Did you know the average office worker wastes around 40% of their workday? If you are a business owner, I know you don’t like reading statistics like this. The findings showed that this is not because they aren’t smart, but because they were never taught organizing skills to cope with the increasing workloads and demands.

Not everybody struggles to manage their time of course, but unfortunately most people do. What separates those ‘productive’ individuals from the ‘unproductive’ ones? It isn’t intelligence of course or the amount of hours in the day, but the extent to which you use time management tools to support you.

Here are 5 examples of how an unproductive person might differ from a productive person on a daily basis.

Let’s call them Peter and Mary. Peter always gets his work done and leaves the office with an immense sense of accomplishment each day. Mary rarely meets her deadlines and leaves work feeling stressed and overwhelmed on most days.

Here is the difference…

1.  Every morning when Peter arrives at work, he sets daily objectives, he gets crystal clear on what he wants to have accomplished by the end of the day. Then he breaks down his objectives into action steps he needs to take, ie; how many phone calls he will need to make, proposals to send out, etc and lastly he prioritizes his actions. He is clear on exactly what he needs to do and how, so he reaches his goals in a quarter of the time it takes Mary.

Mary jumps aimlessly from one task to the next without a sense of clear direction or actually knowing why she is doing something. She starts a task, realizes she needs more information to continue, so she stops and does something else, back and forth she goes.

2.  Peter always feels good; he comes into work well rested and ready for the day ahead. He has a lot of energy, he is ready to take the day on and he has a powerful mindset about what he wants to achieve that day. He plans his difficult tasks for the morning when he feels best and leaves the easiest for the times he has less energy.

Mary comes into work tired and still quite sleepy. It takes her about an hour to really get to work and feel focused. She snacks on donuts and coffee all day and her energy goes up and plummets at random times, often, she just doesn’t feel like doing anything because she doesn’t have the energy.

3.  Peter plans his breaks throughout the day, he also only checks his email every few hours and has a system to keep it at inbox-zero. He groups all the calls he needs to make at certain times, all his travelling on certain days and he has a lot of structure in his days.

Mary always overlooks how many breaks she takes or how much time she wastes every day on social media and surfing the internet pointlessly. She is constantly checking her email and worse, she doesn’t manage it, so she re-reads them over and over before taking action, she has hundreds of emails piling up to be read.

4.  When Peter needs to stay focused, he removes all distractions around him. He decides that he is going to work on a proposal for an hour, so he puts his phone on silence, he closes his email and all the other programs and he puts on headphones. He sets himself a challenge to complete his task within the hour. He is focused, concentrated and he always walks away with an immense sense of accomplishment.

Mary is not proactive but reactive, checking her phone when it beeps or her email when she wants. She starts a task but she is not so focused so when she gets distracted, she starts doing something else and then returns to the task. She doesn’t make an effort to concentrate on what she is doing, so she is not producing the quality that she could. She allows her colleagues and phone to interrupt her, she never feels like she accomplishes much and she doesn’t know why.

5.   Peter is more productive because he has a more productive mindset. He is goal driven, he loves what he does and he wants to achieve great results, he uses this as motivation to work well and put in that extra bit of effort. Peter is optimistic and he doesn’t see challenges as obstacles, but opportunities for growth.

Mary doesn’t have a productive mindset. She feels like a victim most of the time, she is not motivated by what she does and any setback is grossly exaggerated. She isn’t proactive in what needs to be done, but rather reactive and just does the least amount possible, she is just passing the day at work, thinking about when it will be over.

These examples might seem a bit extreme and perhaps I exaggerated in some points, but from my experience, this is the reality of many people. What is your reality like? Are you closer to Peter’s style of working or Mary’s?

If you want to be more productive in anything and everything you do, apply the principles above, they are the most fundamental differences between the results you will obtain at the end of the day.

What do you think needs to change? What are your biggest time thieves and what undermines your productivity the most?

 “Those who make the worst of their time most complain about its shortness.” – La Bruyere

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