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The Reason Why You Work All Day And Nothing Gets Done

Last Updated on August 28, 2015  

The day is young and you have big plans.

Today, you’re going to be productive. You’re going to make the world your biatch.

By lunch, you realize that things have been a little delayed. But, you’ve still got a shot. So, after lunch, you’re really going to buckle down. This time you mean it.

Except, by the end of the day, you’re feeling a little disappointed in yourself. Because, once again…

… you worked all day and yet don’t feel like anything of substance really got accomplished.

What the heck happened? Why does that seem to happen so often?

You ARE working, of course. You’re answering emails, dealing with phone calls. You might have even done some social networking. Hmm?

But, you feel like a feather in a breeze you didn’t make. The weird thing is, the stuff you were doing during the day isn’t exactly unimportant… but yet STILL, you don’t feel as if you made any real forward progress on much of anything.

The Reason Why

Having been through this way too many times, I can tell you EXACTLY what the reason why is.

It is because you can’t actually NAME your product. Or you simply haven’t.

See, every task that you embark on has an end product. Something is supposed to exist or be in a different state when that task is done. That outcome needs to be clearly stated.

When you can’t state it, then you engage in busy-work. You’re working but getting nothing done.

What is the actual PRODUCT of your job or position?

I doubt that the end product of your job is to simply act as a conduit for emails. If you’re hired to do something, then that position has SOMETHING that it is supposed to produce. If you can clearly identify and name what that is, then it becomes the orientation point for everything you do all day.

If you don’t have a regular job and are managing your own day, the same applies. What is the end product of your business? What is the outcome that you’re producing in the lives of others?

And bringing it down to a task-by-task basis, it works the same way.

Is the task clearly stated? What’s the outcome of it being done? Name it.

My most productive days are when I go into the office knowing full-well what product I want to be DONE before I leave for the day. When that outcome is clear to me, then I can fully focus on that and it gets done.

My least productive days are when I go into the office just… to work. I’m “going to work”. I don’t really know what I’m going to accomplish that day. I haven’t stated my product. I just… go to work and serve some time. And more often than not, it is THOSE days where I get to the end of it feeling like I didn’t really make much forward headway on anything of substance.

A stated product of “2 blog posts done and ready to publish” is much better than “I’m working on my blog.”

One is a noun. A stated and clear outcome.

The other is a verb. It is just action with no orientation.

Get clear on your product and name it. Then you’ll get things done.


If you agree with this post, please take a moment to share it on Twitter and Facebook. Hell, G+, too, if you’re feeling extra nice. 😉

Also, if productivity is something you struggle with, I created a course called Time Master Formula which may be just what you need. Also, I’m about to do a new module inside The Academy on productivity hacks ESPECIALLY for online business owners. If you want to participate in that, join The Academy today.

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  • SystemSavvy Consulting, LLC says:

    Love this post!  Thanks!  I also make sure I start with the one action that will move my business forward each day.  This way, I’m always getting closer and closer to my goals.  Emails, phone calls, etc., all wait until I’ve accomplished one item on my “list”.


  • Great article. Just what I needed to read today.


  • Thanks for getting down to the point.


  • churchbrandarchitect says:

    This is the best post I have read all month. If you were a preacher I would send an offering. Lol. I am forwarding this post to my list. Emailing it to my friends, and hanging it on my wall. I will never just go to work. Thank you


  • Chris Wakefield says:

    This was a wake up call to me too. I never set about something knowing my product.


  • Warren Wooden says:

    Yeah, just because my face is a little red and I might be feeling a tad guilty, doesn’t mean you were talking to me here… 🙂

    I tend to either be ultra-productive or I struggle to get things done. I recently itemized my daily tasks to outline what the end goal was (Income, Community, Education, Misc. Business, content creation, or traffic/SEO) and found out I was doing way too much misc. business and nowhere near enough of the other more important items. Sometimes it’s just good to list out exactly what you do in a day in order to figure out if your still on track or not.


