Have a Productive Day

You can move from general productivity to Excelerated Productivity™. Excelerated Productivity™ means you’ve done the right things right, and that you are being efficient and effective. You know where you want to go and you know how you’ll get there.

Title Photo by Thirdman

A Productive Day?

On a recent work day, I rose early, meditated, then started my morning routine. Well, before I actually started it, I made coffee, emptied the dishwasher, and carried some stuff to the recycle bin. But then, I started my morning routine.

Part of that routine is planning the tasks I want to do for the day. I call it my “Focus List” and I write down the three most important things I want to complete for the day. The first is usually working on a newsletter article, and then a step toward my BIG goal, and the last is typically working on an Excelerated Life™ resource. And that was true for this particular day.

After breakfast, I started work on my first item, the newsletter article. Except, I try to make a daily Facebook post, so I did that first, THEN sat down to work on the article. I set the timer on my watch for 90 minutes, a recommended time block. I opened the article I was working on but then remembered a phone call I needed to make. Fifteen minutes later, I hung up the phone and went back to the article. I did some deep work and then the timer went off. Ninety minutes already?

Now it was time for my morning walk, which takes 15 – 20 minutes and is a good recovery activity. After the walk, I came back to my office but I decided I’d written enough for today. So I started on my second task, working on my BIG goal – in this case, revising the format for the paperback version of The Excelerated Life™ Source Book. Oh, but wait. I was expecting an important e-mail so I decided I’d better check that first. Thirty minutes later, I’d cleaned out a lot of e-mails but suddenly remembered that wasn’t what I had sat down to do. I went back to the paperback format but it was getting close to lunchtime, so I took a break.

After lunch, I did the dishes and checked the time. I wanted to work out at the Y, so I got ready and headed over. An hour and a half later, I was back home. I decided to read for a while, then it was time to practice guitar. After that, I read the paper until it was time for dinner.

After dinner, I sat down to finish my evening routine, where I evaluate and score my day and write a journal entry. Somehow, my day hadn’t developed the way I’d planned that morning. It seems I was busy and actually did a lot of things, but hardly any of them were on my “focus list”. This was definitely not a masterpiece day for me!

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How To Have a Productive Day

I wonder if you’ve had a similar experience. You start out with a plan to focus on the most important tasks for the day. But somewhere along the way, you lose that focus. You realize at the end of the day, you’ve done a lot, but very little that helps you reach your current BIG goal. Or that really matter at all.

You and I know what it takes to be efficient, to successfully complete tasks. Our plan looks something like this.

  • Write it down. Start with a list of everything you want to accomplish.
  • Prioritize. Number the list in order of importance.
  • Eliminate distractions. Close e-mail, shut off text and e-mail notifications, silence your phone.
  • Keep at it till you finish (or you’ve gone as far as you can). Get in the habit of finishing what you start or at least as much as you can do on your own.
  • Tune in to the rhythm of work/recover/work/recover. Ninety minutes is about the limit of how long you can seriously focus on a task or job; then you need a break. So work for ninety minutes and recover for fifteen or twenty minutes. Or work sixty minutes, or 30 minutes, then recover for five or ten.

But even as you progress toward being more productive, keep in mind you already have more to do than you can get done. In fact, the more you do, the more there is to do. Oliver Burkeman calls this the “efficiency trap”. [Burkeman] Becoming more efficient typically results in more demands on your time. Remember the adage of Parkinson’s Law? “Work expands to fill the time allotted to it.” Similarly, Burkeman tells us, the more you do, the more things will be given to you to do.

That’s why it’s important to concentrate your best efforts on doing the tasks that are most important to you. You may be productive, but if you’re not effective, you could complete many tasks, and still be no closer to your BIG goal.

How To Have Excelerated Productivity™

So how can we move from general productivity to Excelerated Productivity™, being efficient and effective and doing the right things right? Here are how some of the Excelerated Life™ practices come into play and work together.

Start with your BIG goal, the one you’ve developed using Excelerated Goal Setting. This gives you your ultimate target, your final destination.

Use Excelerated Focus to align your actions and your BIG goal. This is your road map to help you reach your destination, your BIG goal.

Now use the productivity tips we discussed earlier to improve your efficiency. Tap into Excelerated Self-discipline and Excelerated Movement to keep yourself on task.

Of course, underlying your ability to follow these Excelerating practices is the requirement of a solid foundation and the proper maintenance to keep your most valuable asset running in top form. This requires ongoing effort in the areas of self-care, positivity, getting on solid ground, and life management. You know, embracing your Excelerated Life™!

Now you are being efficient AND effective, in other words, you’re developing Excelerated Productivity™

a productive day
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Dealing With the Other Stuff

However, without question, you’ve still got to wash the dishes, do the laundry, run errands, mow the grass, and do all the other chores that are just part of living. These are things you can’t ignore, at least not for long. You just don’t want to let them creep in and take up all your time; you still want to focus on your most important tasks. Use these suggestions to help you deal with the day-to-day activities of normal life.

  • Bundle or combine tasks. If you have several jobs that are similar, or you need to do a specific task a number of times, it is more efficient to do them at the same time. Like anything you practice, the more you do it, the better and quicker you become.
  • Take care of the small things before they become big things. “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” ~ John Wooden Changing your car’s oil takes a certain amount of time. But if you don’t change it, you risk damaging the engine. Now we’re talking days instead of an hour or two.
  • Use routines. Again, practice helps you get quicker and more efficient. Plus, when you have a system for doing a particular task, you don’t have to think about it as much, freeing up mental energy.
  • Delegate. Just because something has to be done, you don’t have to do it. At work, train a staff member to do the things you routinely do but that aren’t the best use of your time. At home, consider hiring out some of the bigger chores rather than doing them yourself.

First Steps

“Do first things first,” said Peter Drucker, “second things, not at all.” What are your First Things? Here are some initial steps to identify them and to help move you toward Excelerated Productivity™. These help you have a productive day more often than not.

  • Start with your BIG goal.
  • Develop a plan of steps to achieve your BIG goal.
  • Focus on the actions you’ll need to do to take the steps.
  • Set up routines to help you do the steps.

Excelerated Productivity™ for an Excelerated Life™

The Excelerated Life™ is an integrated set of principles and practices; they work together to help you flourish, find meaning and purpose, and to be of Service. Excelerated Productivity™ is a means to an end, not an end unto itself.

You may have a productive day but if that simply means you completed a number of random tasks, you’ve really made no progress. Excelerated Productivity™ means you’ve done the right things right , that you are being efficient and effective. You know where you want to go and you know how you’ll get there. And that’s how you embrace your Excelerated Life™!

How have you been both effective AND efficient in the past?
How could you expand on that now?
Share your ideas by leaving a post below.

Excelerated Productivity™ — improving efficiency and effectiveness — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.

Read more about the Excelerated Life.


Burkeman, Oliver. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management For Mortals. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021.

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