118: Are You Really Being Productive? | Tanya Dalton Skip to the content
April 16, 2019   |   Episode #:

118: Are You Really Being Productive?

In This Episode:

We tend to think that the more items that we check off our to-do list, the more productive with are, so we feel obligated to try to do everything and to do it well in order to be “productive”. In today’s episode, we’re talking about shifting your mindset so you can embrace the idea of being enough, changing how we think about being busy & having an abundant mindset when you approach your time. It can sometimes feel like we’re a victim to time, but what we need to realize is that we actually have the power over time.

Show Transcript:

The Big Idea

Productivity and being busy aren’t the same thing

Questions I Answer

  • How can I be more productive?
  • How can I make more time in my day?
  • How can I figure out what I need to prioritize?
  • How can I be more in control of my time?

Actions to Take

  • I want you to try to block some time in your day where you stop trying to do several things at the same time and you spend that time focusing on one single task. Try it for 15 minutes every day for the next seven days.
  • When it comes to budgeting your time, it’s okay to say enough is enough. There’s no award for cramming more stuff into your day just to appear busy. We don’t have to prove our worth to others by showing our to-do list.

Key Topics in the Show

  • Rethinking busy and focusing on spending our time where it matters most

  • How you can start being mindful about gifting your time

  • Giving yourself permission to pursue what’s important

  • Start defining your own success right away

  • The big difference between being effective versus being efficient

Show Transcript

Welcome to Season 10 of Productivity Paradox with Tanya Dalton, a  podcast focused on helping you achieve your best life. Join Tanya this season  as she explores the concept of bending time so you could stay focused on  what matters most.  

 To get her free checklist, Five Minutes to Peak Productivity, simply go  to inkWELLpress.com/podcast.  

 And now, here’s your host, Tanya Dalton.  

Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host,  Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 118. It’s our very first episode of season 10.  And you might have noticed a new introduction this episode. That’s because  John, my husband, records a new introduction every single season so he kind  of spilled the beans a little bit when he told you that this season is called  Bending Time. And have I got some great things in store for you. 

I wanted to call this season Bending Time because I hear so many  people complaining that they don’t have enough time to do the things they  really want to do in life. Or they just wish they had more time to accomplish  their goals. I mean, don’t we all wish we had more time? But the fact is, we all  get the same amount each day, 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, which  is 168 hours we have every single week. It’s one of the very few things in life  that we all get equal share of. No one gets 28 hours in their day or 32. We all  get 24.  

 Unfortunately, I can’t give you more time to help you accomplish your  goals and your dreams. What I can give you is some advice and some insight  on how you can sort of bend time to make sure you are being productive and  you’re filling those hours with what’s most important to you. So you’re ready?  

 Looking ahead at this season of Bending Time, we’re going to cover  topics like making the most of your mornings, controlling your calendar,  spending less time on email, filling your day with substance and even as we  move into our summer months, showing you how you can work from just  about anywhere, how you can enjoy your vacation and come back refreshed  and even how to get the most out of a day off. Plus, I have some really  fabulous guests lined up that I can’t wait to introduce you to.  

 Before we get started with our very first episode of season 10, I want to  give a shout-out to today’s sponsor. Gusto is a helpful resource that not only  offers easy to run payroll services but also human resources support for small  businesses. Keep listening because later on in this episode, I’ll be sharing how  

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you can get three months free when you run first payroll, so stay tuned for  more details in just a little bit.  

 Now that I’ve given you a little sneak peek at what’s ahead this season,  let’s get started. Today, I want to dive into the question, are you really being  productive? Sometimes we get really caught up in the idea of what is  productive and what isn’t. We think that the more items that we check off our  to-do list, the more productive with are, so we feel obligated to try to do  everything and to do it well in order to be “productive”.  

 But it’s okay to not feel like you have to do it all. I want us to focus on  shifting your mindset so you can embrace the idea of being enough and trying  to have an abundant mindset instead of scarcity thinking when you approach  your time. I know that we all feel like that we’re a victim to time, like time  wields all the power. But what we need to realize is that we actually have the  power over time.  

