Why You Fail At Being Productive And How To Fix It
Learning to be productive nowadays with our hectic lifestyles and demanding jobs is a tough prospect, made all the more difficult by the fact there is no one correct way of doing it. You have to learn as you go and falling off the wagon is a common problem. However, from reading about and listening to other people’s experiences, there are several common reasons why they fall down. In this post I want to address them and hopefully it will give any budding productivity fans a few different anges to focus on. As a bonus why not share your own experiences. What has caused your productivity to fall apart in the past? How did you resolve it?
- Stop being a perfectionist
To productivity, perfectionism is like that annoying friend who you can only cope with in small doses. It will almost always lead to you getting bogged down in the details and just generally draining both your time and energy. When it’s a potentially life changing book you’re writing, that’s great because that attention to detail could make all the difference. However, for everything else, working on it till it’s good enough will almost always literally be good enough.
- Don’t make things too complex
It’s so easy to complicate productivity, whether it be your overall understanding of it or the tools and systems you are forever experimenting with. However, there is one critical rule about productivity that people always seem to forget. If it’s too complicated and/or it takes too long do something you won’t do it. We’re talking mere seconds here too . When you are juggling several tasks at once or you just simply can’t be bothered that day, if you need to boot your PC, open a program and then click through several menus to find the status of several of your projects, you’ll soon be falling off the wagon…
- It’s not necessarily your system
…and probably blaming your tools. How easy it is to accuse your latest productivity setup. Ok, sometimes it is guilty as charged. I wanted to try out a Moleskine knowing full well that as soon as I had smudged some ink or carelessly doodled a random drawing on its pages I’d forever regret defiling its precious surface. However, you need to look at yourself and how you work too. One of the most common examples of this is how people continue to plod on when they are tired. Take a break!
- Busyness isn’t the goal
Companies like to see busyiness. When your overall efficiency revolves around the 9-5 culture, it’s easy to judge your performance based on what you’re doing during that time. Unfortunately, pointless work done well is still pointless and busyness leads to burnout, tedium and a general lack of motivation in your job. Not fun. Productivity might take you to new heights of efficiency but you still need to apply that to the right tasks. Contrary to general opinion, productivity isn’t a 24/7 lifestyle.
- The answers aren’t in a book
Or blog, magazine, motivational poster, seminar or audio CD for that matter (have I missed anything out?). If imitation was the sincerest form of flattery, David Allen’s head would have exploded a long time ago thanks to all the people out there trying to mimic GTD in their lives. Read these books for ideas, inspiration, experimentation and even research but bear in mind it’s all just one author’s own way of doing things, not a fullproof methodology for everyone.
- You actually need to do something
Sure, it’s important to plan. If people didn’t plan we’d all be sat on wonky chairs in the middle of crumbling homes. To be productive you often have to do a lot of preparation. You have to get stuff out of your head and be clear on what needs to be done. Unfortunately that doesn’t constitute actually getting things done. Carefully plotting out the next several actions for a major project may be comforting and you’ll be much more focused as a result but it’s meaningless without action.