No. 188



One Sunday afternoon a man and his wife were taking a drive in the country and after about an hour she said, "You know, I think we're lost." He said, "Yeah, but aren't we making good time?" While on the surface it may not be obvious, but this simple story contains a principle that has the potential to help any of us achieve greater success in our lives. This principle can be summed up with these words: If you don't know where you are going any road will take you there.

While you may or may not have thought about this, every day in our nation, as well as throughout the world, there are millions of people who have no destination, no direction and no purpose in life. What this really boils down to is "Wasted Time-Wasted Lives." The really sad thing, at least for a good percentage of these people, is that it does not have to be this way. Now, please allow me to digress for just a moment. What I have said up to this point can only become a reality if we are free and have the opportunity to use the time and talents that God has given us. This is why I thank God every day for America where we have more opportunity than anywhere else on earth.

Here is the bottom line. If we are to use our time and talents in the most productive way, there are certain things we need to know. I believe one of the key things we need to know and understand is the difference between activity and productivity. Have you ever thought about this? Have you ever wondered why some people can stay 'busy' all the time and yet never seem to accomplish anything really worthwhile? While on the other hand, we see people around us who accomplish so much but yet never seem to break a sweat. The other day I asked Willie Oates, who is a world beater in this respect, how she accomplished so much. She replied, "I'm organized. Each day I make a list of things I need to do and then I check them off one at a time as I do them." To be sure, this is a big part of making the wisest possible use of our time.

But back to the subject at hand. A thorough understanding of the difference between activity and productivity can make all the difference in the world. The dictionary defines activity as "brisk or vigorous movement or action." In other words, activity simply means staying busy. For example, a person could take a rag and wipe the same table a hundred times and they would certainly be busy but they would not be productive.

You are getting the picture if you can think of a number of people who spend their days in this way. Now, let's look at the word productive for a moment. The dictionary defines productive as, "producing or tending to produce profits or increase in quantity, quality or value." The word 'productive' is an economic term but it can also be applied to any other area of our lives. This is true for people who are retired, still working or just starting out in life.

Here is the criteria. If we are to be productive, most of our actions or activity must be directed toward the attainment of a predetermined goal or objective. In other words, we must be working toward something specific that we have determined that we need to do. Do you see what I am saying? You can puddle, piddle or muddle around in all types of activity and never accomplish anything. On the other hand, if you are working, individually or as part of a group, towards a predetermined goal or objective and your actions are focused and directed to this end, YOU ARE PRODUCTIVE. May I suggest that you think about what I have said here and each day, try to evaluate each act your perform. Ask yourself, "Is this the most productive use of my time or am I just staying busy?" The end result may surprise you. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)