Busy does not automatically equal productive, no matter how much we want it to sometimes. Tim Ferriss, author of 3 New York Times bestsellers, The 4 Hour Workweek, The 4 Hour Body and The 4 Hour Chef, knows this as well as anyone.

Afterall, if someone writes a book called “The 4 Hour Workweek,” it would seem almost hypocritical for that same person to be busy all the time, wouldn't it?

This is why Tim Ferriss always says, “Focus on being productive instead of busy.” But, what does he mean by that and how can it be applied to our daily lives?



What This Quote Really Means

Tim Ferriss is trying to tell us that we have no excuse for being “busy” all the time. He is saying you can look or feel busy, without actually accomplishing much.

In a way it is like the old quality vs quantity discussion. Being productive means you are getting quality work done that helps you get closer to reaching goals or finishing important tasks.

Being busy just means you are not allowing yourself much free time because you are constantly trying to work on too many things whether they are productive or not.

Does it sound better to work less hours every week and get more accomplished or work more hours and get less accomplished? The answer is easy is for most of us.


Related: There Is No Such Thing As Failure. There Are Only Results


Some Strategies For Applying This

One thing Tim Ferriss is known for is actually giving us action strategies we can to apply the theories he talks about to our daily lives.

When it comes to being productive instead of busy, here are a few tactics he recommends you use to work less and get more done:

  • Use the 80/20 rule – This rule states that you get 80% of your results from 20% of the tasks you do. Go back, look at the numbers and find out what tasks get the most out of your time and focus on those.
  • Automate whatever you can – Use software, freelancers, or even virtual assistants to get your more minor, tedious tasks done that you don't need to do yourself.
  • Get your most important task done before 11 AM – It is easy to use lunch breaks and other things as excuses, so write down the one most important thing you could do today and get it done first thing in the morning before 11 AM.

To further elaborate on the last strategy, Tim Ferriss recommends you write down 3-5 things that are you know you need to get done. Then, using process of elimination, find the most important task out of the group.

How do you pick what is most important? When looking at each task, ask yourself if doing the task would make you feel satisfied with your day's work.

Ask yourself if getting that one task done would make the other tasks seem less important and easier to accomplish later on. The task that fits both of those criteria is the one you should focus on.

Don't try to be a machine because you're not. We are human. Things come up, we get distracted, we get tired and there is only so much we can accomplish in one day before we run out of batteries.



Focus on being productive instead of busy,” is just a way for Ferriss to tell us that it is okay if we don't get everything done in one day. It isn't better to be busy all the time, because you don't necessarily get more done.

In fact he says that if you struggle with trying to stay busy all the time instead of just productive, you should remind yourself these two things:

  1. Being busy is a form of lazy thinking and thoughtless, meaningless action
  2. Being busy is a way of keeping yourself in your comfort zone by doing a lot of small, unproductive tasks that you're used to, instead of conquering the few big, uncomfortable tasks that you should.

You're human. We all are. Like a vehicle with a small tank of gas, or a smartphone with only so much battery power, we only have so much production juice in us for the day. Make it count.

What are some of your favorite ways to stay productive?


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