Why You’re Not As Productive As You Should Be (And How To Change That)
My favorite fun fact to remind people of is that Elon Musk has six kids. I don’t do it randomly, that would be super weird. Rather, I use it as a friendly reminder that we all have the same 24 hours in a day. And if a single man can revolutionize the way we exchange currency for stuff on eBay, usher in the silent car era and still find time to blow up a few rockets on his way to Mars, all while raising a family, then you probably don’t have a time problem. You have a productivity problem. Our ability to use our waking hours in the most productive manner is the greatest hindrance to realizing our goals. Not lack of resources, not a dearth of education.
It’s understandable, in a world increasingly full of distraction, that it takes a near herculean effort to put our best foot forward in that department, but that doesn’t make the threat of wasted time any less real. And while the battle for time efficiency may never cease entirely, there are plenty of safeguards we can implement to systematize our efforts. Here are a few simple, practical ways to up your productivity and stave off waste.
Minimize Your Priorities
In his book 18 Minutes, Peter Bregman gives phenomenal insight on how to efficiently prioritize and focus on the things that matter to you most. Start with five major prioritizes for the year, two that deal your business, two with your relationships, and one just for you. When preparing for each day, divide your tasks among these categories and keep track of them as you knock them out. Anything that stays on your list for more than three days must be completed immediately or reconsidered as a true priority.
Keeping a visual inventory of your important tasks will reinforce their meaning and challenge you to face the most difficult ones head on.
Capture Your Creativity
With white noise blaring at us all day it can be difficult to harness our creativity when it strikes. Whether it’s a hard notepad, your phone or whatever instrument fits your needs, record your thoughts as they come and catalogue them away for when they’re needed. Our best ideas tend to hit us without warning. Don’t count on them being there when you need them with, be intentional and preserve them.
Block Out Distractions
Erase the apps you don’t need, close the browser tab with your email and just get to work. The number one killer of productivity is completely avoidable distraction that we bring on ourselves. Remember what you’re working towards and don’t get sidetracked with things that don’t speak to your ultimate vision.
Keep Your Time Top of Mind
Try setting a timer to go off each hour. When it does, take a moment to reflect on the past sixty minutes. Ask yourself how you would rate your productivity, how your actions have spoken to your ultimate goals. Reminding yourself of the fleeting nature of time will keep you committed to maximizing it.
The modern world is practically tailor-made to suck up as many of your productive hours as it possibly can with and endless stream of allurement. Making the conscious admittance that your willpower alone is not enough to combat the white noise is the first step in turning the tides against it. Stop letting time slip away and start implementing.
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It’s a weird dynamic, this relationship we have with failure. We love stories about it. No one likes a movie where the main character succeeds unchecked. We like the struggle, the adversity. It inspires us, reminds us of what’s possible. But that’s when someone else is the subject. That’s when someone else is going through it. When it comes to our lives, every failure makes us question how much we really value the outcome. How much do we really want to succeed?
The fact is, just about everyone desires to be in better shape, to be healthier in some way, and knows, with at least some certainty, the steps they need to take to accomplish their goals. Lack of education isn’t why we fail. But it’s also not because we set our sights too high. Most of us just want to look good in the mirror, that’s a completely realistic goal. If anything, we give up because we know we can do it.
It’s fundamentally difficult, with so much distraction and opportunity, to find the time to get it all in every day. To truly be productive and not just busy. So, what’s the solution? How do we get back to a place where we’re not constantly being pulled in a million different directions? Where the day doesn’t waste away behind the steady flow of new and completely irrelevant stimulants being thrown at us non-stop? The answer is simple addition by subtraction.
It’s understandable, in a world increasingly full of distraction, that it takes a near herculean effort to put our best foot forward in that department, but that doesn’t make the threat of wasted time any less real.
And while the battle for time efficiency may never cease entirely, there are plenty of safeguards we can implement to systematize our efforts.
Here are a few simple, practical ways to up your productivity and stave off waste.
It’s 3 A.M. and you’re doing that thing where you look at the clock and think about how many hours of sleep you’ll get if