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20 Reasons You Will Never Be Productive

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!

      Featured photo credit:

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      Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

      Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

      There’s a dark side to the conveniences of the Digital Age. With smartphones that function like handheld computers, it has become increasingly difficult to leave our work behind. Sometimes it seems like we’re expected to be accessible 24/7.

      How often are you ever focused on just one thing? Most of us try to meet these demands by multi-tasking.

      Many of us have bought into the myth that we can achieve more through multi-tasking. In this article, I’ll show you how you can accomplish more work in less time. Spoiler alert: multi-tasking is not the answer.

      Why is multitasking a myth?

      The term “multi-tasking” was originally used to describe how microprocessors in computers work. Machines multitask, but people cannot.

      Despite our inability to simultaneously perform two tasks at once, many people believe they are excellent multi-taskers.

      You can probably imagine plenty of times when you do several things at once. Maybe you talk on the phone while you’re cooking or respond to emails during your commute.

      Consider the amount of attention that each of these tasks requires. Chances are, at least one of the two tasks in question is simple enough to be carried out on autopilot.

      We’re okay at simultaneously performing simple tasks, but what if you were trying to perform two complex tasks? Can you really work on your presentation and watch a movie at the same time? It can be fun to try to watch TV while you work, but you may be unintentionally making your work more difficult and time-consuming.

      Your brain on multi-tasking

      Your brain wasn’t designed to multi-tasking. To compensate, it will switch from task to task. Your focus turns to whatever task seems more urgent. The other task falls into the background until you realize you’ve been neglecting it.

      When you’re bouncing back and forth like this, an area of the brain known as Broadmann’s Area 10 activates. Located in your fronto-polar prefrontal cortex at the very front of the brain, this area controls your ability to shift focus. People who think they are excellent multitaskers are really just putting Broadmann’s Area 10 to work.

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      But I can juggle multiple tasks!

      You are capable of taking in information with your eyes while doing other things efficiently. Scientifically speaking, making use of your vision is the only thing you can truly do while doing something else.

      For everything else, you’re serial tasking. This constant refocusing can be exhausting, and it prevents us from giving our work the deep attention it deserves.

      Think about how much longer it takes to do something when you have to keep reminding yourself to focus.

      Why multitasking is failing you

      Multitasking does more bad than good to your productivity, here’re 4 reasons why you should stop multitasking:

      Multitasking wastes your time.

      You lose time when you interrupt yourself. People lose an average of 2.1 hours per day getting themselves back on track when they switch between tasks.

      In fact, some studies suggest that doing multiple things at once decreases your productivity by as much as 40%. That’s a significant loss in efficiency. You wouldn’t want your surgeon to be 40% less productive while you’re on the operating table, would you?

      It makes you dumber.

      A distracted brain performs a full 10 IQ points lower than a focused brain. You’ll also be more forgetful, slower at completing tasks, and more likely to make mistakes.

      You’ll have to work harder to fix your mistakes. If you miss an important detail, you could risk injury or fail to complete the task properly.

      This is an emotional response.

      There’s so much data suggesting that multitasking is ineffective but people insist that they can multitask.

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      Feeling productive fulfills an emotional need. We want to feel like we’re accomplishing something. Why accomplish just one item on the to-do list when you can check off two or three?

      It’ll wear you out.

      When you’re jumping from task to task, it can feel invigorating for a little while. Over time, this needs to fill every second with more and more work leads to burn out.

      We’re simply not built to multitask, so when we try, the effect can be exhausting. This destroys your productivity and your motivation.

      How to stop multitasking and work productively

      Flitting back and forth between tasks feels second-nature after a while. This is in part because Broadmann’s Area 10 becomes better at serial tasking through time.

      In addition to changing how the brain works, this serial tasking behavior can quickly turn into a habit.

      Just like any bad habit, you’ll need to recognize that you need to make a change first. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to adjust to a lifestyle of productive mono-tasking:

      1. Consciously change gears

      Instead of trying to work on two distinct tasks at once, consider setting up a system to remind you when to change focus. This technique worked for Jerry Linenger, an American astronaut onboard the space station, Mir.

      As an astronaut, he had many things to take care of every day. He set alarms for himself on a few watches. When a particular watch sounded, he knew it was time to switch tasks. This enabled him to be 100% in tune with what he was doing at any given moment.

      This strategy is effective because the alarm served as his reminder for what was to come next. Linenger’s intuition about setting reminders falls in line with research conducted by Paul Burgess of University College, London on multitasking.

      2. Manage multiple tasks without multitasking

      Raj Dash of Performancing.com has an effective strategy for balancing multiple projects without multitasking. He suggests taking 15 minutes to acquaint yourself with a new project before moving on to other work. Revisit the project later and do about thirty minutes on research and brainstorming.

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      Allow a few days to pass before knocking out the project in question. While you were actively work on other projects, your brain continues to problem solve-in the background.

      This method works because it gives us the opportunity to work on several projects without allowing them to compete for your attention.

      3. Set aside distractions

      Your smartphone, your inbox and the open tabs on your computer are all open invitations for distraction. Give yourself time each day when you silence your notifications, close your inbox and remove unnecessary tabs from your desktop.

      If you want to focus, you can’t give anything else an opportunity to invade your mental space.

      Emails can be particularly invasive because they often have an unnecessary sense of urgency associated with them. Some work cultures stress the importance of prompt responses to these messages, but we can’t treat every situation like an emergency.

      Designate certain times in your day for checking and responding to emails to avoid compulsive checking.

      4. Take care of yourself

      We often blame electronics for pulling us from our work, but sometimes our physical body forces us into a state of serial tasking. If you’re hungry while you’re trying to work, your attention will flip between your hunger and your work until you take care of your physical needs.

      Try to take all your bio-breaks before you sit down for an uninterrupted stint of work.

      In addition, you’ll also want to be sure you’re attending to your health in a broader sense. Getting enough exercise, practicing mindfulness and incorporating regular breaks into your day will keep you from being tempted by distractions.

      5. Take a break

      People are more likely to head to YouTube or check their social media when they need a break. Instead of trying to work and watch a mindless video at the same time, give yourself times when you’re allowed to enjoy your distracting activity of choice.

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      Limit how much time you’ll spend on this break so that your guilt-free distraction time doesn’t turn into hours of wasted time.

      6. Make technology your ally

      Scientists are beginning to discover the detrimental effects of chronic serial tasking on our brains. Some companies are developing programs to curb this desire to multitask.

      Apps like Forest turn staying focused into a game. Extensions like RescueTime help you track your online habits so that you can be more aware of how you spend your time.

      The key to productivity: Focus

      Multitasking is not the key to productivity. It’s far better to schedule time to focus on each task than it is to try to do everything at once.

      Make use of the methods outlined above and prepare to be more effective and less exhausted in the process.

      If you want to learn more about how to focus, don’t miss my other article:

      How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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