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How I Stay Productive

2 minutes Read

By Gene Marks

productiveHere’s what I do every week.

I write a daily column for The Washington Post. I write weekly and bi-weekly columns for Forbes,, Entrepreneur, The Huffington Post and Philadelphia Magazine. And, I write for corporate clients like CAN Capital. I also run a 10-person company that sells customer relationship management software and serves about 600 active clients. I play squash twice a week. I have two dogs, a cat, three kids in college and will be celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary next year. I’m busy and I’m productive and I hope to be this way for a long, long time. How do I stay so productive? Every productive person does what works best for them. Only you know what works best for you. Here’s what works best for me.


I know my best time of day to work. I get up every weekday morning at 5AM. I write until about 7AM. Then, I put things aside and run my business. By the time I start making calls (8:30AM) or going to my first client appointment (usually 10AM) I’ve been running for about 3-5 hours already. I do this because I’m a morning person. That’s my strongest time of the day so I take advantage of it. By the afternoon, I begin to flag (sometimes I take a catnap at my desk). I can rally late night, but I try not to, opting instead for more sleep. Productive people figure out what time of day is their best time of day and leverage it.

I have a plan and I break my work into chunks. I knew two days ago that this morning I would be writing this piece. I had a plan. I’ve put aside this time ahead of time. I plan out my day at least a day in advance and have goals that I want to accomplish. I do the same on weekends, resolving on a Friday what few things I want to make sure I accomplish by Monday. I pretty much know what I’ll be doing between now and the next 2-3 days. I commit to the plan and make sure, even with everything else going on, that I get done what I planned to get done. I like to tell clients that we do what we say we’re going to do. And I like to say to myself that I do what I say I’m going to do. I break larger tasks into smaller chunks. And I break my days into chunks – I know in advance that I’ll be writing from 5AM- 7AM, then making calls between 8AM and 10AM and I make sure nothing distracts me from that. I’m not getting distracted. I’m not looking at emails. I’m not taking calls. Productive people are in control of their schedule and always have a plan.

I take time off. Productive people are not exhausted people. To stay productive you must have energy. And you must have balance. Working all day isn’t being productive. Getting as much done during your allotted work time is being productive. We don’t live to work, we work to live. I make sure to break away and get exercise. I shut down in the evenings so I can hang out with my family and watch mindless TV. I do my best to keep my weekends free of work (although not entirely). I organize my schedule so I can have the time to spend for me. “Me” meaning things that I enjoy and take my mind off of work – my family, sports, movies, reading, baseball games. I find that pulling myself out of the rut of my daily work frees up and relaxes my brain, making me even more productive when I re-engage. Productive people have balance.

This is how I stay productive. This may not work for you at all. This may work for you a lot. Everyone is different. Just remember though – it’s not about how many hours you work. It’s just what you accomplish. And if you can accomplish your goals in as little time as possible, leaving you more time to enjoy life, then you’re doing something right.


Small business influencer Gene Marks is a guest blogger for CAN Capital. He is a celebrated author, columnist and small business owner.

Photo credit: YuryZap/