Time is the greatest currency. Everyone has the same amount of it and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
Are you using your time productively? According to a study based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most people are productive for only about 3 hours per day. Alarming or not, we can all benefit from improving our daily productivity. Even Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has taken a clear stance on how important productivity is.
So how can you tell if you are being productive? Not just staying busy, but actually working productively towards a goal or deadline? Here is a checklist that may help.
1. Did you wake up before 9AM today?
With only 24 hours in a day, it’s obvious that those who stay awake for more of it will have more time at their disposal. If you’ve read my article about being a lark, owl or hummingbird, you may have some reservations about this waking up before 9am concept. While it’s certainly possible to get a lot of work done at night, mornings are when the majority of businesses open and many (not all, but many) industry professionals are making negotiations and decisions. To make it more achievable to wake up early, set yourself up for a good night's sleep first with the right mattress and a comfortable mattress topper. Want to be more productive with your time? Wake up and make moves!
2. Have you nourished your body today?
Studies have shown that people who regularly exercise or engage in healthy habits perform at high levels. In the words of Tony Robbins, motion creates emotion, which is another way of saying the way you treat your body will affect how your mind feels throughout the day. If you’re tired, you might not perform at the level of productivity you could have. Have you taken the time to exercise, eat healthy or at least avoid junk food today? To be productive you need to have productivity energy!
3. Do you have a clear to-do list today?
Productivity often involves completing multiple tasks per day. If you don’t have a clearly defined to-do list, you may find yourself forgetting things. That budget forecast you were supposed to submit at 3PM could have slipped your mind, but it surely will not have slipped your bosses mind- and they’ll be the first to remind you! I like to keep a to-do list on my phone, even just in a notes app where I add and remove tasks that need to be completed on a daily basis. Not having a clear to-do list will also lead to stress and feelings of being overwhelmed, which can greatly reduce your productivity.
4. Have you taken proactive action?
The biggest hurdle to getting something done is getting started. When being productive, you must go beyond simply replying to conversations, you need to instigate them. Understand that the work you do today will determine your success tomorrow. Instead of waiting to hear from a client, why not take the first step and initiate the conversation? Of course you must be sensitive to the dynamics of a situation, but in general thinking ahead and taking action will improve your productivity immensely. Taking proactive steps forward also builds perseverance!
5. Are you working better than yesterday?
The mindset behind productivity is one of constant improvement. We become productive in order to get more things done, to stay on top of our responsibilities and to reach our goals faster. Ask yourself, are you performing better today than yesterday? If not, you have opportunity to be more productive today. This process of growth is critical to both our work life and personal life, which I wrote more about in greater detail here.
Becoming more productive means getting more done in a shorter amount of time, while preserving the quality of work. Whether it's for your job, relationship or a passion project, becoming more productive will also greatly improve the quality of life for you and those around you.