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Top 10 Differences Between Productive and Unproductive People

productive-vs-unproductive

Productivity is one of my favorite topics. I believe that everyone who wants to achieve greater success in life, be it in their professional or personal lives, we all want to be more effective, get more done, and make life works in every area.

Striving to be more productive does not only meant for those who want to excel in their business or career, in fact, everyone should work on improving their productivity.

It’s easy to understand, in today’s world, everything wants a piece of our attention. Even social media has multiple platforms to choose from. Do you use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter? Do you check all of them and how much time you spend on these social media platforms?

You see, we have been getting more connected than ever. And if you don’t work on improving your productivity, you will quickly lose your direction and focus, and the next thing you will find is that you are being busy but are not getting things done.

Thus, it is important to understand how productivity works and learn to improve it.

But where should you start? Here’s a great place beginning – understand what productive and unproductive people do.

Once you understand the differences between productive people and unproductive people, do what the productive people do and avoid what the unproductive people. As simple as that.

Here are 10 differences between what works and what don’t in productivity:

1. Productive people are mission-oriented, unproductive people lack the mission in life.

Productive people are mission-oriented, unproductive people lack the mission in life.

Productive people have a sense of purpose. They live lives according to their mission. They have an objective and they know what they need to do to get there.

In other words, productive people have a clear sense of direction. They understand what kind of life they want to live and hence, they are living each day working toward that direction.

On the other hand, unproductive people have no sense of purpose. They don’t know what they want out of life and they lack direction.

When you have no idea what you want to accomplish in life, guess what will happen? You will become like a lost sheep, following wherever the crowd goes. You will become part of a mass movement and you just do what most people do.

What you can do to be productive:

So, if you want to be productive, the first thing you need to do is to identify your mission, vision, and purpose in life. Find out what kind of life you want to have and start living that way.

The only way you can tell if you are traveling in the right direction is to know your destination. If you don’t even where you’re going, any direction can be the right direction.

Find out what you want to achieve in your life. What are your objectives? What do you want to accomplish in life? If you have no idea what you want in life, use Goal Setting Formula to help you.

2. Productive people plan their days and lives, unproductive people live life as it is.

Productive people plan their days and lives, unproductive people live life as it is.

How often do you plan your days and lives? Most people don’t do planning because they don’t think that planning is important. Perhaps, the only planning they do is to think about what they should eat for lunch and dinner.

Stop living a reactive life, instead, choose to be proactive. And the only way you can be proactive is to plan for your life.

When you have no idea what you want to do, you become reactive and fall into someone else’s plan.

Think about it, if you have no plan for the day, guess what will happen? Well, you will sleep longer hours since you have nothing to do, you will waste more time on Facebook and Instagram to check out what others are doing, and you will say “yes” whenever someone invites you out because you have no plan after all.

This is the kind of reactive life you want to avoid. Unproductive people are reactive and they respond to everything that comes to them because they don’t have a plan.

What you can do to be productive:

Actively plan for your days, weeks, months, years, and also your life. If you want to be productive, you must plan for what to happen. Here’s an amazing saying from Larry Winget about planning:

Larry-Winget-quote

“Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy, or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan.”

Your plan may not work, but it is not about whether things are going to happen as you have planned. It is more about actively planning so that you know what to do and where to go. You want to be conscious and live an intentional life rather than a directionless life.

Therefore, start planning. Schedule your planning time and make it your habit to plan. Read this article and learn how to plan your life.

3. Productive people work on their priorities, unproductive people have no priorities.

Productive people work on their priorities, unproductive people have no priorities.

Are you consciously working on your priorities or you don’t know and you just simply do whatever that comes to you?

When it comes to getting things done, not all tasks are created equal. Some tasks will give you the most results while others will not produce the impact you desire.

If you feel that you are busy with work and life and don’t have enough time for other things, then perhaps, you are not prioritizing your tasks. You have to understand that in order for life to work, you need to work on what will give you the most results.

You don’t want to spend 16 hours working but at the end of the day, you’re just being busy and have nothing to show for. You want to be effective.

Productive people do the main thing first because they know that their main thing is to make sure the main thing gets done.

Unproductive people do whatever that comes to them. They don’t prioritize and as a result, they spend their time doing things that are not getting them the most effective results they want.

What you can do to be productive:

Look at your plan or your to-do list, and prioritize your tasks. You want to spend your time doing the work that gets you the most result first. You don’t want to waste time being busy and get no results.

I bet you must have heard about the Pareto’s Rule or the 80/20 Rule. You want to focus on the 20% work that gives you 80% results.

Spend most of your time on doing the work that will move you to your goal the most. So, learn to prioritize now.

4. Productive people say “no” to distractions, unproductive people say “yes” to everything.

Productive people say "no" to distractions, unproductive people say "yes" to everything.

Do you know that being productive is not about saying yes to every opportunity that comes to you? Being productive is about saying no to everything that distracts you and is not contributing to your goals.

Productive people understand that if they want to get more done, they need to focus their energy and time on things that really matter. They will not say yes to everything, instead, they are goals-oriented. They know they cannot split themselves too thin by focusing on too many things at once.

