The Number One Reason You’re Not As Productive As You Want To Be

By David

February 5, 2014   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Lost time is never found again.
-Ben Franklin

A teacher walks to the front of his class one day and sets a large bucket and a box of rocks on the table.

The teacher silently transfers the rocks from the box to the bucket while his curious students look on. When the bucket is filled to the brim with rocks, he asks the class, “Is the bucket full?”

They respond with a collective “Yes.”

The teacher then reaches under his desk and pulls out a bowl of marbles and proceeds to pour the marbles into the bucket until they reach the top.

The teacher asks again, “Is the bucket full?”

The students are a little more apprehensive this time and hesitate to answer. A few brave souls speak up and say, “No.”

“Good,” the teacher says. He reaches under his desk yet again and pulls out a bag of sand and fills the bucket, followed by a pitcher of water which he dumps over the sand, marbles, and rocks.

The teacher then motions to the bucket and addresses the class once again: “What’s the point of all this?”

The Lesson Here

The “rocks” are metaphors for the most important things in your life: family, health, faith, love, education, life goals, etc.

If you don’t put the rocks in your bucket first, you won’t fit them all in. In other words, if you focus too much on the little things (the marbles, sand, and water), you’ll lose sight of what matters most in your life.

We waste so much time on things that don’t matter.

The average American will spend 137,904 hours  of their life watching television.

That’s 5,746 days.

15 years.

If you’d rather spend your time doing something that offers a return—whether financial or emotional—on your investment, here’s what to do instead.

How to Make Better Use of Your Time: What Highly Productive People Say

Okay, you know you should make your time here count. But how do you actually do it?

The answer: create habits.

And how do you create habits?

Greg Ciotti, who runs the behavior change blog Sparring mind, recommends the following:

“When it comes to habit formation, the greatest gains are made with early repetitions.”

Any time you want to create or change a habit, identify the habit you want to create or change, start small, and do it every day.

For example, I decided late last year I was going to write every day. I didn’t commit to any specific goal. My “goal” was to create the habit of writing.

So every day after I ate dinner, I would sit down and write. I started small—only 5 minutes some days. But after a month or so, the habit of writing was ingrained. And I noticed that I spent less and less time on my bad habits (like watching TV) without even thinking about it.

Alexa Von Tobel, CEO of Learnvest, said in a recent Fast Company interview:

“My ultimate goal is to create operating systems that allow me to think as little as possible about the silly decisions you make all day long–like what to eat or where we should meet–so I can focus on making real decisions. Because mental energy is a finite quantity.”

In other words, you want to create productive habits that happen automatically.

Author Nir Eyal recommends these three steps to form productive habits:

1.    Ditch the goals. Goals can be useful—just not when you’re trying to be more productive and change bad habits into good ones. Focus instead on the journey and cultivate “small wins.”
2.    Identify your MEA (Minimum Enjoyable Action). Start with a tiny action that’s easy for you to repeat every day. Stanford psychologist BJ Fogg calls these “tiny habits.”
3.    Track your progress. Write down the action steps you take each day.

Sounds easy, right?

It is.

Most people don’t do it though. Instead they dream up big goals and focus on short-term tips and tactics rather than trying to change the underlying behaviors that are causing the problem in the first place.

This, my friends, is the “secret” of highly productive people: they create habits for themselves to automate the things they know they should be doing more of.

Here’s how you can start doing the same …

Answer These 4 Important Questions

1.    What do you want out of life?
2.    What makes you happy?
3.    What do you love to do?
4.    Who do you love to spend time with?

Those are the things you should be focusing your time and energy on.

Not who “liked” your Facebook update. Not The Real Housewives. Not endless anger, frustration, worry, anxiety, and bad stuff that happened in the past.

None of those things matter.

Mindless entertainment is fine in small doses. But have the courage to admit when it’s holding you back from becoming the person you want to become.

Time is more valuable than any amount of money. Have you ever lost someone you love to cancer or another life-changing disease? If so, did that person worry about making as much money as possible … or spending every waking moment experiencing life to its fullest and enjoying time with those they loved most?

Make Your Time Here Count

If you’re not where you want to be in life, take an honest look at how you spend your time. Map out everything you did today. We all waste precious time on things that serve no purpose.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Appreciate every moment you have here on this beautiful planet.

Stop wasting time.

Start cultivating better habits.

And I guarantee you’ll change your life for the better.

Written on 2/5/2014 by Scott Christ. Scott Christ will help you lose weight and get in the best shape of your life on his website, The Healthy Eating Guide. Sign up for free blog updates to get research-backed methods to eat healthier, be happier, and create a more balanced, fulfilling life.

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