We all struggle with productivity; our lives are packed with deadlines, pressure, work, people who depend on us… and sometimes it feels impossible to juggle everything and remain sane. Here we look at the top five things blocking our productivity, with some tips to overcome them.
Not having a plan
When was the last time you gave yourself the time to actually look forward in your life? Do you know what you want to achieve? You may not be able to say what you want in ten years’ time, but what about in three years, one year or even next month?!
So, decide on the time frame you want to identify your goal for and spend a few hours, maybe with a glass of wine and a notebook pondering the question:
‘What am I trying to achieve…and why?’
It’s a hugely powerful question for planning. Focus on what’s really important - your meaningful priorities.
Revisit this regularly, update it and edit it, but keep your plan at the forefront of your mind. It’s yours, and you CAN achieve it.
Then get yourself into the habit of planning your week on a Sunday evening - this is the key to making sure that you start your week well and hit the ground running.
Plan your day the evening before. At the end of the day, you’re usually very clear about what still needs to be done, what the priorities are, and what tomorrow’s goal will be.
Make a to-do list. It sounds simple, but actually writing your tasks down takes so much pressure off your mind, and we all feel energised after a peaceful night’s sleep!
Trying to do too much!
We are all guilty of this. We have our minds so full of the day to day, whizzing from one task to another, that our mind is a blur and despite our best efforts we miss things, or do half a job before picking up on something more pressing, being unproductive. We do it at work, we do it at home… The answer? FOCUS.
DO the things that absolutely have to get done now, this morning, today. Do them methodically, one at a time. Do not allow yourself to get distracted, this only puts you back and builds on your stress. You don’t need that.
Add tasks on to the end that can get done anytime, and ignore them until you do have time, or DITCH them altogether, to free your mind a little. Ask yourself – is this essential, now? Be strict with yourself!
DELEGATE where you can to save yourself some energy. Only you know who could help with which things, and just as you would help others, they will surprise you (more often than not) with their willingness to help you.
Putting off the inevitable
Know your peak time of day. When are you most productive? Then, identify the thing that you’ve been putting off, the thing that you don't necessarily want to do, but that’s weighing you down mentally.
Schedule it in for your most productive time of day. For me, that’s first thing in the morning. I call my undesirable task ‘eating the frog.’ I just get it straight out of the way, and the day feels so much easier after that. Trust me, eat your frog! This will dramatically reduce your procrastination time :)
Not taking time for yourself/giving yourself enough credit
You are your most valuable asset. Your mind deserves rest and TLC. Your body too. Set aside some time each day where you allow yourself to switch off.
Take at least 30 minutes exercise a day - even if it’s just a walk down the road and back - and drinking plenty of water. I am no scientist, but I can testify to the power of a lunchtime walk for clearing your head and setting you up for a productive afternoon.
Reflection is a tremendous skill, but make sure that you don’t dwell on the negatives. Look at what you have achieved, and boost your productivity with rewarding thoughts rather than putting yourself down – this is a hard cycle to break but positive thinking is such a powerful thing!
Not being able to ask for help
I am as guilty of this as anyone. We all want to be Superwoman. Indestructible. But guess what? We are all human. It is OK to feel overwhelmed, to feel panicked by the mountain that is facing us. It is normal. It is so much stronger to be able to take a step back and identify the fact that we need help than to struggle on.
Use your support network. They want to help you and they want to see you succeed. Ask for help to avoid burnout and exhaustion. Your mental health depends on this.
Thank those who’ve helped you, but make sure to celebrate all of your wins, no matter how small they are. Acknowledge yourself and the effort you put in and help yourself see the progress you have made.
You’ve got this.
Marianne is the bestselling author of Simple, Logical, Repeatable and the founder of the McFreedom System. You can find out more at https://www.mariannepage.co.uk
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