Insanely Productive

by Sage Reddy


Insanely Productive image

“Sorry ma’am, we’re closed,” he informs the frantic shopper as he pulls down the shutters. “I just need one thing,” the customer shouts back in protest, squeaks by and runs into the store. “You have 3 minutes,” he shouts towards her, shaking his head. I can hear him mumbling, “Employees need holidays too.”

Darn! Becca and I need a lot more than 3 minutes to get all our Christmas groceries. Besides, it’s the weekend, which is when we do all our grocery shopping. How the hell can anyone do it in 3 minutes? 2 minutes, by the time we get to the door and sneak into the store.

Mission impossible!

Even so, the eternal (and some would say foolish) optimist in me believes we can. Besides, we’re having friends over for Christmas and failure is not an option. Once inside, I quickly run down our mental checklist. Meat, fruits, dairy, eggs, veggies, tortillas, grains, spices…beer. Christmas or not, never forget beer. :) We split the list between us and scamper off in different directions. We have no time to lose.

So…did we do it?

Surprisingly, yes!

Took us about five minutes though. My wife and I have managed to do our entire grocery shopping in under five minutes. Which is impressive because, believe you me, we are picky eaters and our list is long. How did we do it?

When A Crisis Is A Good Thing

In one word…desperation.

Desperation puts the mind in a crisis mode. When one’s in a crisis, one stops thinking and starts doing. Nothing will get you out of your head and into your body like a crisis. A crisis has no room for heavy analysis or over-thinking; you must simply act. With the adrenalin pumping through your veins, you can do amazing stuff—stuff that defies reason, logic and time. Then, time-wise, even the impossible becomes possible.

But time is a very subjective thing. Did you ever hear of the saying, “work expands to take up all available time?” Give someone 1/2 hour to do something and that is what it’ll take them. Give them half a day and that’s what it’ll take them. Now, give them only 5 minutes and don’t be surprised if they get it done.

In addition to our time-induced desperation, there are a couple of other things that helped us kill it at the grocery store: 1) knowing exactly what you need, and 2) being very opinionated and having strong food preferences.

Our wants in life are endless, but they are also great time and energy suction devices. The needs in life, on the other hand, are few and consume very little of our time and energy. The good thing about a crisis is that it locks your attention onto your needs.

Marshall Those Emotions

I know, I know, it’s hard to be around highly opinionated people with strong preferences. Usually, these folks like what they like and nothing else. They may even come across as unreceptive to new ideas. Well, guess what? This “flaw” of theirs is actually a blessing in a crisis because it counters indecisiveness.

In a crisis, highly opinionated people people are driven by pure emotion. Your emotional brain (your limbic system) is much older than your rational brain, which is quite feeble. Powered by emotion, you’re able to make split-second decisions. So trust your primal, emotional brain.

So there you have it. Want to be insanely productive in life? Here’s Sage’s productivity secret in a nutshell:

  1. Know exactly what you want (by focusing on your needs).
  2. See it “done” in your mind’s eye (before you even begin).
  3. Set a time limit (hey, be reasonable).
  4. Let your emotions work for you (your emotions are your friends).

Viola! You’ll out shine yourself each time, every time.

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This post was written by...

has written 23 posts on Ask Sage.

Writer, philosopher, Life Coach, author, wisefool, blogger, foodie, musician, tinkerer and husband to a beautiful wife. Founder of Aikya Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to human happiness.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Julieanne van Zyl January 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Sage, great story, love the way you started it off, I would’ve loved to have seen you do all your grocery shopping in just 5 mins. That kind of desperation certainly does make you more productive. I used to do the same thing during “swot vac” (week before exams) week. I would have my timetable written down, and everything planned to the last minute, so I would cram everything into my brain. (Terrible isn’t it!)

It would always work though, and I always passed the exams when I did that.

Doing that all the time is too stressful I think though. I like your 4 tips better Sage! Regards from Julieanne
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Sage Reddy January 25, 2012 at 6:16 am

Thanks for your engaging comments, Julieanne. I would have loved it if I could hear it all in your wonderful accent. :) I agree, it’s not a good idea to be eternally in a crisis-mode. Too stressful for the mind/body. But it’s definitely possible to cultivate a total focus of mind.


Joyce January 20, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Thanks for sharing Sage.

When i lost my job a few years ago i had to get in motion and increase my productivity towards making money. If not I will loss everything- my house, car and my sanity.

Now i have a business of my dream. Insane desperation lead me to achieving this.
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Sage Reddy January 25, 2012 at 5:28 am

Exactly Joyce. Desperation is what has inspired your new achievements. I wish you continued success.


