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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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      Last Updated on March 21, 2019

      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

      Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

      You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

      But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

      To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

      It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

      “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

      The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

      In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

      Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

      1. Start Small

      The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

      Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

      Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

      Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

      Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

      Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

      It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

      Do less today to do more in a year.

      2. Stay Small

      There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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      But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

      If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

      When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

      I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

      Why?

      Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

      The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

      Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

      3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

      No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

      There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

      What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

      Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

      This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

      This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

      4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

      When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

      There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

      Peter Drucker said,

      “What you track is what you do.”

      So track it to do it — it really helps.

      But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

      5. Measure Once, Do Twice

      Peter Drucker also said,

      “What you measure is what you improve.”

      So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

      For reading, it’s 20 pages.
      For writing, it’s 500 words.
      For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
      For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

      Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

      6. All Days Make a Difference

      Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

      Will two? They won’t.

      Will three? They won’t.

      Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

      What happened? Which one made you fit?

      The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

      No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

      7. They Are Never Fully Automated

      Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

      But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

      What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

      It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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      The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

      It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

      It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

      8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

      Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

      Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

      When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

      The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

      Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

      9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

      The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

      Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

      You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

      But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

      So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

      If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

      This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

      The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

      Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

      10. Punish Yourself

      Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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      I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

      It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

      You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

      No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

      The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

      But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

      11. Reward Yourself

      When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

      Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

      The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

      After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

      If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

      Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

      If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

      In the End, It Matters

      What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

      When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

      And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

      “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

      Keep going.

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      More Resources to Help You Build Habits

      Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
      [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
      [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
      [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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