No matter how often I speak to audiences about productivity, the recurring themes of what keeps people like you (and me) from being as productive as desired are always the same.
Here are the top 5 productivity traps and how you can avoid them.
Putting things off. We all do it. The problem with procrastination is not only does it sap your productivity it ultimately creates a crisis later. Assuming what you are procrastinating about is something you really need to be doing, eventually it’ll come back to bite you. Either it will turn into a last minute crisis or you will skip it altogether creating a new problem. That kind of drama will only suck the life out of you over the long haul.
Reasons for procrastination include:
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of knowledge of what to do next/how to do it
- Depletion or exhaustion (so you don’t really have the energy to do it)
The antidote for procrastination is to be crystal clear on what you are doing and why you are doing it. If you need help, ask for it. If you’re exhausted, rest. If you’re afraid, do it anyway (or get support so you can make that courage leap). If it’s something you don’t really want to do, employ a mental hack to get over the speed bump. The sooner you focus and get into action, the faster you will be freed up to do other things.
Too Many Things to Do At Once
This comes in the form of competing priorities and trying to do too many things at the same time. You can only focus on one thing at a time. So do one thing. Then do another. We all have many things to do. As business owners your to-do list will never end. This is why having a strategy, prioritizing, and focus are tantamount to being effective. I invite you to literally toss the long list of to-do’s and choose one point of focus for every 30-90 minutes in your day. Do only that one thing.
Who doesn’t want to succumb to the allure of bright shiny objects? When motivation is low or you’re exhausted or struggling, it feels so much better to do something, anything other than what you need to be doing. Between the myriad of emails, phone calls, text messages, and social media time warps, you could spend all day on a distraction adventure and never get anything done. Set your environment up for success and focus. This means eliminating tempting distractions. Close email. Shut off social media except for a few specific, strategic times. Don’t answer the phone when you’re working on something. Avoiding distractions is a combination of environment and self-management.
The enemy of done is the desire to get things perfect. There is no such thing as perfect. Unless you are a brain surgeon or aviation engineer, good enough is good enough. Release the shackles of doing and redoing things by setting a timer and getting in action. You’re after completion, not perfection.
Everything seems urgent! The problem is that when you focus on putting out fires and doing the things that are urgent but not most important, you will never move forward to where you want to be. Instead you will be stuck in a whirlpool of “hurry up” and responding to the whims of everyone and everything around you. Avoid falling into this trap by fiercely protecting your time and focus. Do only things that are important. If it is urgent and important, by all means tend to it, but this should be the rare exception, not the rule. If you find yourself in constant crisis mode, it’s a sign you need to change your work habits.
Want to learn how to get twice as much done in half the time? I can help you do just that. Schedule an exploratory conversation with me here.