 Time doesn’t really control us, even though sometimes it feels like it  does. The problem is that everyone thinks they need to be busy or to feel busy  in order to be perceived as productive. We all think that we need to be part of  the #allthethingsgroup where we say yes to everything and we boast about  the 14,000 things that we’re juggling in our lives. The truth is we don’t really  need to do more. We need to rethink busy and focus on spending our  precious time on what really matters most.  

 Time can’t control us if we know that we are the ones in control of what  we do with that time. It’s all about prioritizing. Prioritizing the people, the  tasks, the purposes in life that are the most important, more important than all  the useless things that we used to fill our day just to be able to brag about  how busy we are. Remember that once you spend your time, you can’t get it  back. There’s no refunds. There’s no returns, no exchanges. It’s gone.  

 And this is why you’ll often hear me say, “We need to be mindful about  how we’re gifting our time.” Time is a gift and when we give it away, it’s  important to realize where you’re gifting your time. Are you giving it in ways  that feel aligned with the life you want? Or do you give it away because you  feel obligated? You feel guilty like it’s an expectation to give your time even  when it’s not in line with what you truly want.  

 We say we can take a break whenever we’ve done enough or we can  celebrate our accomplishments when we’ve achieved enough, so we scramble  and we scurry and we rush around trying to do enough so that we can feel  good like we’ve done enough. But enough is like a leaky bucket that can never  be filled. We keep pouring our time, energy and focus into this bucket but we  never seem to be able to fill it as full as we’d like. We go through life trying to  do enough, trying to be enough when enough can never be reached.  

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 We’re striving for a finish line that seems to continually be moving  further and further and further away. So the question I have for you is this,  when is enough, enough? You need to give yourself permission to pursue what  matters. When we do great work and when I say great work, I mean work that  pushes us towards the life we really want instead of chasing down a thousand  small tasks in pursuit of busy. When we do that, we feel satisfied. We can feel  productive. That is enough.  

 Then here’s the trick to becoming productive. That definition of what is  and what isn’t enough, that has to come from you. You have the power to  define success and success truly is defined by your own happiness. So the  question is, are you happy? Because isn’t the productive life … Isn’t that what  we’re all after? We’re all after happiness. When we make space for the work  that is important to us, we are living a productive life.  

 Productivity isn’t checking a thousand things off our list. It might be  checking one or two. I know that might feel contrary to what you believe, but  let me ask you this, which is better, to make 100 small movements in a  hundred different directions? Or to make one or two large movements forward  in a direction you really want your life to go? I understand that we feel like we  can’t give our time to only do a few items on our list. That’s not productive, we  think, but truly it is especially when you think about our definition of  productivity. We often say productivity isn’t doing more, it’s doing what’s  most important even if what’s most important means working on only one or  two things rather than tackling a million unimportant tasks.  

 And I want to share a hard truth with you. When we fall into bed at night  feeling like we haven’t done enough, it’s not because we should have done  more. It’s because we didn’t gift ourselves the time to work on what is truly  important. We chased busy trying to check off as many items off our list as  possible instead of stopping and asking ourselves why. Why am I doing  everything on this list? Why are these things important?  

 We need to change our relationship with time. You do have plenty of  time to do enough. We just need to shift our mindset of what enough means  to us. When we say that we don’t have enough time, that’s a scarcity mindset.  It’s thinking of what we don’t have or in terms of the obstacles in front of us as  opposed to the opportunities. Abundance thinking, which is the opposite of  scarcity thinking, that allows us to focus on what we do have and we’re able to  see the possibilities rather than the limitations.  

 It’s more of a positive approach to things. When we have the time, we  just need to prioritize what we’re using our time for. That’s the question we  need to ask ourselves. How can I best use the time I have? How do I make sure  that the important work gets accomplished first? If we frame things in a more  positive way and we find gratitude for our accomplishments, hopefully, that  will help us realize that enough is, well actually, quite awesome.  

