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20 Reasons You Will Never Be Productive

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20 Reasons You Will Never Be Productive

Chances are you’ve found yourself behind on your deadlines, procrastinating in your work, or just failing to get much accomplished during your day. If you’re anything like me, the desire to be productive is not just a good idea, it’s an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, unless you’re taking deliberate steps to increase your output, you may be sabotaging your own ability to accomplish your goals. Here are twenty reasons why you may be spinning your wheels in the productivity department.

1. You fail to develop productive habits

In the April 2014 edition of Success Magazine, editor Daren Hardy confesses that some of the most productive people are actually lazy. He attributes their ultimate success to their ability to develop and maintain disciplines, routines, and habits that help them accomplish their desired goals. If your daily routines fail to go beyond waking up and brushing your teeth, chances are you’ll never reach your productivity potential.

2. You have no sense of urgency

crossed feet

    Have you ever noticed that the people who seem to get the most accomplished always seem to be in a hurry to get things done? I learned this lesson from Jim Rohn, who said, “Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.” No sense of urgency to get something done right now? No problem. Just don’t expect to have a greater desire to do it later.

    3. You relish procrastination

    Speaking of procrastination, this one almost goes without saying. Believe it or not, procrastination itself is not necessarily detrimental. The problem comes when procrastination becomes the expected outcome and, as such, the goal. People who enjoy procrastination more than the satisfaction of an otherwise completed task will not seek to be productive and, hence, never will be.

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    4. You don’t have a big enough “Why”

    Simon Sinek, in his bestselling book Start With Why, proposes that if you don’t have a big why–a big enough reason to inspire you to action–you’re essentially at risk of just going through the motions. No risk of productivity there.

    5. You’re too comfortable

    My good friend and motivational coach Eric Thomas tells the story of a young man who asked a guru how to be great. The guru led the young man to a body of water and held the young man’s head under for a significant period of time. “What did you want more than anything when your head was under the water?” “Only to breathe,” answered the young man. The guru replied, “When you want to succeed as badly as you wanted to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” The same principle applies when accomplishing any task. Unless accomplishing that task is as important to you as breathing air when you’re drowning, you’re liable to suffocate in a sea of excuses where productivity is sure to die.

    6. You think that productivity has to do with inborn talents, gifts, intelligence, or resources

    Contrary to popular belief, leaders are not only born, but can, in fact, be made. While these inborn gifts can obviously help in the productivity department, there are tons of templates, tools and apps for those of us that weren’t born with a productivity spoon in our mouths.

    7. You don’t surround yourself with productive people
    Flying Birds

      Jim Rohn has a great metric for assessing your immediate potential. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If you’re struggling with productivity, so are the people around you, and you know what they say about birds of a feather flocking together. When you’re serious about upping your productive-game, you’ll find those people that will support you and keep you accountable. Until then, just take a look at your surroundings and you’ll know what to expect from yourself.

      8. You don’t have strong enough goals

      “A goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot.” Joe Vitale

      Of course you know that a goal is a desired result or outcome, but unless you subscribe to Joe Vitale’s philosophy of what a goal should do for you, it’s possible that you’re not getting the most out of your aspirations. When you give yourself big goals to work towards, you gain several advantages that not only propel you towards the goals themselves, but help you to be more effective in the process.

      9. You don’t value your contribution or influence

      While we all have different motivators, most of us don’t want to be seen as non-performing, or as the cause of someone else’s decline. The truth is that most of us don’t consider much of what we do (or don’t do) as significantly impacting another’s world. So what if you don’t send that invoice today? Who cares if you never post that article? Maybe no one will notice if you take an extra hour for lunch. But each decision to slack off in one area ultimately impacts another area, and another person’s life–usually more significantly than you might ever realize.

      10. You don’t plan to be productive

      You know the old saying: “when you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Nowhere is this statement more relevant than in the area of productivity. For most of us, the ability to be productive doesn’t just “happen”; it has to be planned. It has to be scheduled and that schedule has to be followed (no surprise there). When you’re aiming to get something done, a good rule of thumb is to plan the night before, making sure that you prepare for all those things that usually distract you. Make a checklist, that way you’ll have zero excuses and can produce to your heart’s content.

      11. You’re not organized and you refuse to get help

      The fact that one’s level of organization is directly related to one’s ability to be productive is an understatement. Those minutes you spend looking for a working pen or trying to remember where you saved that file are all directly impacting the time and focus you have to be productive. Here’s a tip (and this goes with #10 above): if you’re not the intrinsically organized type, find a friend who is and get her to help you get organized. If you give yourself at least a solid week to focus solely on this task, you’ll be surprised and delighted at the results of your efforts in the weeks that follow. Barring that super-organized friend, you can always find tips and videos to help out.

