You can't be "useless after 8:00 PM" if you want to be productive

I was speaking to someone this week about being more productive, and over the course of accounting for his time, he informed me that he is "useless after 8:00 PM."

In short, the only way he could possible spend his time after 8:00 is by watching TV.

couch tv.jpg

This is ridiculous, of course. 

Had the person in question been working two jobs or working or playing in a sports league after work or volunteering in a soup kitchen during the dinner hour, I might understand this claim better, but this person works a typical 9:00-5:00 job, followed by dinner, dishes, and television.

This is not the way to live a productive life. 

Please note:

I'm not judging this particular life choice (out loud), but when you come to me hoping for advice on living a more productive life and tell me that you can't accomplish anything after 8:00 PM, I'm going to take issue.

Happily, I also have a solution to this after-dinner malaise: 


Exercise is one of the most dependable mood-boosters. Even a 10-minute walk can brighten your outlook and increase your energy level.

It's counter-intuitive, I know. Spend energy to get energy, but anyone who exercises regularly will tell you that this is true. Exercise is an enormous energy booster, and on days when I am not able to exercise, I feel the sluggishness.

In fact, in warmer months, it's not uncommon for me to go on a 15 minute run around the neighborhood at 9:00 PM if my hope if to be productive and alert past midnight. That 15 minute burst of speed and effort does more for me than caffeine ever could.

Theoretically, at least. Caffeine sadly has no effect on me. I can drink a 32 ounce caffeinated drink and still be asleep ten minutes later.   

My cross to bear.

But exercise!

Walking. Running. Playing a sport. Climbing aboard an elliptical or rowing machine. Coming over to my house and mowing the lawn or cutting up the enormous branch in the backyard that I still don't know what to do with.  

Just 15 minutes a day can make an enormous difference. 

When I work with people on personal productivity, I look primary at three things:

  1. Efficiency during the work day (can you complete tasks faster if more thought is put into planning/methodology?)
  2. Prioritization: Are you spending too much time on things that aren't important?
  3. Time: How are you spending those hours outside the typical work day? 

Too often I discover that people lounge in bed after awaking (which hurts their ability to fall asleep quickly and maximize their sleep) and spend most (if not all) of their evenings in front of the television. 

While I'm not judging these behaviors (out loud), they are certainly not helpful to the person who wants to be more productive and make their dreams come true. 

Instead of plopping down in front of the TV, go for a walk. Try to make it a jog or even a run. When you return, you'll feel refreshed, invigorated, and prepared to take on the world. Ready to make your dreams come true.

It's not impossible. Just remember:

Those actors, athletes, comedians, musicians, and performers who you are passively watching from the comfort of your couch: They are making their dreams come true right before your eyes. They are doing what so many want to do but so few can do.

The writers and directors and producers of the show... same thing.

Visual evidence that making your dreams come true is entirely possible. But probably not if you're useless after 8:00 PM.