Stop Doing Productive and Start Being Productive

Stop Doing Productive and Start Being Productive

Here’s a typical day for most people:

  1. Wake up
  2. Get ready for work
  3. Go to work
  4. Work
  5. Get ready to go home
  6. Go home
  7. Do “home” work
  8. Have some leisure time
  9. Go to bed

This might be simplifying things, but these are the basics. Sure, some of these things could be arranged in a different order, but they do happen at some point in the day.

But there’s more to it than that.

There are specifics. There are details. There are finer points there than just the itemized list.

Yet we don’t break it down to the specifics – the details – as often as we might want – or should. Instead we just go through the list, checking things off as we go. We strive to get to the end of the list, but another list awaits the very next day.

Over time, we work at getting faster at completing the things on our itemized list. We work at getting out the door faster for work so we can beat traffic. We cram in as much as we can during our leisure time so we can find more enjoyment during our leisure time.

The problem with just adding speed to the mix on its own is that we run the risk of being less effective. When we only add more speed or more details to the things on our list, somehow we lose our ability to be more intentional. We even lose special moments when we always do things with speed.

In our haste to do more, we don’t fully taste what we do.

We consume; we don’t experience. We settle; we don’t savor. All of this means that we “do” productive.

We should “be” productive.

“Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment.” – Deepak Chopra

While I don’t agree with everything Mr. Chopra talks about, I like what he says about being and how it relates to time. Being is not associated with time.

Rather than spend time speeding things up for the sake of doing, take time to think about whether or not what you are doing is worth you doing at all. Instead of checking off as many boxes as possible, check the boxes you have on your list and make conscious choices about them.

In order to make the above happen – to get that time you need to do whatever you want to do – you need to be aware and have focus. (What’s even more interesting is that you need to be aware to have full focus and you need to have focus in order to be fully aware.)

I’d like to offer a 90 second exercise to help you become aware and find a small measure of focus.

  1. After you’re done reading this piece, just stop and do nothing for 30 seconds. It may help to focus on your breath and close your eyes while doing so. But do this no longer than 30 seconds today.
  2. Grab a piece of paper and a pen/pencil and write down everything you think you need to do, ought to do, or want to do. You should time this. Stop once the 30 seconds is up.
  3. Take another 30 seconds to choose one of those things to work on today. Commit to working on it so that you can honestly say you made progress on it before day’s end.

That’s it. That’s all I want you to do. By doing this, you’re being aware. And by working on just one thing intentionally, you’re exercising focus.

In short, you’re being productive.