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 How do we make this happen? How do we reevaluate our time so we  can focus on what’s most important, so we can feel like we’ve done enough? I  want to talk to you about that in just one second. But first, let’s give a quick  word to today’s sponsor, Gusto. For all of you small business owners out there,  Gusto is a great tool that can help you with your payroll, benefits and your HR  needs. And Gusto makes it really easy to sign, store and even organize your  employee documents, all online so it’s available with just a few clicks.  

 Gusto also provides expert HR support that’s just a phone call away to  help you answer any questions you might have. I know because I use Gusto  myself for my own business. And what’s even nicer is they automatically file  and pay all state, local and federal payroll taxes. That is one less thing for us to  stress about. And right now, they’re offering my podcast listeners three  months free just by setting up and running your first payroll. Simply go to  Gusto.com/paradox to take advantage of this.  

 Let’s get back to that idea of how can we make sure that we create  space in our day so that we can feel like we’ve done enough. Well, I want to  talk to you for a moment about the idea of being effective versus being  efficient. Many people think that these are the same words, that they could be  used interchangeably. And a lot of people believe that really in order to be  productive, we need to be super efficient. We need to crank through our day  getting a thousand things done in the shortest amount of time.  

 So we run a daily marathon jamming things on our to-do list until it’s  overflowing and then we jump on the hamster wheel of doing tasks after tasks  and crossing off those tasks and then doing more tasks, and then crossing  those tasks off and on and on, and on until we fall into bed and we’re  exhausted. And we are unsure of what we really accomplished that day. Have  you ever had that where you fall into bed and you think, “Gosh, I was busy all  day long, what did I do?”  

 I don’t think there’s anything more defeating than that feeling of what  did I do all way but I’m worn out. Here’s the deal. There’s not really a trophy  for the busiest woman alive. We have to stop acting like there is. In fact, the  

honest truth is sometimes we spend time on things that maybe don’t even  deserve our attention at all. But we can’t help it because we’re in that race.  We’re in that hamster wheel. We’re doing, doing, doing. And we don’t take  time to ask that question we talked about earlier. Why? Why am I doing these  


 We’re so busy trying to do everything faster, stronger, smarter, better  and we don’t stop to ask ourselves, “What am I doing here? Why am I doing  this?” Let’s stop and think about it. We’re humans. We’re not robots. We’re not  necessarily meant to be efficient. Washing machines, hybrid cars, yes,  efficient. That’s why we buy them. They’re more efficient than if we do that  work ourselves. While hand-washing clothes over a rock in the stream was  

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noble for one time, boy, am I thankful that somebody invented the washing  machine.  

 Now, I know I said that we’re not built to be efficient but I do believe we  can be effective and here’s the difference. Efficient is about getting a lot of  things done in a short amount of time. That sounds like productivity, right?  But effective has to do with getting the important things done. Productivity is  never about quantity but always about quality.  

 An efficient person will hurry up and get that PowerPoint presentation  to their boss by noon, because that’s the deadline so they hurry through the  task just to get it checked off their list. They don’t necessarily think about  future consequences if they don’t do a great job with it. They just plug away  and try to get it done in less time. They’re churning and burning focusing on  time, and time alone because they’re trying to be efficient.  

 On the other hand, an effective person will be more conscientious about  the task. They’re goal-focused rather than deadline-focused and they might  even try to negotiate a little more time if they think it will result in a better  outcome at the end. They don’t just crank through the task to meet the  deadline, they focus on the quality of work or the output.  

 And what I really want for you to try to embrace is an effective mindset  where you’re focusing on quality over quantity, outcomes over outputs, details  over deadlines. Try to hone in on doing your best quality work instead of  churning out half-hearted outputs just to be busy. And really that takes a shift  in our mindset, of stop thinking and stressing so much about time and instead  focus on the quality of our work.  

 When we start to do that, that means we’re asking that question why  again and again. Why am I doing this? How can I do this better? How can I  make this the best item I’ve ever created? When we start asking ourselves  these questions, we slow ourselves down and we do produce quality. And  that’s really what’s most important. And speaking of efficient versus effective,  some people also believe you have to juggle multiple tasks at the same time  to be efficient and be productive. Hey, it uses less time, right?  