Unproductive people, on the contrary, believe that being productive is about doing as much as possible. Thus, they started a few projects at the same time. They focus on many goals instead of just one or two. They take on every opportunity that comes to them because they believe that more is better.

Doing more is not being productive. Doing more is being busy but getting no real results. If you are serious about being productive and you really want to create extraordinary success in your life, start focusing on just one or two of your goals, and then work relentlessly toward them.

Having a completed book that you can publish is more powerful than having 10 half-written books.

You don’t want to start 10 websites at the same time, but you want to focus on just one in the beginning, work on it until it gains traction, and only then, you can consider starting another website.

Do you get it? Anything that is not getting you toward your goal is a distraction. Get rid of it.

What you can do to be productive:

Focus on doing just one thing (goal, project, task, etc.) at a time. Don’t chase two rabbits at the same time because if you do, you’re going to lose both.

If you are serious about creating amazing success in life, use the 90/90/1 Rule. For the next 90 days, use your first 90 minutes to focus on just one goal and work on it.

This way, you will make sure you work on your most important goal each day. And after 90 days, you will definitely see great result in the area you want to improve.

Read: 10 Amazing Ways How to Improve Your Focus

5. Productive people work on their dreams and goals, unproductive people talk about other things and people.

Productive people work on their dreams and goals, unproductive people talk about other things and people.

There is no way you can be productive by just thinking about getting things done. The only way to create the result is to execute.

Don’t just think about what you want, take action. Don’t just talk and dream about your goals or living a successful life, go and make it happen. Don’t wait and don’t procrastinate.

Productive people are always making progress. Unproductive people make more excuses than progress.

  • They think and talk about what they want, but they don’t take real action.
  • They tell others that they want to start a business, but they don’t do it.
  • They say they want more sales, but they are not willing to put in the effort.
  • They dream about the success they desire, but they don’t work on it.

Therefore, don’t just dream about what you want, do something about it. The distance between your dreams and reality is called action. Without action, nothing moves.

What you can do to be productive:

Focus on getting things done. Don’t just talk and dream about what you want, show real, solid actions that will get you the results you want.

Make progress every day. Each day, take at least one action step to move toward your goals. Of course, if you are truly committed, you can do more. If you do just 5 little things a day, you will have 150 victories in a month. After a year, you will have created 1,825 small victories.

Do you know how powerful and how much your life can change by taking small little actions every day?

6. Productive people find time to make things work, unproductive people find things to kill time.

Productive people find time to make things work, unproductive people find things to kill time.

There is no such that you are too busy and can’t find a way to make things work. We all have 24 hours a day. If you say that you don’t have enough time, what you really mean is that you lack a good system to make things work for you.

Extraordinary people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Charles Darwin, and Aristotle, they were polymaths. They excelled in many things because they knew it is not about having more time, it is about managing themselves better.

Richard Branson founded Virgin Group in the 1970s, and today, he controls more than 400 companies across multiple industries in the world. It is not about having not enough time, it is about having the right system.

Sometimes, you just can’t do everything just by yourself, you need help. You need leverage to get more things done. You certainly can’t build a billion dollars business on your own, but you can hire a team for help.

The same goes for every area of your life. Sometimes you need help to accomplish something. And sometimes you need a better system to manage and get things done.

Productive people understand this, and they make the most out of their time while unproductive people either focus on being busy, or they are too free that they need to find things to do to kill time.

What you can do to be productive:

Understand that we all have the same amount of time every day – 24 hours. And there is only so much you can do by yourself. And if you want to get more done and reach a higher level, you need to seek help. You can either leverage on other people’s time and energy, you need to build a better system to automate your tasks.

You don’t want to be busy just to be busy. You want to be effective. You want to use 2 hours to produce 4 hours of work and not the opposite. Learn to be effective, my friend.

Here’s a good book you should read about being effective: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, written by Greg McKeown.

7. Productive people believe things can get better if they improve, unproductive people believe things are fixed and there’s nothing they can do.

Productive people believe things can get better if they improve, unproductive people believe things are fixed and there's nothing they can do.

If you want to be productive, there is one fundamental mindset you need to adopt – you must believe that you can improve things and produce better results.

Productive people believe that things will get better as long as they improve. They have a growth mindset.

Conversely, unproductive people believe that things are fixed. They don’t think that they can make the situation better or change it. They have a fixed mindset and they don’t think they can improve the results.

You have to understand that it is not about the size of your problems or the situations you are facing, rather, it is the size of you.

Entrepreneurs like Richard Branson understands he can leverage on companies, people, and system to build more success. They believe that they are capable of being more productive as long as they continue to learn and implement the right strategy.

Unproductive people fail to see beyond themselves. They allow there are blinded by their current situation and that is why they believe that they don’t have enough time to get more done or they are simply too busy.

What you can do to be productive:

Switch your mindset and focus on upgrading yourself. Things are not fixed. And it is not about how much time you have, it is about what you do. After all, we all have 24 hours and if you say that you’re too busy or you don’t have enough time, do you know that Albert Einstein, Elon Musk, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and every other extraordinary people have the same 24 hours too?

