Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value
Good title, huh? I stole it from Albert Einstein.
Have you ever sat back and looked at the people around and wondered how they got so much done but you still feel like you are sitting still? Are you presently working with people that seem to just not put out the quantity or quality of work that you do yet they spend the same amount of time on the same project?
I have been dealing with this a lot and it has proved to be extremely costly. While it is no longer New Years Eve, I am making resolutions like crazy right now in an effort to de-clutter my life so I can focus on what is important and where I want to be in a year. Sometimes de-cluttering includes people.
In order for my efforts to be successful, it makes sense that I surround myself with people that are productive and productivity is all about time and how you use it.
Productive people are people that have learned that there are only 1440 minutes in a day, 10,080 minutes in a week and 525,600 minutes in a year. They are people that look at a calendar and count the days between events not the number of squares.
Here is an example:
I recently spoke to someone with whom I was sharing responsibility on a project. I mentioned that we only had three weeks until we had to have the project completed but they pointed out that the deadline was three months away.
Ahhh. I see the SQUARES on the calendar, but I am only counting the squares without writing in them which is how I came up with quite a different number. What I was saying was that we only had 21 days to complete the project even though the deadline was 90 days away.
Productive people speak in man-hours.
How long will this take? 126 hours if I do it myself. 63 hours each if we do it together. If there are 168 hours in a week, there is enough time, right? Wrong.
There are only 125 hours in a WORK WEEK.
There are only 40 hours in available work hours.
I spend 50% of my time on the phone each week.
That leaves 20 hours.
If we do nothing else, 63 hours is three weeks of time.
Unfortunately, people do not do the math and so they fall behind, they waste time, they get overwhelmed and they eventually become that person on the team that you hope does not show up tomorrow because they cost more than they are worth.
Unlike most people, productive people have learned how to maximize the hours in the day, giving them the ability to achieve more and do more than most people around them.
And that means cutting out the fat, or all the things that we waste our time on every day.
Productive people master the art of delegation. I work with several people that no matter how extensive the report is, will rewrite the entire report before submitting it up the chain. Acts like this double man hours which, as I pointed out above, could waste THREE WEEKS OF TIME in some cases.
Productive people understand how to prioritize tasks that are actually valuable and off-loading those that take lesser priority to other people.
Rather than doing everything themselves and hyper-focusing on every little thing, productive people understand that one tiny detail is not going to make or break the system.
The best thing about productive people is that they understand MATH and TIME. Rather than micro-managing, productive people do their part and allow the others involved to do theirs.
You don’t find productive people on Facebook. Sorry to all you Facebook lovers out there, but I am a Linkedin user for a reason. I choose who reads my stuff, I choose who I follow and have reasons why I follow them, I keep all of my posts and my viewing within a business realm and I never mosey over to the hell-born rabbit hole of Facebook.
Several years ago I realized that if I went to check my business posts on Facebook I suddenly had lost time, found out that someone I went to high school died of cancer (I don’t remember them), got the low-down on the Royal Family, saw three different trending dances, listened to a song about responders written and performed by a distant relatives ugly niece and found out that Coca-Cola is poisoning my favorite orange juice!
What was I doing again? Oh yeah. I forgot to look at the post on my company page…be right back.
It’s so easy to fall into a loop and mindlessly scroll through Instagram, Reddit, or Facebook for hours without even realizing how much time you’re wasting. What makes a non-productive worse is that they will assume you give a rat’s ass about the mindless drivel that has distracted them so they will send it to you or tag you in it.
For all you recovering alcoholics and drug addicts out there, this is why they say to find new friends when you get out of rehab!
A lot of the time I end up working with Eeyore. Eeyore is extremely non-productive because he is unmotivated due to past experiences and failures.
“It’s never gonna work, Pooh…”
Yep. They gotta go.
Get a grip. Sometimes things just don’t work out.
Just because something did not materialize the way you wanted it to does not mean it will get better if you rehash the nightmare over and over in business meetings or on unnecessary phone calls.
Productive people get disappointed too but they quickly Google “What went wrong?”, they read an article and they get back to it.
It would be fun to re-write Bible stories for business managers.. Imagine Jesus showing up on a hillside with 5000 potential clients waiting for a luncheon but nobody brought food. Jesus, always the realist, looks at His disciples and says, “This is never gonna work. We should have catered this event. I am so overwhelmed I cannot think straight. Tell them I was not feeling well and we will reschedule…”
At the end of the day, productivity is all about sustainability.
