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Written by Shawn, Co-Founder of Vista List. Originally posted on Medium.

r/Productivity is the Sub-Reddit I visit, read and comment the most on. It is a place where people are truly having trouble being productive and are seeking help. There are plenty of productive people in the community that help these people and / or contribute great articles and blog posts trying to help people. If you are in a rut or struggling finding out how to become productive, read on and subscribe to r/Productivity.

Over my time of reading through this Sub-Reddit, I have noticed the most common misconception and question asked is around what is considered ‘Being Productive’? Most people tend to think being productive just means working. For me and many other people, being productive is not limited to just working.

My definition of being productive is: Using your free time in a way that either betters yourself or the ones around you.

Some people view watching YouTube or Netflix as un-productive. It can be considered productive if it is a documentary or a how-to video, but not if it is the first season of Narcos. Note: There is nothing wrong with taking time out of your day and doing un-productive things. This is human nature and what keeps us going. Without a break in the day or week, we tend to burn out and become less productive than we were before. Using your free time in productive ways helps you both personally and professionally.

The 80/20 rule is a good rule of thumb in terms of how to spend your time. 80% towards working on productive things like work, learning a new skill, or doing a hobby. 20% of your time on things like Netflix, You Tube and surfing the internet.

Some examples of what I consider to be productive:

  1. Exercising. Being healthy is productive no matter what type of exercise you do. Stress relief from work and bettering your mental and physical health is a must.
  2. Reading books, newspaper and magazines. I would avoid the gossip ones, but fiction books are still great as they help you become a better reader, get a better imagination and potentially become a better writer.
  3. Online coursework. Many of these are videos on YouTube or on sites like Udemy, but you are learning a new skill that can benefit you in many ways. Plus, they’re free or very inexpensive.
  4. Hobbies. Hobbies are great as they get you away from the TV, allowing you to learn new skills, enjoy time away from work and give you the opportunity to meet new people with similar interests.
  5. Spending time with family and friends. Relationships are crucial to living fulfilled lives. Always make sure to make time for friends and family as they help you through the highs and lows of your life.

Here are a some specific examples of what I consider productive and not-productive.

  1. Volunteering to help review less fortunate students’ essays. This is a very productive thing to do. You are using your free time to help other people and potentially better their lives. You are also showing them that you are willing to take your free time to help and in-turn they may pass it down to future generations.
  2. Scrolling through Facebook and Instagram catching up on your friends. As I mentioned, everyone needs that downtime to rejuvenate, but time on Facebook, Instagram and others are not a productive use of your time. People tend to get sucked into these and it affects their productivity at work as well.
  3. Watching and reading articles on how to effectively use Facebook as an advertising medium. A great way to turn an un-productive thing into something productive. This is learning a new skill that you can either use to promote your business, product or brand or help others do the same.

Before I close out this post, the last personal tip I have to take 5– 10 minutes after a long day and either breathe in silence or go for a walk outside. This helps me clear my mind and get the weight off my shoulders. Often, you are inside all day and spending a few minutes outside helps you emotionally and mentally, not to mention the Vitamin D you can get from the sun!

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