Productivity or Spinning Your Wheels?

productivityWhen asked about productivity, often I hear people comment about how hard they are working and how many hours a day they spend on their “jobs.” Many times there are complaints about the fact that life isn’t fair and that other people are so lucky or other people have connections. Hmmm…

I ask how they structure their days and request a description of their daily schedules and how productivity plays a role. Many times they start by saying that they plunge into their emails first and often get caught up in dealing with different issues for an hour or two. Regarding their productivity, they say that they begin to work on the tasks at hand for their “jobs.” If they are writers they pick a subject and write or continue to write about that subject until they finish.

Then I ask, “What next?” “I check my emails and follow through on them.” I ask, “How long do you spend on emails the second time?” The response is generally the same. “Oh, I don’t know, maybe an hour or so.”

The conversation continues much the same until we have gotten to the end of the day, which they say may end as late as “nine pm-ish.” I then hear, “See? Now you get how hard I work and my productivity level and how long my days are. And yet I am getting nowhere!” Hmmm…” I think.

So what is wrong? Why is nothing happening for these people? Do their actions support productivity? What can be changed in order for them to become successful? There is no easy answer because there is always more involved than what is immediately perceived. That said there are several simple steps that can be taken to create entirely different outcomes.


  1. The day before, plan a schedule for the next day and a time that is realistic for the workday.
  2. De-clutter workspace.
  3. List priorities/tasks in order of importance. List desired outcomes for each task.
  4. Focus on being productive, not busy.
  5. Follow the schedule prepared.
  6. Plan each task and take into account the length of time that should be required.
  7. Check emails at times that will not impede accomplishing the tasks at hand.
  8. Set a timer to go off every 2 hours. Take 15-minute breaks when the timer goes off and move around/exercise and gain perspective or regain perspective.
  9. Keep appropriate snacks and water available.
  10. 30 minutes before you have planned your day to end, list the day’s accomplishments and why they were accomplished. List reasons why other tasks were not successful.
  11. Accordingly, map out the next day’s schedule.
  12. At end of workday, let the day be over! Do things that you enjoy and get a good night’s sleep.

Focus and enjoy the scenery as you go places!!

“Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.”  ~ Glenn Turner


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