Someone who’s able to forgive themselves or set aside failures without dwelling on it all is going to be much more productive and in a better state of mind so that the solutions are easier to come by. It is a much better story when Jesus looks at His disciples and says, “Well, you bone-heads should have done Door Dash for this but since we are here, grab that lunch over there and let’s see what I can do!”
See, productive people want to get stuff done NOW.
I work with someone that lives in a fear of pushing forward. He has been doing this for so long it effects every decision. The thought of doing things RIGHT NOW creates such a fear that the person becomes immobilized. In the case of my friend, he is looking at 2 to 4 years to launch products or start marketing campaigns while allowing his competitors to scoop up all of the money that sits on the table TODAY.
In the face of uncertainty, maybe even fear, it’s tempting to escape into what-could-have-beens and what-will-bes.
We get entangled in the past and the future because it’s often more soothing, and a lot more gratifying, to problem-solve things that aren’t presently staring you in the face. It becomes an obsession of sorts and certainly a way of life.
Productive people are efficient because they take things one day at a time and make sure that those days count.
Non-productive people will initially look like they have super powers. You will spot this person right away. They are a “go-getter”, full of vim and vigor, chomping at the bit to get things started. Because of bad habits and poor lifestyle attitudes like I have mentioned, they quickly burn out.
Productive people will stay productive perhaps 60% of the time but will do so for years. A non-productive person will run at 100% for two weeks and then bail on the effort completely.
Productive people do not waste time worrying.
Guess what? Life ain’t fair, people can suck, there is no such thing as a “no-brainer” and everyone’s eyesight is different so not everyone will grasp your vision.
Move on. Set your sights ahead. Quit doubling down on what isn’t working. Invest in the future.
Productive people make lists and then get stuff done. I am not going to re-write a blog you should have already read. Go back to last week and read the blog about lists and how important they can be.
The problem with most of us is that we’re so darn stubborn.
We don’t give up on something that just isn’t working because we want to believe that all we need is a little more work to finish the job. We often just blurt out “I will do it myself” when a colleague lets us down. This is no real solution. Your 60 hour project just became a 120 hour project. The squares on the calendar show you only have so much time.
No matter how much effort you put into some projects, they may just not happen. Productive people (and Kenny Rogers) always know “when to fold ‘em”.
I used to think that productive people were those folks that simply could “multi-task”. That is not true, in fact, most non-productive people are really good at multi-tasking, they just are not finishers.
It’s been found that multitasking actually significantly lessens productivity because the brain is naturally designed to just focus on a single main objective at any time.
While you can spread yourself thin and engage in more activities simultaneously, that doesn’t mean you’re being more productive or more efficient.
Now, quit saying yes.
Can you give me a minute? Is that really the question?
Let’s translate that: Can you please come to my office so I can share my misery with you for the next two hours and put you behind in your own work? I don’t like to be alone.
Now, I am not saying to say “NO” every time, but be your own threat analyst. Is this request or interruption going to steal from me or benefit me?
Could you help me with this for the hundredth time?
Here is one I had last week:
Can you send me that report? I know you already sent it but if you just resend it I won’t have to look myself for where I put it when I didn’t read it right away.
Productive people understand just how much time is lost every time they say yes to something they didn’t want to do in the first place.
If you want to be productive, carefully automate what you can in your life. Auto bill pay is great. Apps that send you the score of a game are much quicker than hunting down the games online. I had an assistant once that spent hours (and only God knows how much ink) planning trips. She would Google the trip, then print not only the map but the step-by-step instructions rather than just use the GPS function on her phone as she drove.
I had another friend who recently passed away and here was his legacy:
He would call me and get my voice mail. He would leave a detailed story of what happened on my voice mail. Once done, he would text me to let me know he had left a voice mail. Then he would email me the entire story again. He would then text me to let me know that I could now read the story in my email. Eventually he would get me on the phone and would proceed to tell me the story verbally.
Be productive and quite waiting. Non-productive people wait for the perfect moment and become professionals at procrastination. There is no perfect moment.
As diabetes attacks me everyday and my eyesight fails more and more, as it gets harder to stand and even harder to walk, I am reminded that we have limited time on this earth. Waiting for the perfect moment can be a waste of time.
If your agency needs an overhaul, then start it. If your business is ready to expand, go for it. If you are surrounded by need, meet it. Neither you nor I know if we will have tomorrow, but we both know we have NOW.