1. Busy people multitask. Productive people focus
Last holiday I spent time in reading about the lives of world’s great mountain climbers; they have many things common regarding their mindset. One of them was Kilian Jornet who inspired me writing this article. There is a great difference between his life in the mountains and the life he sees in the city.
Kilian Jornet, an athlete who dominates two sports: alpine skiing and mountain trail running (skyrunning). He is 23 years old, but his values and approach to life and sport transmit a maturity far beyond his 23 years of age. Kilian’s mother says “I believe the most important thing for me was to pass on values to him to be a good person, to love nature, to always live in harmony with what he thinks, and believes; to be sincere”. Indeed she succeeded.
Kilian spends most of his life in the mountains. He ran up and down Everest. 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.
Few times a year he arrives into the city of Barcelona in his campervan. He gets out. He parks. 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 get to know 10 major differences between busy people and productive people.
Productive people focus on a single task with frequent breaks in it which improves mental agility. Here I want to tell you about the Pomodoro technique. It is a time management technique which uses a timer to break down work into intervals traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. This technique is named after the tomato-shaped (Italian word pomodoro = "tomato") kitchen timer that was used by Cirillo who invented it. It is brutal, but it is effective. Identify a task to be done (for instance, writing this blog post or completing chapter of a book). Set a timer to 25 minutes. Work on the task until the time sounds. Any distraction (I have other tasks to do, I must check email, I must get some water, I must go to the bathroom) and you reset the timer to 25. How many pomodoros can you complete in a day?
2. Busy people talk about how little time they have. Productive people make time for what is important
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.
Any time we spend on excuses is time not spent on creation. If you allow yourself to practice excuses, with time 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.
3. Busy people talk about how busy they are. Productive people let their results do the talking
There is an important thing that Feeling productive is not the same as being productive. I can feel productive while I’m playing my favorite game and I can feel unproductive while I’m producing an excellent blog post that will help others take better actions
It is a clear binary thing. For example talking about studying is not studying. On the same lines Published authors don’t talk about their next book – they are focused 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.
4. Busy people keep all doors open. Productive people close doors
As a young person we have lot of enthusiasm and it is good to open options. It is good to want to learn languages, to climb mountains, to go to university, to work in organization, to live in another country, to travel. 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 english – I will speak english at the end of the year. If my goal this year is to speak english, earn 20% more, travel to foreign countries, get fit, cook healthy food, accept all the invitations by friends… I will not speak english at the end of this year.
5. 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.
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.
6. 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.
7. Busy people say yes quickly. Productive people say yes slowly
Warren Buffet’s definition of integrity is: “You say no to most things”.
Learn to say NO. 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. Busy people respond quickly to emails while 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. Choose wisely according to your priorities.
8. 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.
9. 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.
Busy people are frustrated. They want to be valued for their effort, not for their results.
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.
10. Busy people talk about how they will change. Productive people are making those changes.
There is a saying: 'I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.'
A successful person 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.
Don’t let your potential go to waste. Create something amazing, Do something meaningful. This is its own reward.
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