1. Busy people want to look like they have a mission. Productive people have a mission for their lives.
Busy people hide their doubt about the destination of their lives by acting confident in their little steps. Productive people allow others to see the doubt in their little steps because they are clear on the destination.
2. Busy people have many priorities. Productive people have few priorities.
Nobody is ever too busy, if they care they will make time. Life is a question of priorities. If you have 3 priorities, you have priorities. If you have 25 priorities, you have a mess.
3. Busy people say yes quickly. Productive people say yes slowly.
If you don’t say “no” to most things, you are diving your life up into millions of little pieces spread out among other people’s priorities. Integrity is that your values are clear and that your time is going to serve those values.
4. Busy people focus on action. Productive people focus on clarity before action.
To focus on the top 20% of activities, you must gain clarity about what those activities are for yourself. The greatest resource you will ever have to guide you to live a good life is your own personal experience – if well documented. Sadly, most people only document their life in Facebook status updates. Keep a diary and take 5 minutes every day to reflect on the past day, on what worked, on what didn’t work; and some time on what inspires you.
5. Busy people keep all doors open. Productive people close doors.
If my goal this year is to learn Spanish – I will speak Spanish at the end of the year. If my goal this year is to speak Spanish, earn 30% more, travel to 10 countries, get fit, find a girlfriend, go to all the concerts… I will not speak Spanish at the end of this year.
6. Busy people talk about how busy they are. Productive people let their results do the talking.
Talking about writing is not writing. Published authors don’t talk about their next book – they are focused on producing it. Past performance is the only good indicator of future performance.
7. Busy people talk about how little time they have. Productive people make time for what is important.
Any time we spend on excuses is time not spent on creation. If you allow yourself to practice excuses, you will get better and better at excuses. Productive people don’t use time as an excuse.
8. Busy people multitask. Productive people focus.
9. Busy people respond quickly to emails. Productive people take their time.
Email is a handy list of priorities. The problem: they are other people’s priorities, not yours. If you respond to every email, you are dividing up your life into a thousand tiny bits that serve other people’s priorities.
10. Busy people want other people to be busy. Productive people want others to be effective.
Busy managers measure hours of activity, productive managers measure output. Busy managers are frustrated by others looking relaxed, looking like they have time, looking like they are enjoying their work. Productive managers love seeing others enjoy their work, love creating an environment in which others can excel.
11. Busy people talk about how they will change. Productive people are making those changes.
Spend less time talking about what you will do and dedicate that time to creating the first step.
Related: 4 Ways to Stand out When You’re New