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How To Be Productive Every Minute of Every Day

Is it possible to be productive every minute of every hour of every day?

We like to think so. But as you may have guessed, it’s a bit of a trick question. There are no ground-level tips, tactics or techniques for being productive absolutely all the time – we all have limited energy, resources, willpower… and time.

There’s an idea that the greatest problems at our current level understanding have to be solved at a higher level of understanding – a higher logical level if you will. And the solution to being productive and simply on all the time is one of those problems. It requires us to think at a higher level and outside-the-box.

So how exactly does this work? Simply put, if you want to be productive every minute of every hour of every day… you need to align what it is you do with your higher purpose in life.

The idea for this article came out of a series of discussions we’ve had with friends and mentors over the past year. We were debating how to reconcile what it is we all do on a daily basis with what it is we want to do with our lives. Some people may argue that you are what you do – we don’t agree. What you do (your behaviors and actions) don’t define you, but they definitely do contribute a healthy chunk towards who you are.

Let’s take this to the next level.

Quick Summary

  • Focus and Purpose. To understand how to align what you do with your purpose, you first need to make a distinction between them.
  • Supporting Alignment. Here’s how to turn the rest of your life towards your higher purpose.
  • Alignment. Why alignment matters and how to do it with what you already know.

Focus and Purpose

Focus and Purpose

The working title of this article was “primary focus vs purpose in life”, but Thanh decided it wasn’t sexy enough.

Your Primary Focus is what you work on day-to-day – your job, your main hobbies, and the main areas that you place your attention on. Your Purpose in Life is the mission, vision and endgame for what you want to do in your life. If you haven’t clarified your purpose yet, check out out article on 5 questions to help you determine your purpose.

It is important to note that our Primary Focus is usually not one we choose. Most of use work in a trade of profession that we were trained in, and then decided to start working in. For most people, their primary focus is determined by the work that they do. While we may not have a choice regarding our primary focus (more on this in a bit), we do have a choice about what we do with the rest of our time – our relationships, our hobbies and the media that we consume.

In contrast, our purpose(s) in life are something that we get to pick, and that we can readily change at any time. There are no limits (or standards) here. For some people this is simply living the good life. For others, it may be changing the world.

As an example, a doctor’s primary focus may be the practice of medicine, but her purpose may be to alleviate human suffering in the world.

Here at Asian Efficiency we want to make the world a more efficient place, that is our purpose. We do this by producing awesome content in both free and premium forms.

Supporting Alignment

Supporting Alignment

We’ve already hinted that alignment between focus and purpose is important. We’ll talk about that in the next section. But it’s important first to discuss Supporting Alignment – this is the everything-else that you do to support your purpose. It includes:

  • What books you read.
  • What media you consume.
  • What hobbies you undertake.
  • Where you place your spare attention when you have it.

If you have a strong purpose and mission, you will easily find yourself spending every spare minute and second focussed on moving towards your purpose. You’ll selectively read, absorb and utilize information that helps you towards that purpose.

As a personal example, I read and listen to a lot of books about negotiation, law and history – this helps me with the business side of Asian Efficiency. I also read a steady stream of quality fiction – this helps me write better and more communicative content for Asian Efficiency.

Alignment… and Applying Asian Efficiency Principles

Alignment and Applying Asian Efficiency

We’ve talked about alignment and now it’s time to define exactly what it is and how it works.

Very simply, you want to put your primary focus directly in alignment with your purpose in life. This means that if your purpose is to say, change the world through medical advancement and research, then day-to-day, you need to be working on something that is directly related to that – be it as a doctor, as a pharmaceutical sales rep or as an online supplements manufacturer. By doing this, you are ensuring that you are being productive every minute of every day, as you are moving closer and closer towards your purpose with everything you do.

If you find yourself doing something that is completely unrelated to your purpose in life, say your purpose is to end the world’s water supply problems but you work in retail, then you are very simply not being “productive” with your time.

Now there is some argument over doing work for money and after accumulating a bit, using your wealth as a resource towards fulfilling your purpose. This can definitely work, but comes with 3 important caveats:

  1. You must be very clear about when you will stop working and start pursuing your purpose.
  2. You must be very good at saving and conserving your income.
  3. You must have a high income potential job where you can accumulate 7-8 figures over 5-10 years. Examples include lawyers, investment bankers, consultants and affiliate marketers.

If you are a business owner, the simplest way to implement this idea is to make sure your business is related to your purpose in life.

Once you have the basis for alignment, you can apply Asian Efficiency principles to help keep you on track and get there faster. For example:

  • Remind yourself of your focus and purpose through a journal and morning/evening rituals.
  • Do a time tracking assessment and make sure that your day-to-day activities and goals are in alignment.
  • Systematically optimise each and every area of your life to support your primary focus and purpose – this is your health, wealth, relationships, knowledge, emotions, discipline and systems.

Where to go next

I hope this article has given you a lot to think about… and has changed your view on our ability to direct our focus and our potential to be productive all the time.

If you haven’t read it yet, our article on finding your purpose and aligning your time and goals are great supporting reads.

Be sure also to subscribe to our newsletter if you haven’t already, and leave a comment – we love to hear from readers.

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Last Updated: February 9, 2021

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Thanh Pham

Founder of Asian Efficiency where we help people become more productive at work and in life. I've been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, and The Globe & Mail as a productivity thought leader. At AE I'm responsible for leading teams and executing our vision to assist people all over the world live their best life possible.

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  1. I absolutely LOVE this article. Bookmarked on my phone, my Mac, and my work computer to keep referring back every day :-)

    I write nightly essays very similar to this about “bigger picture” thinking and tips… Would love to help you guys write posts if you’d allow me to contribute. All out of love and light – keeping the focus on harnessing your true purpose!

    P. S. I may not be physically Asian, but I am in spirit (and had a Korean boyfriend throughout my college years)

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