close-up-composition-data-669986I know people who are very busy. They are always on the go, running from one place to another. But if you asked them at the end of the week what they have accomplished, they would give you a blank look.

These folks are not productive.  They simply are maintaining the status quo. Admittedly, at some points in life, maintaining the status quo is an accomplishment. When my husband was in the hospital for over a month, and I was holding down a fulltime job in addition to daily hospital visits, maintaining the status quo was no small feat. But those are unusual circumstances.

Most of the time, our lives aren’t that dramatic. Most of the time, life putters along with only little bumps in the road. And it is during these relatively quiet times that we have the opportunity to be productive. We have the opportunity to pursue our big goals and do meaningful things with our lives.

The problem is that it is easy to live in a reactive manner. It is easy to spend the day simply putting out one fire after another.  Then, in between fires, we might take a mental break to surf the Internet or scroll through our Facebook feed. That approach doesn’t lead to real productivity, and it doesn’t make for much of a life.

Below are some ways that you can get off the “busy train” and start living a productive, more meaningful life.

Be Intentional: It is important to start the day with a firm idea of what you want to accomplish. And then, barring an emergency, you need to do just that. When we live intentionally, we don’t just go with the flow. We make our goals a priority.

The problem is that making our goals a priority can feel selfish. Decent people feel a responsibility to serve others. And that is a good thing! But the responsibility to serve others has to be tempered with a healthy respect for our own needs and desires. As with everything in life, it is all about balance.

So, every day, you should be setting aside time to accomplish those things that matter to you. For example, let’s say that you have a goal to shed some extra weight so that you can stop having joint pain. That is an important goal! Without guilt, you should plan on going to the gym or taking a long walk each day. That should be part of your schedule, like any other appointment.

If you don’t treat your personal or professional goals like they are important and worthy of your time, then they won’t get accomplished. Everything else will take priority, and pretty soon you’ll be helping everyone else accomplish their goals. And then you’ll wonder why everyone else seems so “productive,” and you can’t achieve even your simplest aspirations. It is because you are being productive for everyone else.

Being intentional about your life requires you to make your goals part of your daily schedule. So, if you are trying to lose weight, exercise shouldn’t be something that you do if you happen to have some extra time. No one has extra time! Exercise has to be scheduled in order for it to actually happen. The same holds true if you are trying to write a book, learn a second language or start an online business. When you intend to do something each day to accomplish your goals, those goals will happen.

Don’t Let Other People Distract You: There are certain people who like to hijack the time of others. They do it by being needy or difficult or sad. And then they look to others – you! – to fix the problems that they should be fixing themselves. And they have little regard for how much of your time they waste.

These people come in all forms.   They can be your spouse, your kids, your parents, or your friends. They simply have one thing in common: They are narcissists. They truly think that your time is better spent trying to figure out how to make them happy, rather than spending your time making yourself happy.

Let me be clear: The most important thing that you do each day is to take care of yourself. Every day, you need to spend time taking care of your health, your job, your home and yes, your goals! After all of that is taken care of, only then should you take the time to meet the needs of others. And you should be meeting those needs only if they are real needs, and if they are ones that you should be meeting.

For instance, it is my business to be kind and loving to my husband. It is not in my job description to ensure that he is happy, to do activities with him that simply don’t interest me, or to deal with him if he is in a bad mood. Fortunately, my husband is an extremely sensible person, and he would never expect me to do any of those things.

Unfortunately, there are lots of people in this world who are not sensible.  They want to suck up your time with their problems and needs. Years of your life can be robbed by these people if you don’t put your foot down and treat your time as inviolable.

Have a Long-Term View: It is easy to live life on auto-pilot. If you haven’t figured out what you want to accomplish with your life, you can spend the bulk of it going to work, doing dishes and laundry, and watching television every evening. Then 70 or 80 years later, life will have passed you by, and you’ll wonder where the years went.

There is value in figuring out what you want to have accomplished by the end of your life. Do you want to have built a thriving business which you can pass down to your children? Do you want to have rescued abused animals? Do you want to have written a best-selling novel or funded an orphanage? The options are endless. The only question is, “What truly great thing do I want to accomplish with my life?”

None of us knows how long or short our lives will be. We don’t know which day will be our last. So, today is the day to start taking steps toward accomplishing your life goals. Make them a priority. Don’t let other people hijack your one and only life with their plans. Make your own plans, and think long and hard about what kind of legacy you want to leave behind after you die.

When you view your life as a whole, suddenly it should become very clear how to spend each individual day. Part of each day should be spent pursuing you Long-Term Life Goal. Otherwise, you will spend your days being busy, but not productive.

This week, consider how your typical day goes. Are you productive? Or are you simply keeping busy? Are you treating your days on this earth as sacred and accomplishing those goals that matter most to you? Or are you simply doing mundane tasks and meeting the demands of others?

You have something truly special to offer the world. Don’t get caught up in being merely busy. You deserve to have productive days spent in pursuit of your most important goals.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)


Books: “The Secrets to Success for the Working Mother” by Meerabelle Dey ( )

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