productivity within my business and personal life.
#1 Urgent vs. Important
Here’s a typical story that I think most will relate to:
Monday morning arrives, you head into work, grab a coffee, open up your emails to start the day and immediately get sucked into endless small tasks which absorb your time
and continuously lead into other urgent tasks demanded externally. Before you know it, the end of the day has arrived and you feel like you haven’t even got anything done yet.
It feels like you’ve been stressed to breaking point and chasing your tail all day…
Sound familiar? This is probably the most common source of stress, especially in today’s ‘instant generation’. Here’s the interesting part, we can change it! We all have a way to organise our time, and we call this a 'Time Strategy'. For the record, a strategy can also be one that leads us to something we do NOT want. When we end up stressed, this would qualify as a poor strategy. So, how do we create a better one that will serve our purpose? The first thing to grasp is that better questions give us better answers, so begin by asking yourself the right one: “Is this important or urgent?”
So, ask yourself; what are some of the things you do on a daily basis that are urgent, but not important? Now every time you take on an assignment I'm sure you’ll begin to group these tasks in your mind (the intelligent ones at least), but that is not enough - you need to make it real, so write it down on paper or digitally.
The point is that we MUST prioritise what’s important over what’s urgent! This is when we get into what I call 'The Flow State'. This is the area where the highest achievers live and execute with intention to achieve noticeably better results. When you launch this new strategy, you won’t look back.
#2 Time Stacking
...and how to do it well
Time stacking is a massively effective tool that helps me maximise my time.
If you too are trying to make a difference and are pushing yourself towards achievement, you will know how precious time becomes. That can be time with your partner sharing amazing moments that we never forget, catching up with friends who make us laugh until our face hurts, consistently going to the gym to feel great and confident about our bodies, and excelling at work. All of the above and so much more. Life is about pleasure and sharing it with great people.
So, what does time stacking mean? It is the process of taking two tasks and combining them in a smart way to reduce the time spent completing them and freeing more up to use on the ‘important’ things in life and business. A powerful question I ask you is:
If you had a few extra hours in your week, how would you spend them?
Would it allow you to read that book you’ve been putting off?
Spend intimate time with your partner? Take up that yoga class or learn a new skill? What you stack with is entirely based on your goals, but these examples might just spark some of your own ideas.
#3 Setting S.M.A.R.T Goals
No, I’m not referring to your intelligence here. S.M.A.R.T is a mnemonic acronym for
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant + Time-bound.
This is the most successful goal-setting method and one which I frequently use in both personal life and business. It’s practised among the greatest achievers of our time. You will often hear me say ‘clarity is power’ and this is a lifelong tool which you’ll use to define your personal life or business at each stage of your journey.
We all know the biggest failed goals are New Years’ Resolutions – Have you ever questioned why? This is the sort of thing that fascinates me because ‘if there is a pattern to failure, then there must also be one to success’. The fact is that when we set weak, vague goals, we get vague results.
We’ve all heard these 100 times:
“I want to lose weight.” “I want to find my dream job.” “I want to buy a new car.” “I want to quit smoking.” “I’d like to work less.”
Nobody likes to lose or quit anything, so the first thing to remember is to always set a goal in The positive state. When we realise how the mind works, we learn to play the right card and see better results. So, for example's sake - let’s take a look at the most commonly failed goal and make it S.M.A.R.T.
This is how to write a S.M.A.R.T goal and kick-start the path to achievement.
You wouldn’t get on an airplane if the pilot didn’t know the destination, so play the game with intent and clarity of your own destination. When we do this, we activate what’s called our Reticular Activating System (RAS) which you could say is the science behind “the law of attraction”. It’s what recognises the doors of opportunity and patterns that help us notice what’s around us to make better decisions and connect the dots. What we focus on is what we find.
The main reason most New Year’s resolutions fail is because we make them for the year ahead and don’t revisit them until the end of it, when we then say “oh damn, I couldn’t do that because of X, Y and Z “ and create enough reasons or excuses to convince ourselves that it was out of our control. Whereas, if we measure and track our goals on a monthly or even weekly basis, then we have at least 12 opportunities to rectify the issues that might be holding us back and get back on track towards achievement.
Sometimes we set ourselves up for disappointment when we create goals that rely on other people’s input or their role within it. We CANNOT demand change from anyone but ourselves, so make sure to own your goals entirely and have certainty that it is obtainable within the set time frame. I don’t like using the word ‘realistic’ because to have something outside of what is currently real for us, we must be able to think outside of it.
It’s a common mistake for people to take on new jobs or projects that don’t truly align with their long-term goals. Although it gives us instant certainty or gratification in the short term, it in fact has internal conflicts which unravel further down the line. At this stage, it becomes much more stressful than if we were to make a more informed decision at the time by asking a better question.
All goals need a time-centric target to aim towards and to track and measure progress. Accountability is a huge part of this journey, and we must remain honest with ourselves from the get-go while moving in the direction of our ambitions.
Some questions to ask are:
→ What can I do six months from now?
→ What can I do six weeks from now?
→ What can I do today to gain momentum?
When we produce well-formed goals we receive well-formed results. So be S.M.A.R.T, take control and make it look easy. We are all so much more capable than we think we are. Sometimes we just need a little oil on the chains to find the right gear.
By the end of this, you'll probably be reflecting on how much this resonates with some of your own real-life situations. I strongly urge you to take IMMEDIATE action that will drive your productivity to new heights. Decide what’s urgent in your personal and work life, create the list of tasks that you’re going to stack (intelligently), write down one big goal that would turn things around for you and make it ‘SMART’. One thing we must remember is that everyone in the world is given the same 24 hours in a day, and the only simple difference is how we spend them. This is the most valuable currency of all.