Our video series, Field Studies, covers the skills every world-class recruiter needs in areas such as productivity, relationship-building, identifying talent and looking to the future. In each episode, industry experts and our assembled panel of hiring professionals share their knowledge — and you’ll learn some interesting facts along the way.

How would you describe Benjamin Franklin? You could call out Franklin as an author, printer, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, activist, statesman, diplomat — you might even say Franklin was one of the most productive Americans in history. 

But would you have given Ben Franklin credit for your to-do list? It’s true — Franklin invented this workday staple for getting stuff done. But as we explore in this Field Studies video, productivity is more than a checklist: it’s a state of mind.

What’s your first step toward becoming more productive?

We asked Mark Adams, SVP and head of innovation at Vice Media, what he thought was the first step toward becoming more productive. “Make a budget of where you’re spending your time,” he advises. 

People make financial budgets — doesn’t it make sense to have a time budget, too? Adams is a believer in the Pareto principle, an observation that 80% of results in life come from 20% of actions

In other words, 80% of sales come from 20% of salespeople, 20% of drivers cause 80% of accidents and so on. Take a look at how you really spend your productive 20%, Adams advises, and trim away at the rest. 

Self-knowledge is key to creating your time budget, and recruiters we talked to gave some productivity tips:

Identify what time of day you work best — “I think my biggest productivity hack is knowing myself and knowing what times of day I work best and which days of the week.” 

Schedule wisely — You might be surprised to learn that studies show Tuesday is typically the most productive day of the week and that — according to one study — more people apply for jobs on Tuesday than any other day of the week. 

Color-code your calendar — “I am a very heavy calendar user and I actually color-code everything, and I do that so I can go back the week before or the month before and see how I actually used my time.”

Is there a smart way to weed out workplace distractions?

You don’t have to get crazy with isolation techniques to boost productivity. Channel conditions on an airplane flight — some say one hour of work on a plane is equal to three hours on the job

Why? Limited internet, a lot of white noise and few distractions (and being busy is a good way to signal you’re not open to conversation with your seatmates). Being on that flight forces you to lock in on what’s at hand. 

Adams says that the smartest productivity people he knows use this lock-in technique. When done well, he sees that focus as a form of mental leverage: 

“Essentially locking yourself in where, for that period of time, there’s nothing the CPU in your brain is thinking about apart from this one thing” is incredibly effective for productivity.

How much should I accomplish to be productive?

Recruiters we talked to pointed out that productivity creates a competitive advantage. For example, productive recruiters are able to make sure all those calls, follow-ups and emails are happening in a timely manner. That competitive advantage, though, goes beyond checking boxes each day.

In fact, Adams is skeptical about anyone who says they get everything done on their to-do list in a day. “For me, if I can do one critical thing a week, I’m happy,” he says. “If I miss everything else … it almost doesn’t matter.” 

What really matters, he says, is making steps forward.That focus on the long-term goal — positive progression — is moving from a checklist mentality toward a productivity mindset. And embracing a productivity mindset will help you get closer to the hire quicker.