Tamyka Washington January 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Great Article Sage, now I don’t feel bad for operating off my emotions most of the time! I also find that having a deadline, kicks me into high gear and I often work better under pressure.
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Sage Reddy January 20, 2012 at 11:41 am

Yes, Tamyka can be our best buddies if we master them. I hate deadlines, but wouldn’t get anything done without ’em. :)


Becca January 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I think you could add to your list of productive secrets: stop being a perfectionist. It really helps when I stop trying to be “perfect” and find contentment in whatever it is I’m doing. I’m currently working on this one and it is amazing what I can do when I’m not being so impossible with myself!:)


Sage Reddy January 18, 2012 at 11:21 am

Well said, love. I couldn’t agree with you more.
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Lilach Bullock January 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Great post Sage:) I find the same just before I’m going on holiday. The amount of work I can do in the 48 hour period before I live is so productive… I wish I had that focus and ability every day… I’d be flying high:)
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Sage Reddy January 18, 2012 at 10:59 am

Me too, Lilach. Every time I leave for a vacation, it becomes a focused mission. It IS possible to have that focus everyday. Would love to do a post on how to have that focus constantly at some point.
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Catarina Alexon January 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Absolutely true. When a crisis happens we can actually make miracles happen:-) And we all get done what we need to do in given time.
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Sage Reddy January 18, 2012 at 10:55 am

I do love miracles that come from a focused mind, Catarina.
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Dr. George Suarez January 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm

That’s a very good example on how to be productive. Whatever the situation what matters in the end is how we handled the situation and whether our actions are productive. Even from criticisms we have to try to find something productive.


Sage Reddy January 18, 2012 at 10:50 am

Well said, Dr Suarez. What matters is not what happens to us in life, but how we respond to it.
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Easther January 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Sage, awesome Post!

it’s amazing what you can achieve in one of those desperate moments!
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Sage Reddy January 18, 2012 at 10:47 am

Thanks Easther. You’re right, desperation can be a good thing if you know how to use it.
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Jayne Kopp January 14, 2012 at 4:14 am

Hi Sage, I totally got all of your messages in this post. First of all, know your preferences… ie: just as you are so clear on your food choices… there’s no over thinking that way.

Also, knowing time is limited certainly does tend to push you to the limit. I agree emotions are our friends… we have to let them lead the way sometimes.

Great post



Sage Reddy January 18, 2012 at 10:46 am

Exactly Jayne. When we put our emotions to work for us indecisiveness goes out the window. Thanks for your feedback!
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Stacy January 14, 2012 at 12:20 am

Hi Sage,

That’s an excellent point that you make, people will get done what they need to in the time given. It always happens on those reality shows (not that I watch much TV at all, but the ones I’ve seen always have some insane timeframe to get something done) and the people always seem to come through somehow. I’ve experienced it myself in my own life, getting something done faster than I thought possible because of a deadline.

If we give ourselves self imposed deadlines we would get a lot more accomplished!

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Sage Reddy January 18, 2012 at 10:44 am

Indeed Stacy. As someone once said, “If it weren’t for deadlines, I’d never get anything done.”
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Warren January 13, 2012 at 10:54 pm

I totally have a mental image of you cruising full speed through the store tossing items into the cart! LOL

Nice one!
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Sage Reddy January 18, 2012 at 10:42 am

Hey Warren! Good to hear from you again. You must have been there watching me ‘cos that’s exactly what I was doing.
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Natalie January 13, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Love this post, Sage – so true that we can always surprise ourselves with how much we can accomplish in a short period of time. And often having more time just makes us procrastinate, over-think and over-analyze everything!
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Sage Reddy January 18, 2012 at 10:41 am

Yes, Natalie. I like surprises, good or bad, if they help me revise my sense of reality.
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JosephJYoung January 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Hi Askage!
I like it! It is so amazing what we can accomplish in moments of desperation. Our focus becomes razor sharp. Yes, with a little touch of analytics and emotion what we really can accomplish in one day. This is a great post for Network Marketers too, specially those who say they don’t have time. 24HRS in a day really is plenty for us all or God would have given us 36 hour days!

Great share,
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Sage Reddy January 18, 2012 at 10:39 am

Indeed Joe. I don’t buy it when anyone (me included) complains about lack of time. It’s not lack of time, it’s lack of focus.
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Kostas January 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm

These 4 rules are not only the secret for being productive in life they are the keys to success. Most people cannot follow to your first rule (Know exactly what you want) so it’s unovoidably to never get there, thanks for sharing Sage…
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Sage Reddy January 18, 2012 at 10:37 am

You’re absolutely right, Kostas. If you KNOW what you want, the rest is quite easy.
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Sarah Arrow January 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Cool post Sage, focusing can be harder than we think at times. I shall aim to give people less time to do something so they have more time for the better things in life.
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Sage Reddy January 18, 2012 at 10:34 am

You’re right, Sarah. Total focus at all times is not easy, but I believe it’s a skill (and a habit) that can be acquired.
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