If you are wondering how to be more productive, you've got to get one thing straight first: The only thing (except for God and chance maybe) that is going to make any difference at all in your life is what you do! So, what are you and I going to do with those 8,760 hours you've got to work with in the next year?
Well, it's not going to blow your pants down if I remind you that what you do with a lot of those hours will be outside your immediate power. For instance, you've almost got to spend approximately 2,920 of those hours sleeping. True, you could sleep less than 8 hours a day, but that will likely be counter-productive to you. The most recent research indicates the vast majority of Americans need more than eight hours of sleep per day and yet most of us get less. Which, of course, makes us a nation of people who are sleep deprived and sleep deprived people suffer from fuzzy logic, poor critical thinking skills, make bad decisions, and are more at risk for all types of bad luck and health problems.
Whatever you do, most of us shouldn't try to become more productive by getting less sleep. That tactic will backfire on us. Unless you have a clear idea in your mind that you are one of those rare, rare individuals who is wired differently to require less sleep and even thrive on less. Did you know that domestic house cats sleep an average of 16 hours per day and lions in the wild sleep an average of 20! Be honest, and think about this. Search your memory for the animal in your estimation that is always happiest. That just seems to have an inner reserve of contentment that just oozes out of it. That literally purrs with pleased satisfaction (whenever awake). I think the happiest mammals on earth are domestic house cats. You should see my girlfriend Heather's cats (maybe I can talk her into giving me a picture to post for you!) Jack and Tai. They are so darn content--it's irritating. But then again, I'm thinking it may be lions. But what do I know about lions, I've never met one. Note to self: sign up for safari soon.
Tick, tock. OK, I don't want to give you the thought that I'm wasting your time, which is growing more valuable to you by the minute, right? But I love sleep, don't you? So sleep more. Just remember to get your 8 hours and remember above all that whether you are the lion or the gazelle, if you want to survive when the sun comes up, you better be running!
So, moving on… after chopping off the time we need to spend sleeping, we're down to 5,840 hours to work with in the coming year. Assuming you're playing with a full deck upstairs and you're not yet rich or retired, you want to make some money in the next year, right? That means you've got to spend a significant amount of time earning enough just for the needs of yourself and your family. Not to mention 'getting ahead'; which if you're reading this article, I'll imagine is a huge priority for you.
To do this, let's say you still work the proverbial 40 hours per week. You know, that old grind your 9 to 5 if you've got one. Actually let's take it off of you. I don't want to get this too personal, as that can sometimes hurt folks. Let's say instead of "you", we'll call a generic person who could be reading this "Johnny Wealth Builder" (kind of like John Doe… feels better when it's anonymous, eh?). Also, "Johnny Wealth Builder" has got to get ready for work, get to work and get home from work. Some of you have a long commute, some are lucky enough to work at home, but I'm going to decide how much "Johnny Wealth Builder" spends on this arbitrarily, randomly, and some may even get out the Webster's and smack me with "capriciously", but, hey, it's my show!
Let's say our friend Johnny needs an average of 10 hours per week to get ready, and get to and from work. Yes, that is a random number. But this isn't science class, folks! Since you may be miffed, here's a bone for our 'proverbial case study'. Let's give "Johnny Wealth Builder" a two week yearly vacation and a regular job, which means "Johnny Wealth Builder" is going to use up 2,500 of his hours (50 hours per week times 50 weeks per year) on work-related activities and vacation (which everyone needs and deserves from time to time!).
We are now down to 3,340 hours we've got left in the coming year that "Johnny Wealth Builder" can choose where to spend or invest that time to better his life. Tick, tock. Ah, but we aren't at the end of our subtractions yet. No, sir. But rather than beat the dead horse and continue to pound the nail and belabor the point, let's make one more big deduction for what I'll call "Necessities of Life." This might include getting your car repaired, playing with your kids, giving time and encouragement to your spouse and friends, spending time with family, dealing with the mail, shopping for groceries, , shaving, taking some "down time" to let yourself recharge, and so on.