I love days when I’m productive! Checking things off my to-do list; accomplishing things that I’ve wanted to do for awhile.
But there are days when I can’t seem to complete – or even start – a project. I look at my list, groan and turn away. Sometimes I think, “If I could just organize my desk I’d know what to do next.”
So what makes one day different than another?
1. Distractions. We’re in the Information Age and it can feel overwhelming at times. I don’t know about you, but I’m big on thinking I’m just going to check my email or Facebook and an hour (or more) later, I’ve gone down many a rabbit trail, feel like I’ve done a lot, but my list is still staring at me.
Why do I feel like I need to read it all, learn it all, absorb it all? It’s impossible to keep up. Seriously. It’s NOT possible.
Besides, being productive is a choice. So is being nonproductive. They aren’t distractions, are they, if we chose to go down those rabbit trails?
Reclaim your productive time. Schedule time for email or Facebook and also schedule time for the tasks at hand. Don’t put yourself in a place where you feel guilty about not getting your work done. But don’t feel guilty about socializing either. Maybe set a timer; when it goes off, work on your list.
2. You’re avoiding the work
Sometimes a project is overwhelming because I THINK it’s going to be a big task, that’s it’s going to take me a long time. So I procrastinate, thinking that I need a block of time, or a quiet time. Funny thing is, when I do finally do it, it often takes me only 15 minutes to do it. Then I laugh at myself for making a mountain out of a molehill.
If you’re in a negative state of mind, chances are you’re focusing on yourself instead of the project. You may be thinking about your problems, shortcomings, or frustrations. Find something positive to think about and you can push through those negative feelings. I love listening to Pandora. When I’m feeling stressed, I put on soothing piano music; when I want a pick-me-up, I put on New Age or Reggae. You get to choose!
3. You’re afraid to start the work (because you might make a mistake)
You might not be productive because you’re afraid that you will do something wrong. It makes you feel anxious, and maybe not confident of your abilities. And it stops you from moving forward.
It’s ok to make mistakes; that’s how we learn. It isn’t a matter of IF you will make a mistake, but rather WHEN. Take it in stride. It’s not the end of the world.
The reason you’re not as productive as you’d like to be is probably not that you’re too busy. It’s probably not the distractions (distractions can be a good thing as well). Most likely, you chose not to be productive.
One last thing. Plan a distraction. And then get back to work.