 Again, it’s that focus on time. It’s letting time control you instead of you  controlling your time. And I know we have talked about this in the past, so this  is not new territory for you. But there are so many studies out there that show  

that doing too many things at once isn’t really as productive as we believe it  is. It’s been proven time and time again that when we multitask, we’re actually  causing our brains to work harder because it’s shifting back and forth between  activities. In fact, our productivity actually decreases up to 40% when we try  to focus and too many tasks at the same time.  

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 And by the way, for those of you out there who are thinking, “Yeah, well,  that might be a case for other people but not for me. I’m really good at  multitasking,” I want you to know it’s true there are actually a handful of  people out there who have brains that do excel at doing two or more things at  once without making an abundance of mistakes. They’re called supertaskers.  But they make up less than 2% of the population, so while we may think we’re  good at multitasking, realistically, we’re probably more likely part of that 98%  who are actually hindering our productivity by trying to do too much at once.  

 Multitasking is the same as switch tasking, which basically means you’re  trying to do several tasks one after another. We’ve all done it. We’re trying to  write an email while talking to someone on the phone, but have you ever  noticed how hard that really is? Our brains are not made to do this. They’re  not designed to do two things at once. You’ve probably even caught yourself  when the person on the other end of the phone says, “Did you hear what I just  said?” And you’re like, “Uh, yeah, sorry. I was trying to write an email,” because  truthfully, we can’t answer them. Our brain had to tune into our email and tune  out the chatter on the phone line because we’re multitasking. And we find  ourselves saying, “Oh, gosh. I’m so sorry. Could you repeat that last part?” It’s  not your fault. Our brains just are not cut out for multitasking.  

 But since I’ve been asking you to question the things that you’re doing, I  want you to ask yourself this question. When you’re on the phone with  someone and you’re writing an email at the same time, what message are you  sending to that person on the other end of the line? What are you conveying  to them? Are you telling them that they are important? Or when you say, “Oh,  I’m so sorry. Can you repeat that last line?” are you saying to them, “I’m sorry  but this email is much more important than you”? Let’s make sure that we  stop and ask ourselves the questions that really help us focus on our quality of  life including our relationships with others over the quantity of how much we  are doing.  

 And here’s what I want you to do. I want you to do me a favor. Just for  the next week, I want you to try to block some time in your day where you  stop trying to do several things at the same time and you spend that time  focusing on one single task. Try it for 15 minutes every day for the next seven  days. It’s not too much, I don’t think, but really I think you’ll find that when  you’re not juggling three different things at the same time when your brain is  no longer ping-ponging back and forth between all these different tasks, you’ll  get that one task you’re focused on, you’ll get that done faster and better than  when you had all those other things pulling at you. Doing important work and  doing it well, that’s being truly productive.  

 And that’s what I want you to ask yourself, are you really productive? I  want to encourage you to stop chasing busy. Stop feeling like you have to do a  thousand things in order to feel like you’ve done enough. When it comes to  budgeting your time, it’s okay to say enough is enough. There’s no award for  

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cramming more stuff into your day just to appear busy. We don’t have to  prove our worth to others by showing our to-do list.  

 And at the end of the day, it’s really all about prioritizing the things in  your life that you find important so you can spend your valuable precious time  on the things that are meaningful for you, not the things that are not worthy  of your time and your energy. Transform your relationship with time. Stop  feeling like the clock owns you because you determine how you spend the  time that you have.  

 We’re going to continue talking about this idea of bending time and  shifting our relationship with time throughout this entire season. And I’m really  excited for the next 12 episodes. We’re going to continue to explore this idea  together. Next week, I have an episode headed your way all about overwork. Is  working long hours really working out for you? That’s the question we’re  going to be asking next week.  

 And in the meantime, I’d love to connect with you in my Facebook  group. Simply go to inkWELLpress.com/group to request an invitation to join.  I’d love to see you in there. All right, until next time, have a beautiful and  productive week.  

Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. To get free access to Tanya’s  valuable checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to  inkWELLpress.com/podcast.