Wasting time on a tablet

How to Be More Productive than 95% of Humanity

After reading some of Rob Parnell’s work, one notion stuck with me that has helped make much better use of my time , especially at home. The idea is that at any given moment you're either being a producer or consumer. You should evaluate your current actions every second and strive to be a producer all the time.

Consumers

Eating junk food, scrolling through social media, and watching funny videos on YouTube are examples of activities where you are acting as a “Consumer” of that content. They are instances where you are not adding value to the world or to yourself and you are not making any progress toward your goals. They are activities that Stephen Covey would call non-urgent, non-important activities. You don’t want to be a mindless “Consumer”. When you’re being a “Consumer” you’re wasting time. Successful people, people that get things done are instead “Producers”.

Producers

When you’re being a “Producer” you are creating something. You could be creating a song, a blog post, a computer program, a clean house, a better relationship, or a healthier self. The point is, you are creating something. Take any successful person and you’ll quickly see that what made them successful was being “Producers”.

The Takeaway

Each second, all day, continually ask yourself,

“At this moment, am I being a ‘Consumer’ or a ‘Producer’?”

This self-regulation will lead you to being a “Producer” more often than not. You’ll then become more productive than the fast majority of humanity who squander untold hours of life every day. Always strive to increase your relative time producing versus your relative time consuming.

Personal Note For Fellow Parents

I try to keep this in mind during my children’s idle time. They, like so many other children, love to play on tablets. Left unattended, they could spend their whole day on screen time — being “Consumers”. I make a point to tell them that if they want to win in this world, they have to practice being “Producers”. Even those YouTubers they love so much are producing something. I tell my son regularly: “I don’t care what you’re creating I just want to see you create something. You can make something out of Legos, Play Doh, you can create a comic book, or even make animations on the computer. Just create something.” If nothing else, they can create a clean bedroom. The fact that all their heroes, even the school dropouts, are “Producers” themselves effectively drives the point home in the kids’ minds.

Caveat: Priorities

Being a “Producer” rather than a “Consumer” is a great first step to doing more with your life than most people. However, the advice above makes no mention of what to produce or how to prioritize your actions. That is of course up to you, but since we all have finite time to live, I recommend you determine a personal goal setting or OKR strategy to help you focus your actions on accomplishing overarching personal and professional missions.

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Zachary Keeton

Zachary Keeton

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A 15th-year Web Dev/Engineering Manager. Formerly building products and leading teams at Plus One Robotics in San Antonio, Texas, USA