You will never become a productive person unless you stop lying to yourself and get out of your own way. Sounds harsh, maybe, but hear me out!
There are so many posts about how to become more productive, with tips like the ones I share and many, many more methods besides. This is simply because everyone finds different things work for them.
But what if you have already tried these tips? What if you’ve seen them around and know they won’t work for you? How can you find your productivity if all the advice is telling you the same/wrong things?
Stop lying to yourself!
Yup. You heard me! Have you ever wondered why none of the top tips out there work for you? Or why maybe they work for a day or two then you just stop using them?
I’ll tell you why: You’re standing in your own way! Sabotaging your own efforts!
I know you may be thinking ‘No, I do want to be productive! Really!’ But there comes a time when you need to re-evaluate; has that little subconscious voice has been whispering in your ear and holding you back?
That is why this list is different. We’re going to look at what we’re doing wrong already, not what we need to start doing right. You’ll be surprised how familiar some of these might sound!
Let’s get on with it then!
It’s very easy to protest this one. ‘But I always meet my deadlines! But I multitask! I have more important things to do!’ I get it, believe me. But this is one we can’t compromise on.
Whether you realise it or not, by putting off the ‘little things’ because you have more important things to do, you are actually just sabotaging yourself.
I’m sure everyone has one of those DIY projects they meant to do… two years ago. You know, the one still sitting in the corner?
Or something stacked up somewhere that they should have sold/taken to the dump six months ago. There is really no excuse, these things usually only take a moment to do, but we as a species are fundamentally lazy, it’s why we’ve evolved the way we have! Think about it, almost every single big invention in history has been made for the sake of convenience. We even have moving stairs and spinning doors, people!
I found the other day that I was frustrated, miserable and overwhelmed by the amount of clutter and rubbish clogging up our house. When I examined what the clutter bothering me was, I realised it was these ‘too lazy to bother completing’ things.
So, I had Husband take a few things to the dump and I pulled out the DIY project and actually started it! Sure, I stalled out for a few days half way through, but I’m on the move again! Even just making a start made me feel so much better.
I have no idea why I put off the DIY job for two years, now I’m dying to get it finished, I’m excited to see the final product (there will be a post, of course) and I feel so much better not having it sat in the corner making me tense with its clutter!
Stop Making Excuses!
No, this is not the same as procrastinating!
Those awful thoughts you get when you have a new idea for something creative or productive which automatically pop up to get in your way.
Sometimes I’ll think of something new to write, but I’ll get a thought telling me ‘nobody wants to read that, don’t bother’ or ‘you will upset people if you write about that topic then everyone will hate you’. Silly, yes. Extreme, yes. But surprisingly common.
Of course, these might not be ‘excuses’ in the traditional sense, but if you let them stop you every time you want to make something new because you’re scared or unsure or lack confidence, you will soon find yourself using them as a crutch. Besides, not taking that step and putting yourself in a vulnerable position is safer than risking negative criticism, right?
Excuses can be sneaky; you might not even realise you are making them. They can be particularly frustrating if they trigger a negative reaction affecting something else, such as a relationship.
For example, you can’t be bothered to wash up. You know you need to, maybe it’s even your turn as far as your system works. But you’re tired or stressed or just feel like other things are more important right now. Then you walk past the sink later and see that pile still waiting for you and that frustration returns.
Maybe this time you start to think things like ‘why should it be my turn? I did it twice in a row last week’ or ‘I shouldn’t have to do it today; I’ve got too much to do!’
This way lies trouble, believe me! Suddenly your excuse has morphed from what it originally was into something much worse: placing blame and possibly even building resentment towards your partner. Usually, this is completely unwarranted and now you have a negative atmosphere brewing that is no one’s fault!
It can be so hard when you’re tired or stressed not to fall into this trap, but now you’re aware, try to keep an eye out, you might be surprised to find yourself doing this over something silly!
Hold Yourself Accountable!
This one might the most difficult for a lot of people. It is, after all, easier to pass the blame, isn’t it? Even if we don’t realise we’re doing it, it’s a pretty common way to think. An example of my own struggles with this one: I put on a great deal of weight with my second pregnancy.
But of course, it wasn’t my fault because I was pregnant! I knew I wasn’t actually supposed to eat for two, but I was having a difficult time, I needed my strength, I also couldn’t get about as easily so the loss of exercises didn’t help. But of course, this was also the fault of the pregnancy! I couldn’t do anything about it!
Now while certain things couldn’t be helped, I certainly did have more control over my diet than I protested. Maybe I did feel the need to eat more, but I could have chosen fruit or vegetables instead of chocolate and crisps. That was my choice and I didn’t hold myself accountable, I passed the blame on to my circumstances until not long after my son was born.
When I realised how unhappy I was with my weight, I began holding myself accountable. I kept a daily calorie count diary and started to push myself to take a walk, not the car. I stopped buying the ‘trigger’ foods I knew I couldn’t resist and sure enough, within the next 6 months I lost two stone, getting right the way down to the weight I was before my first son!
It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t terrible either. As long as you hold yourself accountable, you can overcome anything.
Take Care Of Yourself!
This one might seem like an odd one out. What on earth does taking care of yourself have to do with being productive? Or more importantly, stopping yourself from being productive?
Think of it this way. If you forgot to put petrol in the car and it broke down, would you blame the car? If you forgot to charge your phone when it flashed low battery and it cut out on you in the middle of a call, would you blame the phone?
Nope, because you know full well that such things need to be maintained, by you, to run properly as and when you need them, right?
Remember that your body is a machine, just like your car. It needs fuel to keep working. You also need to recharge your batteries and let’s face it, give it a good wash regularly to keep things running smoothly!
By failing to take care of yourself you are standing in your own way. You cannot be productive unless you have the energy to do so!
Some of the best ways to gain the time and mindset to make your life productive involve getting up early or doing tasks in the evening for the next day. If you skip breakfast, go to bed late or forget to unplug long enough to relax on a regular basis, you’re going to find the early mornings impossible, the extra effort monumental and over all, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.
If you need to take a step back and work on this before you even try to start getting everything else in order, that’s okay.
Don’t hesitate to take care of yourself first, if you’re not at your full strength, you cannot possibly hope to reach your full potential.
Ask Yourself What You Want To Achieve
This is the big one. I’ll be honest, it’s also the easiest to overlook.
Setting a short-term goal is great; maybe you want to tidy up so that your house looks good for friends coming round at the weekend? Or you want to organise clutter to gain more space? Maybe you want to get on top of that to-do list to allow yourself more relaxation time in the evenings?
These are all great and worthy goals, to be sure. But what about long term? Did you know clutter can negatively affect your mental health?
Did you know having a long-term goal to work towards can help you focus energy to change your behaviour to form more positive habits?
I set myself several goals centered around my blogging. One of them I smashed a month early because I would get up every morning, look at the goal sheet I had stuck to my bedroom wall and remind myself why I was doing this. For peace of mind, for enjoyment, for a better lifestyle.
It is amazing how much strength that long-term goal can give you when you visualise how it could change your life.