  • I think equally important is not to have too many specific products in mind. Something always comes up (take dog to emergency vet, 90 min. down the tubes). It’s better to have one or two must-do projects and something more to do if time permits. It’s a nice feeling to get more work done that you really expected. Not, alas, that I’m consistently  good at following my own wonderful advice.


  • John Lee Dumas says:

    Well said Dave, thanks!.  I have always believed strongly in the mantra FOCUS : Follow One Course Until Success.  I try to apply that to my tasks throughout the day.  Otherwise I just have a bunch of half started nothings.


  • Rex Williams says:

    These are what I call Mondays. Happens every week.

    Thanks for the tip, David.

    “Post comment on Dave’s blog.” Done.


  • Moeswebtips says:

    I really needed to read this post. I am new to internet marketing and i do find entire days go by without any sense of doing anything


  • Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2 says:

    The other major contributor to getting something done once you define the clear outcome you want to have is the idea that you’ve made a deadline and now you’re working against the clock.

    But the key here is to value your deadlines with yourself just as highly as you would a deadline established with the most famous and important client you could possibly work with. 

    When you value your time just as much as you would the President of the United States, or the Pope or your favorite celebrity, that’s when you’ll REALLY start making things happen.  


    • David Risley says:

      Awesome advice. Thanks, Lewis. 🙂


  • Trish Jones says:

    I started using Brendon Burchard’s productivity forms and it it keeps me more focused. Whether on paper or with focused intention, I have to have my mind fixed on what I want to accomplish for the day or name my products as you call it David.


    • David Risley says:

      Great. I’ve not seen Burchard’s forms, but I also use some “forms” of my own – especially at the end of the week. I’m going to share it inside the Academy. Would be interesting to see if there are similarities. 🙂


  • Linda Jo Martin says:

    You guessed it!  I’ve devised a way of keeping track of my work-done, on a spreadsheet. If I didn’t have that proof of progress I’d feel lost.


  • Nathalie Lussier says:

    I totally agree David. It’s amazing how easily the hours can just fritter away if you’re not sure exactly what you need to get done that day. Great reminder, and I’m off to do just that. 😉


    • David Risley says:

      Sweet! 🙂 Missed you at Blogwold, BTW. Perhaps we’ll see you in Vegas. 🙂


  • Kimberly Houston says:

    Naming the end product — what a brilliant technique for nailing productivity.  I feel like I (mostly) have a handle on
    my daily writing/blogging/marketing task list and output each day, but this is a tactic I can see will take my efforts up a notch.
    The psychological difference between writing “work on next blog post draft” and “PUBLISH next blog post onTuesday” on my daily action
    item list is subtle, but meaningful, and gets me into action, rather than just thinking about action. 
    Powerful stuff, thanks for the tip.


    • David Risley says:

      Yep, its simple, but super effective if you actually do it.


  • Sheilacragg says:

    My biggest bug-a-boo! Great idea, one I need to employ!


  • PJ Brunet says:

    It’s also frustrating when Google sends you the top keywords for summer and it’s all about going to the lake, suntan lotion and things like that :p Like I need another market to serve–not. 


  • Carl Picot says:

    Hi David 

    More and more people sem to be focussing on productivity at this present moment in time. I guess that it must be getting to us all 🙂 

    Thanks for the cool tips mate. Very good stuff!



    • David Risley says:

      Its an important topic. 🙂


      • Carl Picot says:

        Indeed it is David – Probably the most important one to me presently 🙂 

        I wonder why my pic is not showing up in this thread?? 

        cheers mate 


  • S. Emerson says:

    Have you been looking over my shoulder?


  • Vonitabrown says:

    Once again you “nailed” it.


  • JR Griggs says:

    I thought I was the only one? 😉


    • David Risley says:

      Haha. We all deal with this from time to time. 🙂


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