      12. You allow or tolerate distractions

      Believe it or not, you do not have to answer that phone. The world will not collapse if you don’t check your email each time you get a new message. Distractions come in all shapes and sizes, from crying babies to ringing alarms. While we can expect them, the trick is to not give them permission to derail us from our goals. When you’re serious about being productive, you’ll turn off that phone, block that Facebook, and give the baby his bottle before he loses his cool.

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      13. You lack focus

      Years ago I had a coach who gave me a scenario that, to this day, helps me to focus at any time. He asked me to imagine sitting at a table with the person I loved the most. Then he asked me to imagine that person losing his life if I failed to accomplish my goal within an allotted period of time. The truth is, many of us are “focused” on several things, and that’s a sure-fire way to focus on nothing at all and directly thwart any hope of being productive. If you need a quick focusing hack for yourself, choose one goal or task and pay attention to that one thing like the life of your loved one depends on it. Get fully engaged. This means no multitasking and no distractions. Once complete, repeat with your next task and reap the productivity rewards.

      14. You spend more time focusing on the problem than on the solution

      We can all see that someone spilled the milk, but spending an hour talking about the time of day in which it was spilled, the type of milk (was it 2% or whole?), or the trajectory of the milk as it spilled does nothing to help clean up the mess that was made when it spilled. This is an example of how many of us waste precious time talking about the problem rather than the solution. This doesn’t mean that we don’t take some time to understand the problem. Understanding the problem means we’ll be less likely to have the same challenges in the future. But most of us could dramatically increase our productivity by actually working on the solution…and you wonder why there’s still a mess on the floor.

      15. You confuse being busy with being productive

      Remember that milk analogy? Well, moving the spilled milk around the floor with a broom won’t help to clean it up either. That is to say that just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive. Often “being busy” is exactly what ends up happening. If you have a deadline you need to meet, simply moving papers or people around won’t get you any closer to your goal than sweeping spilled milk will get your floor cleaned.

      16. You don’t manage your energy state well

      Tony Robbins attributes his ability to focus and have the success he does to one thing: his ability to manage and manipulate his state. He explains “state” as how you are feeling at any given time. Sometimes you may be in a nervous state; other times you may be in an excited state. The trick, he says, is to practice moving yourself from one state to another, and this can be learned successfully over time. Feeling sluggish? Imagine you’re about to run towards someone you love and haven’t seen in years. Getting anxious? Maybe you need to quiet your mind and meditate. Whatever your process, know that it is possible for you to control your body, mind, and energy for maximum productivity results.

      17. You don’t take time to decompress and relax

      If you’re not taking time to care for your mental and emotional health, it’s going to show up in your ability to be productive (and by “ability”, I mean “inability). For some this might look like taking a long walk, for others it might look like taking a nap, and for the vast majority of us, it probably looks like a three week vacation from it all. When you make relaxation and play a part of your daily routine, not only do you find more joy in your tasks, you’ll find that you get more done when you get back to work.

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      18. You don’t put the right food in your body to feed your brain

      You know the old saying “you are what you eat,” but are you eating the types of foods that will feed your brain for productivity? Just like a vehicle requires specific fuel to be efficient, your brain and body require certain foods to be optimally productive. Even the slightest changes in diet can have significant effects. So what’s in your diet?

      19. You don’t know your 80/20 productivity ratio

      It’s said that 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts, but unless you know which 20% of your efforts are producing the 80% of results that you want, chances are you’ll forever be in the dark and lose out on opportunities to increase your productivity. It may take some experimenting and testing, but when you finally understand where all that energy has been going, you might even be able to boost your productivity by, let’s say, 80%.

      20. You spend more time preparing than doing

      As necessary and worthwhile as it is to take time to prepare to execute your desired outcome, there comes a point where you’ve got to, in the famous words of Nike, “just do it.” Because at the end of the day, no amount of preparation or training is going to get you to the finish line until you begin. So now that you’ve come to the end of this post, you’ve got nothing else stopping you. Get to work!

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      Last Updated on October 21, 2021

      How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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      How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

      Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

      Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

      The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

      Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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      Program Your Own Algorithms

      Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

      Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

      By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

      How to Form a Ritual

      I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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      Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

      1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
      2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
      3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
      4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

      Ways to Use a Ritual

      Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

      1. Waking Up

      Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

      2. Web Usage

      How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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      3. Reading

      How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

      4. Friendliness

      Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

      5. Working

      One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

      6. Going to the gym

      If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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      7. Exercise

      Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

      8. Sleeping

      Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

      8. Weekly Reviews

      The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

      Final Thoughts

      We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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      More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

       

      Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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