Go to Top

A Simple Strategy to Make Every Day Productive

Busy_400px-dpcIf you’re like me, you have some days when you’re the queen of your life and get forty-three things done before lunch … and others where changing out of your pajamas is the day’s biggest achievement.

This is one of the many reasons I love listening to business-oriented podcasts. You can pick up gems of wisdom and inspiration — and yea, even practical tips for productivity — from successful business people, even if they operate in a totally different realm than you.

Recently I came across a shiny, new-to-me tidbit while listening to business guru Marie Forleo speak about gaining clarity in this interview with Amy Porterfield.

Marie said something in passing that I’d never heard before and fortunately, Amy asked her to elaborate. Marie’s explanation was the wellspring for this post.

Here’s Marie’s tip: “Always produce before you consume.”

That’s her strategy for making sure she’s productive every day. She produces content before consuming any, meaning she’ll write a newsletter or a video script before listening to a podcast or checking email or going on Facebook or doing any other time-suck-y thing that falls under the heading of passively consuming content.

Always produce before you consume can be rephrased as “activity before idleness” and can be helpful in all sorts of arenas, not just online marketing.

If you’re a homemaker, for example, producing before you consume means starting the day by doing a task instead of reading the paper. The task is the “producing,” while reading the paper is just a combination of consuming information and idle entertainment.

Thus, the task needs to get done first. Reading the paper comes later.

If you follow the strategy of actively producing something before you consume anything every single day, you WILL get things done.

Heck, you might even run out of things to do.

It’s a simple idea, but I’ll be the first to admit it can be hard to implement. And like most truly useful advice, its value lies in implementation. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t work.

Here’s where I personally struggle with this excellent strategy. One thing I enjoy is listening to the news on NPR first thing in the morning, when I’m still lying in bed. It’s a habit, and not a great one for productivity; I’m starting my day consuming instead of producing.

By the time I’m all news’d up and finally get out of bed, I’m in a consuming, rather than producing, frame of mind.

I keep hearing everywhere that how you start your day is crucial to long-term success, so I’m pledging right now to listen to the news ONLY after I’ve done something I want to get done each day.

It might be doing the dishes that were left over from the night before.

It could be writing a blog post like this one.

It may be making a phone call, working out, cooking up a batch of chili, etc., etc., etc.

What do you want (or need) to “produce” ASAP?

Write it down before you go to bed, then start it tomorrow before you read, scan, check or listen to anything. I’ll do the same, and we’ll both get stuff done tomorrow.

Next stop: Making a habit of doing that every single day.

A big thanks to Marie Forleo for this gold nugget, and to Amy Porterfield for her wonderful podcast.

About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting and other resources, and offers assertiveness training and executive coaching for organizations. The author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them" and the "Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children," Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships. Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called "Constructive Wallowing."

5 Responses to "A Simple Strategy to Make Every Day Productive"

  • Alison
    March 26, 2016 - 12:05 pm Reply

    I just started a new position, and I’m already finding it’s easy to get “caught up in the weeds”, feeling like I need to react immediately to emails, etc. instead of planning what needs to be accomplished. This sounds like a mantra I can repeat to help me have more productive days!

    • Tina Gilbertson
      March 26, 2016 - 3:20 pm Reply

      I’m glad this post arrived at the right time for you, Alison. Thanks for your comment, and best of luck in your new position.

  • Susan Thayer
    March 26, 2016 - 3:11 pm Reply

    Thanks Tina. Good advice. Listening to NPR would be on my ‘produce’ side, I’m afraid. Gotta start somewhere. It’s all good!

    • Tina Gilbertson
      March 26, 2016 - 3:21 pm Reply

      Always good to hear from a fellow NPR listener, Susan. Thanks for dropping by!

  • Snowburst
    March 27, 2016 - 5:12 pm Reply

    Ha, ha, ha… I already do this every day, I organize what I’m going to aim for getting done. Years and years ago it was suggested to me to start making a list of things I don’t want to forget. Then, I had to write separate lists on different pieces of paper ~ things to do, things to get, and an “online” page list. Then, I had to prioritize what I was going to do off of each list. What’s funny now is, I wake up already thinking about my organized, prioritized day. All I need now is the energy to get those things done!!

Leave a Reply