Are you productive? Don’t read further until you have your answer. Okay, you’re probably not as productive as you should be.
Here’s the thing: Achieving productivity goes beyond working long hours on end.
It involves overcoming the distractions and efficiently managing the million tasks that just won’t go away.
Now, I’m a productivity freak. Every day, I ask myself, “Adenike, what did you achieve today? How much of your to-do list did you accomplish?”
Such evaluation gives me a level of fulfillment irrespective of how little progress I might record.
Most days, I don’t exhaust my to-do list, but I achieve at least 60% of it. And this gives me joy. Great joy!
In this post, you’ll find out some of the most common reasons why you aren’t as productive as you should be. I call these drawbacks “productivity traps”. And that’s because many of us fall into them without even knowing.
From multitasking, spending so much time on our phones, to failing to be organized, we all create our own “not productive” stories.
Let’s get started.
Why are You Not Productive?
Have you heard the saying that women are made to multitask while men struggle at it?
I once believed this until I read a Forbes article about how our brain isn’t shaped to do many tasks at once.
Trying to achieve so many things at the same time can reduce your concentration and limit your productivity.
As a woman, I often wonder about this: when I’m in the kitchen, I can cook two soups at the same time. So, the question is: are there things we can perform simultaneously?
Yes, there are. You could brush your teeth while picking your clothes for the day. But this doesn’t apply to more brain-tasking activities.
If you really want to fix an assignment or write a code, you wouldn’t try to shave your beards at the same time.
2. Being Disorganized
I know people who say they prefer their space scattered and unarranged, as it allows them to find things easily.
While this philosophy may hold true for some people, the reality with keeping cluttered space is that your brain also stays cluttered. When your work desk is frequently littered with papers and books, you might end up feeling fuzzy or confused about details.
For one, I enjoy rearranging and redesigning spaces. From childhood, I’ve loved decluttering spaces and rearranging for the sake of freshness and new designs.
Besides, I get tired of seeing things look the same way. So if you’re like me, there are chances that you would rearrange your bookshelf many times in one year.
When your workspace or work area is well arranged, you get to be more productive.
3. Social Media Distractions
One of the biggest productivity traps is the technological gift of the social media.
Many people wake up most days and the first thing they pick up is their phone. They head to Instagram for the latest videos and posts or check Twitter to join the latest trends.
For others, the first duty is to check and respond to WhatsApp messages or view the never ending status photos and videos.
Facebook also makes life fun because we often get to see what’s happening in other people’s world.
Now, while these platforms are great for networking, connecting with our loved ones, and getting news updates, getting addicted to them can be awful.
From my experience, Twitter can be pretty addictive. The stories never end. The tweets keep getting updated.
On WhatsApp, groups can keep you engaged all day. Even friends can raise arguments that’d keep you entangled and insisting on your opinion.
However, I learned to control these distractions by following Tim Ferris’ advice. He suggested the following in a Forbes post about time management I read earlier this year:
- Learn to say NO to tasks that add no value to you
- Create a to-do list Box for urgent tasks, tasks that need to be scheduled, tasks you can delegate, and tasks that aren’t worth your while
- Set a time for social media
- Eliminate distractions by turning off your notifications, putting your phone on airplane mode, closing tabs on your computer, using earplugs, and closing your door
- Focusing on one thing at a time
- Discover your peak period and do most of your work during that time
- Take breaks to recharge.
If you really want to become more productive and achieve your goals, you would consider integrating these tips into your own life.
Additionally, don’t get so engrossed with the people in your “digital life” that you shut out the real people in your “real life.”
4. Spending Time with People that Add No Value to You
There’s no denying the fact that productivity means nothing to some people.
While you might have goals and big dreams, some people are just there hanging and allowing life happen to them.
If you spend your day with such people, you might end up becoming like them. Now it’s true that you could influence them. But it’s also highly possible that you’d pick up their sluggishness and laxity about life.
In the long run, you might end up not only not achieving your goals, but also losing your purpose.
Identify the people in your life who you spend valuable time gossiping or jesting with, and get ready to make changes. You might not cut them off all at once but you can begin to find new friends or colleagues with a higher return on investment, as Lisa Nichols would say.
5. Poor Planning
We often hear the saying “you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Sometimes, things may go wrong despite your “perfect” plans. Things won’t always go as planned.
Nevertheless, the key is to plan strategically. How much time do you need to achieve your goal?
When I write articles, I allot time to building the idea, jotting it, writing it down, editing, and publishing.
You need to understand the processes involved in being productive with your work.
Whether you work in a corporation or you run your own business, you need to get real about planning your tasks. Know your goals and discover the tactics you need to get them in real-life.
6. Being Superman/Wonder Woman
I once believed that not asking for help meant I was self-sufficient and capable. In fact, I loved the feeling of doing several tough tasks and feeling like Wonder Woman.
But I soon realized that trying to save the world won’t actually make you the hero. You become a hero when you commit to one thing and realize it successfully.
To illustrate, for the last 25 days, I haven’t uploaded a new post. I’ve beat myself several times about this and felt bad about disappointing my readers.
But the truth remains that I wasn’t up to it for a while. As a matter of fact, I started writing the post about my best 12 books (which I promised in my last post about gratitude). However, I still haven’t gone past the introduction.
While you might call this writer’s block, I call it “my off Super Woman mode.” I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that it’s important to take a break. Everything else can wait.
The world isn’t going anywhere, and your goals won’t kill you for not achieving them on your own timeline.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should get lax and unmotivated. It, however, means that you can’t do everything. And you need other people.
And if you realize there’s no one immediately present to “wear your shoes,” don’t wear the shoes for a while. You’ll come back better, especially when you use the “off time” to build yourself in other ways.
7. Neglecting Goal Setting
Working smarter is the new way to attain productivity.
It’s no longer about working harder or working longer. And you neglect goal setting when you don’t use the myriads of productivity apps available today.
From RescueTime to 30/30, you get access to time management apps that help you to work efficiently.
Are you looking to work for a specified time and get prompted to take a break? 30/30 would do that for you.
Do you need to track your work habits and lifestyle? RescueTime provides various plans that would fit your needs.
The Bottom Line
I’ve tried to discuss the common productivity traps that many of us fall into, sometimes without even knowing.
Stop trying to save the world. Delegate some of your work. Use productivity tools or productive apps to record higher progress throughout your day.
Get sufficient sleep, hangout breaks, and other relaxation moments.
Create a time within the day to check social media. Don’t make your phone the first or last thing in your life. Reading a book can be a good way to divert the energy.
Do one thing at a time. Also, write easy and clear to-do lists every night before you go to bed and try to keep your workspace organized.
Finally, plan your goals. Start small and work toward the bigger dream. In the long run, you’d become as productive as you should be.
Which of these productivity traps have you ever fallen into? Which of them are you still in? What are your plans to get out?
I’d love to read from you.
Till you read from me again,