A friend emailed me this cartoon so I cannot credit its artist but I would if I could because I love it.
Those of us who have worked in a cubicle prairie dog colony recognize the cartoon’s essence of truth: If you look busy, people will think you are busy. And if they think you are busy you won’t ever have to build a napping space under your desk to avoid work like Seinfeld’s George Costanza.
Purposeful striding — walking quickly while carrying things — is doubly effective at discouraging co-workers from bugging you and a great to maximize exercise without interruption.
There is a big difference between busy and productive and, although most people realize that difference exists, too few know how to minimize the former and maximize the latter.
The key, of course, is making better time choices. Since everyone is given the same amount of time each day, week, month, and year, it helps to compare the time choices productive people make against those who are merely busy. The differences underscore what productive people do differently.
The primary finding is this: Productive people invest more time pursuing things with a sufficient and relevant payoff while wasting as little time as possible.
I teach my clients that everyone’s waking hours, whether he or she recognizes it or not, will pass in a daisy chain of activities with each being categorized one of four ways:
- They waste that time
- They spend that time
- They invest that time, or
- They cherish that time.
Busy people do too much of #1 and #2 — wasting and spending time — at the expense of not enough #3 and #4.
Productive people are different. They despise #1 and waste as little time as possible, do only as much of #2 as they must, and consciously make choices that let them maximize #3 and #4 — investment time and cherish time.
Since time is measured by waking minutes in a day, it is finite; and if one category increases another must decrease. Our behavioral choices determine which time utilization categories grow and which ones will shrink.
Smarter decisions and better efforts will accumulate to produce better results. Less impactful choices like those produced from too much #1 or too much #2 will never produce the results of more and smarter investments (#3).
We are all forced to tolerate a certain amount of wasted time; and life also requires a certain amount of “spent” time. (note: Spent time involves necessary things like getting ready in the morning, doing chores, transporting from A to B, etc.).
The key to transforming a busy life into one that’s more productive follows this path:
- Be aware of the four different ways time passes by.
- Own your daily choices. Each time you undertake an activity, test yourself. Ask, “Is this wasted time, spent time, invested time, or cherished time?” Police your choices. Make sure you are good with each answer.
- If it’s wasted time, stop immediately. Or as close to immediately as possible.
- If it’s spent time, hurry up. Complete whatever you are doing as quickly as possible. Do not dawdle. Hustle!
- If it’s investment time, keep going. Maximize your work quality and achieve the desired output. Block out distractions and derailments. Focus on a great result.
- If it’s cherish time: be aware of it, internalize it, and be grateful for it. These are the moments that enrich and nourish your life. A life devoid of cherish time is hollow. Too many workaholics have big holes here.
Throughout my career I have discussed this topic — Busy vs. Productive — with a wide variety of ultra-successful men and women who seem to share these five things:
- They live with urgency. People who get stuff done live with a need for accomplishment. Mediocre performers lack that passion. Mediocre performers leave too much for tomorrow that could be done today. Productive people don’t.
- They are great time managers. And they are always open for better ways to navigate days and challenges.
- They have zero fear of eating an elephant one bite at a time — provided activities are time investments aimed directly at sustaining progress. They will police inefficiencies as impediments and act quickly.
- They prefer to be surrounded by people who look at life the same way. Productive people have short fuses for inefficient people and processes. Some are brusque and rude about it.
- They are very proud of being more productive than others and well aware of what makes them that way. High achievers know they are good at getting things done. Being productive is intrinsic to their DNA. Because efficiency is part of a high performer’s personal brand, he or she will rise each morning committed to protecting his or her personal success formula.
The business world is full of busy people but short on productive ones. Talent who moves to the high-performance end of the bell curve will always be in demand.
Busy is a collection of habits. Productive is different. Productive involves choices. Make better choices and you will improve your efficiency.
Laurel Kirtz saysFebruary 12, 2015 at 3:31 pm
The cartoon mocks the style of the artist: Cyanide and Happiness.
The image when searched for in Google images (which is a great way to find out who an artist of a piece artwork is), the search results reveal that the image originally had the authorship: 2010-2011 http://www.SOMETHINGOFTHATILK.com.
Ocean Palmer saysFebruary 12, 2015 at 8:59 pm
Thank you for letting me know! So glad to learn of the cartoon’s original creator Ty Devries. Love to give artists and authors due credit and this is a wonderful piece so thank you for taking the time to write. Fans of Ty’s work should check out the site Laurel has been kind enough to share.
Thanks again for taking the time to write.