I often fall into these traps for failing at productivity, but being aware of them helps me overcome them and get more organized.
At the beginning of the year, we’re all about productivity, right?? We make promises that we’re going to get our act together and get more done. And then…life happens. The kids are back in school, which seems like a good thing. We can get back into our weekly routine. Right? But with our routine comes extra kids activities. Less time at home. Overwhelm sets in.
Suddenly, productivity goes out the window.
It’s a viscious cycle every year. The other day, I decided to start writing down some of my common excuses that allow me to be unproductive. I took the idea from a yoga challenge I did a few years ago. The idea is to write down all of the excuses you usually give for not doing something. By acknowledging that they’re common excuses, it helps you overcome the problem and stay on task.
Since this exercise has been so helpful to me, I thought you might like it, too! I thought I’d share my top five excuses for not being productive.
Related: Time Management Tips for Moms
1. I fail to plan.
Planning is really important. I know that even if I really, really want to do something, if I don’t make a plan to get it done, it’ll never happen.
It’s an easy trap to fall into. We say we’re going to do all these things, and then…nothing.
Solution: Make time to make planning a priority. Keep a schedule, make to-do lists, and schedule in time for the things that are most important. I suggest doing this on a paper planner. To me, the act of writing things down on paper helps them stick in your head better than typing them on a screen.
2. I take on too much.
I’m a mom. I’m also a business owner (times two!), volunteer, wife, friend, and like to make time for hobbies.
While all of these things are important, I can’t possibly focus on all of them at the same time. I’ve learned over the years that I need to prioritize how I spend my time.
I have to make time for the really important things in my life. When I take on too much, I’m taking time away from those things.
Solution: Try incorporating a “top 3” into your daily plans that are non-negotiable and must get done before anything else. You’ll feel more accomplished at the end of the day, and you’ll be taking steps towards your big goals.
3. I’m a slave to technology.
Case in point: During the writing of this post, I’ve already “paused” 3 times to check social media and clear out my notifications. Why?! I know it’s not as important as this post. I also know that every time I stop to check social media, I have to re-direct my brain, which takes more time.
This post should have been written in 30 minutes. That was the goal. I’m going on an hour and a half, because I keep getting distracted.
Social media, emails, and Facebook messages can be a huge black hole. There’s always something new to look at, and it takes real self control to avoid it.
Solution: Set time blocks with clear deadlines for things like checking emails and getting on Facebook. When your time is up, walk away. Don’t let technology rule your day.
4. I multitask too much.
I know better. I’ve even blogged about it before.
It sounds counter productive, but focusing on only one thing at a time will help you be more productive. Switching from one task to another means that our brains have to switch gears more often.
Every time we switch gears, it takes a minute for our brains to catch up. Not only does this take more time out of your day, but it can lead to more mistakes which you then have to take the time to fix! That’s wasted time!
If you work on one thing at a time, your brain doesn’t have to switch gears. As an added bonus, the feeling of accomplishment you get when you finish a task will help motivate you to start another task and get it done as well.
Solution: Dedicate focused attention to each task on your list and mark them off as you go.
5. I forget to make time for self-care.
Burn-out is real, ya’ll. And it happens to the best of us, especially when we forget to take care of ourselves.
In order to reach our highest potential, we need to be well rested, well fed, and have time to relax and unwind. By taking this time to step away from your projects, you’ll be able to “recharge” and come back later ready to tackle the job and get it done.
Solution: Schedule breaks and leave plenty of time to get adequate sleep. Make sure you take days off and focus on finding the necessary balance everyone needs to stay rested and alert.
I feel like most of the time, we fail at productivity because we get burned out and overwhelmed. It starts to feel like we’re spinning our wheels and never getting ahead, so we get frustrated and give up.
By acknowleding these 5 productivity traps, we can learn to take charge of our days and start to be more productive. If you feel like you’re off track and don’t know how to catch up, take a minute to refresh, refocus, and spend some time on your systems.
What are some of your excuses for not being productive? I challenge you to write them down and acknowledge them on the days that you find yourself failing at productivity!