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10 Ways To Get Out Of Your Own Way And Get Things Done

10 Ways To Get Out Of Your Own Way And Get Things Done

You probably have plenty of reasons why you don’t get things done. Many of them are outside of your control. But instead of focusing on things you can’t control, focus on the biggest barrier, the one which you have the most control over: you.

You’re probably standing in your own way, so here are 10 things that will help you get out of your own way. Even if you do only three, you’ll finally be able to get things done.

1. Remember why you are doing it

Knowing why you are doing something is critical to getting it done. Humans hate doing things for no reason. Whether it’s washing the dishes, starting a business or filling out job applications, it must contribute to some larger purpose. If it doesn’t, quit doing it.

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    2. Think about the outcome

    What are you going to get from doing this thing? When you don’t feel like doing it, focus on the outcome you’re seeking. Think about how that outcome will make your life better, no matter how big or small the improvement is. If that outcome doesn’t excite you, that’s probably why you aren’t doing it. Cross it off the list.

    3. Focus on the important stuff

    Nothing will drain your energy faster than working on or putting off tedious things that won’t move you toward your goal. For example, if you’re starting a business, stop moving commas and periods around in your business plan and go out and talk to some prospects. Sell something or get feedback to improve. Focusing on what will make a difference will motivate you and skyrocket your results.

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      4. Listen to music

      There’s a reason music is so popular. It has a huge effect on how you feel. Use it as a tool to change your mood to whatever you want it to be. Create a playlist of songs that motivate the crap out of you. Play it while you work and while you procrastinate.

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      5. When you get tired, move around

      Do some jumping jacks, some simple exercises, or (my personal favorite) just dance like an idiot for a few minutes. Despite common beliefs, you actually get energy from being active. Your body did not evolve to sit at a computer and work for hours at a time. You can do it, but you have to work to create the energy. Combine with point #4 for accelerated results.

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        6. When you get frustrated, meditate

        You’re probably thinking too much. Calm down. Sit in a comfortable spot, relax and take some deep breaths to clear your mind for 10 minutes. If you really want to boost your productivity, meditate before you get frustrated in order to keep your mind clear, stay relaxed and avoid the frustration that stops you from getting things done.

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        7. Stop comparing yourself to other people

        You know the feeling. You’re working on something and you suddenly stop in despair because you realize it’s not going to be as good as [insert celebrity, colleague, friend, relative] would do it. It stops you in your tracks. You say to yourself, “Why bother? It’s going to suck anyway.” First, this is probably not true. You are probably just as good or better than that person. Second, even if you can’t do it as well as that person, no problem. This is practice to make you better. Either way, there’s no reason to stop.

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          8. Give up the ridiculous idea of perfection

          Perfection is a theoretical concept that does not exist in reality. You are probably waiting until the conditions are just right for it to be perfect. It will never be. That’s cool. You only have two choices: imperfect or nothing. Stop waiting to learn one more thing, get one more opinion, or make one last tweak. Just be OK with imperfection.

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          9. Pat yourself on the back — a lot

          Your need for instant gratification is probably keeping you from getting things done. You’re jumping over to Facebook to see if anyone has commented on your status, or checking Twitter for an endorphin rush. You’ll probably get it there. But if you read this far, you want to get things done. Instead of turning to social media for instant gratification, tell yourself how awesome you are after you accomplish each little thing. I’m doing that after I write each of these 10 things. It works.

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            10. Help someone else

            We love to help each other. It’s addictive for humans. When you are working on a project and just can’t seem to move forward, pick up the phone and call someone you can help. Offer some advice, feedback or expertise. This will give you a feeling of accomplishment. You’ll feel good about yourself and happy that you’ve contributed to someone else’s life. That’s a much better endorphin source than Facebook.

            There are always external things you can’t control. They suck, but focusing on them won’t do any good. Focus on any three of these 10 things to get more done and feel better about what you have accomplished.

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            The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

            The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

            It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

            Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

            “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

            In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

            New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

            There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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            So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

            What is the productivity paradox?

            There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

            In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

            He wrote in his conclusion:

            “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

            Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

            How do we measure productivity anyway?

            And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

            In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

            But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

            In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

            But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

            Possible causes of the productivity paradox

            Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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            • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
            • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
            • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
            • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

            There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

            According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

            Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

            The paradox and the recession

            The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

            “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

            This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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            According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

            Looking forward

            A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

            “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

            Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

            “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

            On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

            Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

            Reference

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