Why you’re not as productive as you could be

So often in life we feel like we’re super busy but in reality we aren’t actually getting anything done.

Perhaps you’re the sort of person who always has at least 7 things on the go. You feel like you’re busy but really you’re just overwhelmed. You’re overwhelmed because you’re not allowing your mind to focus.

Instead of finishing one task before you start the next one, you’re doing little bits of each task, flitting from one thing to the next. Then suddenly you find yourself rushing to try and complete everything. More often than not things don’t actually get finished.

Or perhaps you believe in multi-tasking. Things like baking whilst listening to a podcast or making notes at a webinar are fine. The issue arises when you’re baking and trying to make notes whilst listening to something. Or maybe you’re writing, watching a show, playing a game and checking social media.

I think we sometimes underestimate the effect that focusing on one thing at a time can have on our ability to be productive.

In our bid to be productive, feel busy and get lots done we often end up over complicating things.

We’re much better off, slowing down and focusing on one thing at a time

In the spirit of getting things done


I think that most people that procrastinate also have periods of intense productivity. It’s the only way to keep things in balance otherwise they’d just fall apart and miss deadlines.

I find that as much as a person may procrastinate they are also capable of getting things done if they create the right environment fo themselves.

Perhaps, they will write a to do list that they are able to focus on completing tasks whereas usually they would look at the list but take little to no action. They’d tell themselves that they’ll do it later or do it tomorrow even if it could be done right now, even if it would only take 10 minutes.

But when this same person is in the spirit of getting things done, they are able to get mote done in a few hours or a day than they would usually get done in the space of a week.

Getting ahead and falling behind

The trick to getting ahead is to increase your work rate and never go below your usual work rate.

If you want to get ahead long-term then you have to make time to regularly increase your work rate, this gives you the ability to know that you’re always ahead even when you back to your usual work rate.

However, if you want to get ahead as a temporary thing, you can increase your work rate for a period of time and then you can take time time off from working. But before long that time will run out and you have to get back to work again otherwise you fall behind.

The way I work follows the second option, getting ahead temporarily. Every month or so I’ll have a period of time where my work rate increases. This gives me the chance to take time off completely or space to work without focusing on the end result.

Productive Sundays

Sundays tend to be one of my most productive days, if not the most productive day.

I think the reason for this is because it’s still the weekend so I’m relaxed and can spend my entire day as I please but I also know that work starts the next day so I do what I can to make my week ahead run as smooth as possible.

Instead of focusing on working hard or being productive I think about what will make my week easier and will also make me happier.

Simple things like writing todo lists, meditation, planning meals and planning outfits can make such a big difference to my week.

I spend my Sunday evenings reflecting on the past week and writing a todo list for the week ahead. I’ll write about the good things that happened, a key moment or something I learned and also my focus for the coming week. I then proceed to write a todo list which is always a mix of things I want to do, things I could do and things I need to do.

I spend my Sundays in a way that feels good but also feels useful, the fact that I tend to get a lot done is a great. However, it’s a bonus, not the main intention.

How to be more productive

If you ever find yourself wanting to be productive but struggling to get things done, here’s a simple solution.

Get the materials you need, go somewhere where you won’t be disturbed, start and don’t stop until the task is complete.

Being productive isn’t as complicated as we often make it.

Of course if you’re sitting with your fave show on and your phone at your side the task you’re working in will take much longer than it needs to. You have to allow your mind to focus.

Once you take away the distractions, you might start off slow but you’ll build up momentum and find yourself working much more efficiently.

The importance of a working from home routine

I believe that a new way of working requires a new routine. Up until the past couple of months most people that worked  9-5 office jobs spent most of their days in the office. However, that has now changed we are (pretty much) all working from home.

One of the things that many have overlooked is implementing a routine for working at home. Most of us have a particular routine for days in the office, whether it’s the time we get up in the morning, preparations we do the night before, the time we start working and the time we log off.

You need that sort of routine for working at home too. It doesn’t need to be exactly the same, but you can’t expect to work at home the same way you do in the office if your day has no sense of structure.

Something as simple as starting and ending your day at the same time each day can work wonders.

It may not seem important to implement this and maybe you want home to be more fluid and free. However, it turns out that without some structure to your day you’ll be more likely to work longer hours and you’ll probably be much less productive.

The easiest way to get things done

Is to start.

Not soon, not later and not tomorrow but now.

So often we find ourselves overwhelmed by our ever-growing to-do lists that we end up thinking more planning, more thinking and more organising is the way forward. But at the crux of it all without taking action, nothing is going to change.

You’ll be surprised at how at ease you feel once you start getting things done and actually commit to it for a chunk of time wholeheartedly instead of half-heatedly. Not long after starting you’ll find yourself getting into the flow of it and the anxious feels will begin to simmer.

Often it is merely the thought of doing the work that is causing you to feel overwhelmed not actually doing it.

Is now the time for productivity?

Instead of questioning whether or not you should be maximizing your productivity at this time, it might be more useful to check in with how you feel.

If you spend 3 weeks watching netflix, how will you feel?

If you spend 3 weeks working yourself to the bone, how will you feel?

Chances are you won’t feel great doing either.

As much as it is good to rest you’ll also feel good doing things. Whether that is one task a day like reading x chapters of a book, decluttering a room in your house or starting an online course.

But you don’t need to compete or try and milk this time for all it’s worth. It’s healthy to rest and it’s healthy to do things. You just need to figure out what works for you and go with it.

Restructuring your work day

Yesterday, I wrote about replicating work life at home.

But, it’s also worth considering how you work best.

Take advantage of the time you have to experiment with how you structure your day.

Maybe you’ll find that:

You prefer to start at 7am instead of 9am

You’re more productive in the evening than the morning

You feel better when you take a break away from your laptop

You like to vary the hours you work day to day

It might seem pointless to change the way you work for this period of time. However, it is worth remembering that if you give yourself the chance to do things, in a way that suits you more, you’ll probably produce better results

 

Boredom and avoidance

If you think you’re bored you might find that there’s actually something you’re avoiding.

So often we find ourselves feeling like we have nothing to do, when in reality we’re just putting off what needs to be done.

When you don’t want to do something, it feels easier to avoid it in favour of something else, even if something else is doing nothing at all