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Want A Productive Day But End Up Wasting It? Here Are 3 Obstacles You Need To Remove

Want A Productive Day But End Up Wasting It? Here Are 3 Obstacles You Need To Remove

Remember all those times you wanted to get back in shape and you told yourself, “I’ll start Monday”?

Sunday night rolls around, you set your alarm, it goes off in the AM, it’s earlier than you would normally get up so you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your social media and the next thing you know, two hours have passed by and now you have no desire to go to the gym. The day comes to a close and you find yourself wondering at what point in the day your desire to be productive dwindled away.

Sound familiar? Well, there can be quite a few contributing factors that can affect your productivity and end up wasting the day away.

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3 Obstacles You Need To Remove for A More Productive Day

1. Optimism

You have a day off from work coming up so you plan ahead all the things you want to get done that day with the intention of tackling them all. The day comes and you realize that one of the things on your list is taking much longer to get done than you had anticipated, and you realize that there just aren’t enough hours in a day to get it all finished.

Being optimistic is a great quality to have, however, it will really get in the way sometimes when you’re trying to get a laundry list of tasks done in a short 24-time window.

2. Distractions

When you have a task to complete but there is no one around to check up on your progress or put pressure on you, probably you’ll end up procrastinating and allowing yourself to become distracted. You get distracted by the computer or your phone checking social media and sending texts back and forth you aren’t getting anything done. Pay attention to the people that you are surrounded by as well as your distractions. These play a big part in whatever environment you are in.

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3. Being overwhelmed

You wake up ready to take on the day and crush your tasks. You sit down to eat your breakfast and suddenly you start thinking about all the things you need to do that need to be done that day. Suddenly, your anxiety sets in and you’re extremely overwhelmed. You feel that you just won’t get everything done, and you start feeling discouraged. So as the day progresses, you start losing your motivation to get anything done that all you have to show for yourself is a half-completed task in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

Whether you want to admit it to yourself or not, we have all done these things at one point or another. You are probably wondering what you can do to help overcome some of these issues, and it really can be quite simple.

3 Ways to Overcome these Obstacles

1. Shorten your to-do list

Realize and accept that you only have 24 hours in a day. It sounds like a lot, but when you have a million things to do it isn’t. Then also realize that you are a human being and not superman/woman. Think about what needs to be done and what you want to get done. By doing this, you’re surely going to cut that list in half.

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2. Start a routine

Once you get yourself into a routine, you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is for you to stay on task. For example, if you want to get back in shape, get yourself in a good morning routine to get ready for your trip to the gym. Instead of checking your phone when you wake up, get up and take a big stretch, walk to the bathroom and brush your teeth, wash your face, and change into your gym clothes.

Make yourself some breakfast and head out the door. Doing this every single day will eventually become a habit to the point where if you missed something in your routine, something would just feel off.

3. Put your phone down

Put down those cell phones! More often than not, our phones can be one of the biggest reasons we lose our motivation because they are so distracting.

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You wake up in the morning and one of the first things you do is pick up your phone and check your social media apps instead of getting up right away and getting things done. You get caught up in the motion of checking the same apps, refreshing, and scrolling. It happens.

When it’s time to get something done and you know you need to focus, put your phone out of reach so you don’t get the itch to pick it up. Leave it in your car, your purse, at home. When you start doing this you’ll begin to realize how much more you can get done when you aren’t constantly being distracted by what’s happening on your phone.

Featured photo credit: https://www.understood.org via understood.org

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Erica Wagner

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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