Taxing Your Future with Non-Productivity

Up until recently I’ve been pretty okay with my mediocre productivity.

I’d constantly repeat to myself the self-perpetuating truths about my existence:

“I’ll get there eventually.”

“It’s all about the ‘journey’ anyway.”

“I’ll just take my time.”

and the most important one we all say, but would never admit the thought actually crosses our minds:

“I’ll get it done later.” (Notice I didn’t say tomorrow, just later.)

The Math Behind Productivity

I had never really taken this to heart when looking at unproductivity. I had always calculated what would happen IF I WAS MORE PRODUCTIVE. And guess what, that never motivated me.

Of course I knew I could get more done and probably make more money, but I’d get there eventually, right? That’s what I always told myself.

I was way wrong on how I was looking at things. I always viewed them from the perspective of, “But when do I get to just do what I want?”

Here’s what I found out, and this made me go cold inside.

Just a single hour of non-productivity a day is 365 hours of non-productivity a year.

That’s equivalent to sitting on your ass for two weeks straight PLUS a day. Most of us can’t wait to get back from a seven day vacation because we have the desire to go back to working.

Let’s see where three hours of non-productivity lands us:

3 Hrs/Day x 365 days/yr = 1,095 hours of non-productivity.

1,095/24 hrs= 45 days of non-productivity. That’s a MONTH AND A HALF of basically just sitting on your couch looking at a wall a YEAR. Let’s look at one more.

You get off your shift of eight hours from work at 4 PM. You head home through traffic, head to the gym(why you didn’t go in the morning is still beyond you), finish at the gym and pick up food, then head home to shower and relax, because you deserve it. (Feel free to sub in picking the kids up from school, making them dinner, etc.)

It’s now 5:30 PM and you’re ready to relax. Next thing you know it’s 10:30 PM, and you’re ready for sleep. What you did didn’t matter. What does mater is that you’re tired of going to the 9-5, you don’t know when it will be over, you feel like you owe it to yourself to chill out, and yet somehow, in the back of your mind, it’s just sitting there.

Yep, five hours came and went just like that, and most times you’re selling your hours to someone else for $15 to $20 per.

Five hours a day of non-productivity(including wishful thinking) is 1,825 hours, or 76 days a year, of literally doing nothing.

Want to know why you aren’t where you’re at? Look at the white space on your calendar. That’s TIME, our most valuable resource, not being utilized. Even at minimum, if you pay yourself your wage(let’s just use $15/hr) for 1,825 hours, you’re looking at $27,000 dollars of income left on the table.

Let that marinate.

We Tax our Future with Non-Productivity

We go to work because at the ‘easiest’ level of working a 9-5(being an entrepreneur is TOUGHHHH) we are guaranteed to make an hourly wage in exchange for our hours. We know that if we show up today, and tomorrow, and this whole week, that we can collect a check that compensates us for at least not sitting on our ASS.

How do we “tax our future?”

Think of it this way: If you didn’t work for two whole weeks, would you expect a paycheck?

For most of us, that answer is no.

What we don’t realize is that we are speaking about ourselves in the future, except you’re just not THERE, though for technical reasons at this point in time, you’ve now actually pictured yourself without a paycheck in two weeks ;). The same with action and inaction. You can take as long as you want to do a thing or get started, and that’s exactly why you’re putting a tax on the future.

You are taxing TIME in the future that you aren’t guaranteed. If you spend $5 today, where will that $5 be tomorrow?

So if I, as I have almost my whole life, put off a

  • task
  • idea
  • stretching
  • finances
  • (insert yours here)

WHATEVER; somewhere, sometime in the future I will have to pay interest on my non-productivity.

How to Get More Productive

Be intentional about where you put your attention. Where our attention goes, energy flows. This means we must know exactly what we are doing at any given moment, which is great!

Attention, intention, and focus are time and energy multipliers. The more you use on a single target, the more energy flows. The more energy flows to a single target, the more likely to come alive that target becomes.

Time is our most valuable asset, as without time we couldn’t even make money.

David Meltzer said, “You only have activities. Either you get paid for those activities or you don’t.”

Here’s my personal list of how to get more productive:

  • Get over your feelings about being active with your productivity; it takes a while rewiring the brain, so embrace the pain and remember you’re taking care of your future NOW
  • Get a journal, wall calendar, and whiteboards(I have four, possibly overkill)
    • I use a whiteboard in the kitchen for mostly quotes and quick ideas
    • I use three others on three walls of my room; one for teaching, one as a to-do list and another for future ideas and projects that come to mind
    • The calendar I keep filled out with how my day is going to go, trying to fill in as much white space as possible, as those spaces are the most expensive(remember that $27,000 we left on the table?)
    • The journal keeps a tab on everything you feel and go through, as well as a gratitude practice(science shows being grateful is one of the best things that actually change our lives)
  • Get up early and stretch, read a book for self-improvement and/or get a quick workout in, start off with; discipline is a necessity to have as a baseline – remember your current baseline has you where you are now. Calculate your baseline with this:
    • Most common daily thing you do = C
    • Time spent doing that = T
    • Time spent doing that per week = WT(T x 7)
    • Your baseline is literally what you do the most, and for a lot of people, this is mindless eating and tv show binging
  • Reward yourself for being disciplined with a once a week day to relax and recuperate
    • This is a day of rest, not drinking and being lazy
    • self care like epsom salt baths, stretching, meditation, and others are key to keep you rejuvenated
    • record what worked, what didn’t work, and what you will fix moving forward

What you do with your time is completely up to you.

The future you will either thank you for it, or be upset about it, and in that FEELING of the future, you find your anxiety or happiness NOW.


Published by James Taylor

Dedicated to changing the world by changing myself. Actions speak louder than words and the mind is the battlefield through which all wars are won. It cannot happen outside before it happens inside. What you believe, you can achieve.

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