Change your mindset to be more productive. It starts with you. When you believe you can achieve more by creating a better system and upgrading your skills, the possibilities of how much you can achieve are limitless.

8. Productive people create deadlines to get their tasks done, unproductive people leave their tasks open-ended.

Productive people create deadlines to get their tasks done, unproductive people leave their tasks open-ended.

So, tell me, do you have deadlines? Do you know when are you going to deliver the work and when do you need to achieve your goals?

A lot of people don’t set deadlines for the things that they want. For instance, they want to get a promotion, but they don’t have a clear and specific deadline as to when they want that to happen.

As a result, they don’t get promoted at all. You cannot determine when you’re going to get promoted, but having a clear deadline motivates you. It reminds you that you need to work harder and serve better in your career. It gives you a sense of purpose.

If you don’t have a deadline, it doesn’t matter when you’re going to work harder. And hence, most people don’t work hard because they think they have all the time they need.

Having deadlines help you get things done. You may not always reach your targets within the specific time frame, but at least knowing WHEN you need to get something done GETS you moving and making progress.

What you can do to be productive:

Your task here is simple – set deadlines. I want to show you a great YouTuber who has a channel called Nas Daily. He committed himself to make and publish a one-minute video every day, for 1,000 days. And because he sets a deadline to publish a video before 9 AM every day, he achieved his goal. Watch the video below:

If you think that setting deadlines for everything in life is too extreme, you don’t have to. Identify your most important goals, tasks, and things you want to achieve in life, and set a clear and specific deadline for each of them.

At least, create deadlines for things that are truly important to you so that you will make sure you make progress and get them done.

9. Productive people take breaks to recharge themselves, unproductive people are being busy all the time.

Productive people take breaks to recharge themselves, unproductive people are being busy all the time.

Do you know that taking short breaks throughout the day is important? One of the keys to maintaining your productivity is energy. And for everything we do, we use energy.

When you make a decision, when you plan, when you think about what to eat, when you use your brain, when you write articles, when you read, etc., you use energy. And if you continue to use your energy without recharging it, eventually, you will run out of it.

It works like a battery of your phone. After a rest, you feel more energetic, alert, and refresh. And this is why you want to make sure you take regular breaks throughout the day.

You don’t want to glue yourself in front of your computer and work for long hours. It will make you tired and exhausted. And when you don’t have energy left, it is difficult to focus. Not to mention that your mind will also distract you because it needs rest.

Productive people take regular breaks during the day, week, month, and also throughout the year.

Unproductive people don’t take breaks. They believe that the longer they work, the more they can produce, which is a myth.

Again, it is not about how much time you put in, it is about how effective and creative you are. A productive person uses 2 hours to produce quality work. An unproductive person uses 4 hours and produces mediocre work.

Maintain your energy so that you can have the productivity to create amazing work and produce better results.

What you can do to be productive:

Take regular breaks throughout the day. You can use the Pomodoro Technique to take quick and short breaks. And each day, spend time to recharge your body, mind, and soul.

And each year, take at least a few days or weeks off to enjoy your life. Work-life balance is important in maintaining your level of productivity.

10. Productive people are finisher because they complete what they started, unproductive people are good at starting but they don’t complete anything.

Productive people are finisher because they complete what they started, unproductive people are good at starting but they don't complete anything.

Yes, this is common sense and obvious. Productive people are great at finishing what they started, and unproductive people are good at starting but they don’t finish what they started.

How many projects or goals have you started but not seeing them to the finish?

If you are serious about being productive and you want to get more done, you must become a finisher and not a starter.

Starting a project is good, but you also have to finish it. If you don’t finish a project or goal and leave it hanging half-way, it will take up mental space in your head.

It consumes your energy and tires you down every time you think about a project or goal you have but is yet to complete.

Don’t start 10 blogs at the same time. Start with just one blog and work at it with commitment and determination. You want to build a blog until you make it to the completed product you decide to start another one.

Many people set a goal to lose weight or to save money, but they don’t follow through. They are good at starting but they don’t learn to master how to stick to their plan and goal.

Productive people are good at finishing what they have started. This is what you mission-oriented if you want to be productive too.

What you can do to be productive:

See your project to the finish. Complete what you started. You don’t want to leave things hanging half-way. Adopt the mindset of a finisher and complete all your tasks, projects, and goals.

Remember, the impact of a completed project is more significant than having 10 incomplete projects.

So, become a finisher and finish what you started.

Conclusion

Shifting from unproductive to being productive is easier said than done. But the 10 differences above are ideas where you can begin transforming your life.

Do you find these 10 ideas interesting and helpful?

I hope you have learned something insightful from this article. And if you have any other great ideas to share about productive and unproductive people, leave your comment below and tell me about it. Cheers.

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About Shawn Lim

I'm a blogger, writer, and also an internet entrepreneur. If you want to learn more about me, kindly go to the About page. By the way, have you downloaded your FREE copy of Active Goal Setting? Don't forget to do so. :)

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