How to Tell if You Are Busy or Productive

When was the last time someone told you that they are busy? Chances are it was the last conversation you had. It goes something like this

  • Jim: What’s up man?
  • Jack: Nothing man, what’s up with you?
  • Jim: Nothing, how are things, what have you been up to?
  • Jack: Good man, just really busy, how about you?
  • Jim: Same, been so busy lately.

Some people answer “busy” before you even ask the question. Recently a friend of mine switched up the conversation. His response was “busy doing what?” He wasn’t sarcastic (as I would have been). He was curious. It got me thinking though. People are busy, but busy doing what? How can you tell if Jack is busy or productive?

“Don’t mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get faked out by being busy. The question is: Busy doing what?” 
– Jim Rohn

I Was Busy:

Before Silverback Social, I was busy. I had a full time job that was 50+ hours a week. I played in 3 softball leagues and 6 fantasy football leagues. I worked out for 60-90 mins a day (work out/socialize). I watched every show that Alan Sepinwall would review. I watched 8 hours of NFL red zone every Sunday (followed by the Sunday Night Game of the week). I was going on so many bachelor parties I had to remind myself who was getting married.

I wasn’t alone:

TV Consumption: Average American per week

  • 18-24 = 22 hours, 27 mins.
  • 25-34 = 27 hours, 36 mins.
  • 35-49 = 33 hours, 40 mins.

Social Media Usage:

  • 15-19 = 3 hours per day
  • 20-29 = 2 hours per day

Fantasy Football: 32 million Americans spend $467 per person or about $15 billion in total playing.

The FSTA estimates that the average fantasy gamer spends 3 hours per week managing a team(s), translating to 1.2 billion hours for 23 million players over a 17 week season. Of course, all of these numbers are a bit sketchy because of things like drafts add hours along with off-season reading and discussion. Anyway, combining these estimates with a $24 per hour average wage in the U.S. yields a time value of $29 billion per year. Using average income figures from the FSTA for players deconstructed to an hourly wage of $46 increases the estimate up to $55 billion. Added to actual expenditures and ad revenues, the industry amounts to at anywhere from $40 something-billion to over $70 billion per year in tangible and intangible activity.”

Define Productive:

The question of productivity boils down to what you want to achieve. I use GPS as an example. Most cars are equipped with GPS. In order to direct you to your desired location the GPS needs two pieces of information. Where you are. Where you want to be.

Where you want to be helps to determine your productivity. When I didn’t have clear set goals or business ownership, I was busy doing all of the above. As I grew older, I began setting goals. At Silverback we set goals for our company.

Once set, your goals define “productive” for you. My life didn’t drastically change over night but my mindset began to shift. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. How can we make the most of our 24 hours. I had to look in the mirror, look at my schedule and say are my decisions taking me closer to my goals?

You Make Time for What You Think is Valuable:

This quote is a favorite of mine. When someone is “too busy”, they have other priority’s ahead of the option offered. There is nothing wrong with that. For me, I began to realize a lot of what I was doing was not bringing me closer to my goals. I began to make some adjustments. I got rid of cable. Relax – I still have hbo now and showtime anytime. I am able to watch the shows I enjoy when I am able to watch them. I still play fantasy football. I play in less leagues and work with co-managers to ease some of the time commitment. I began doing CrossFit at the recommendation of our CEO. I get twice the workout in half the time. I stopped playing softball. Some of the goals I set were long term goals. I didn’t have a girlfriend no less a wife and kids. I did have a picture of my future, my family. Softball wasn’t getting me closer to a life that would provide for them. I took that free time – 3 nights a week, 2 hours a night. I began investing it in to avenues that could get me closer to my goals. Simple question. Simple answer.

How Can You Be Productive?

  1. Write down your goals – Is your goal to party and meet girls (or guys)? If so spend every summer weekend at the shore. That’s productive for you. Say your goal is to pay off student loans in 5 years vs. 30. If you spend every weekend at the shore you aren’t being productive.
  2. Audit your calendar – Highlight the items that are not in line with your goals. Be honest with yourself and think about what could be there in place of it.
  3. Make the most out of your time – One of my favorite books is It’s About Time. This book is a road map to doing twice as much in half the time.
  4. Who are you spending your time with? – Association is a key to achieving goals. I want the people I associate with to either have achieved the goals I am aiming for or to be of similar mindset to me.
  5. Have Fun – Being productive doesn’t mean be boring. I still go out, still see my friends, and still do the things I want to do. I am having more fun now than 2 years ago. Being productive is fun. Working toward accomplishing goals is fun. Accomplishing them is real fun.

What’s Valuable to Me?

Here are some of the things I make a priority to do every day.

  • Exercise
  • Read for 30 mins.
  • Listen to a podcast or audio book.
  • Talk to my gf, my parents and in particular 3 of my best friends.
  • Cross something off of my To Do List.
  • Write down 3 things I am grateful for.
  • 3 mins. of Creative Visualization.