When we are unsatisfied with our productivity levels, it is common to blame our environment and lifestyle. We have to shop, pick up the kids from school, chat with friends about plans for the evening, and then, ‘like’ a few cute puppies on Instagram. Even on those rare distraction-free days, we still get the feeling we could have done more.
Here is the first mistake: we don’t realize the real reasons. When we look for the causes of our failures, we usually find familiar excuses. You know what they say: “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” Now it’s time for identifying the real five reasons you’re not reaching your maximum level of productivity.
№1: Doubting in yourself
That’s what we all do. We fall into procrastination over and over again because we don’t believe in our ability to handle anything new, or even things we’ve been able to deal with before. We fear making a wrong decision so don’t make any at all. This reduces our productivity even further. Besides, it seems that if something goes wrong, we will always regret it.
The human brain thinks the consequences of acting can be worse than the consequences of doing nothing. As a result, it tends to choose the “safer” option. This behavior also helps us avoid inconveniences we think are impossible to deal with, like disappointments, rejections, conflicts or new scary responsibilities. All of this is completely out of our control, making us feel helpless.
However, for your own productivity, you need to realize: these problems are just a part of normal human life. Our control is limited, so we often have to deal with givens that cannot be changed. Doubts, obstacles and unpredictability are normal. Knowing this makes managing circumstances much easier and more efficient. You can handle challenges, but you will never learn about it if you’re constantly avoiding daunting tasks. And it’s an important lesson.
№2: Being a control freak
When you are proving to yourself that you can handle new difficult tasks, don’t forget that handling doesn’t mean performing perfectly. Many of us might be prone to perfectionism in one way or another. Many even consider it a virtue. Let’s stop lying on one, two, three! And here it is — perfectionism is a mask for the malicious fear of disappointing others — sad but true.
That’s why we always want to increase our productivity. We often have two problems with perfectionism:
- it may take us weeks to find the perfect planner, write the perfect plan and create its design, while the main task — executing the plan — is put on hold;
- if we have a feeling we could do better, we don’t consider a mission accomplished and keep returning to it for any tiny improvements.
As for the first problem, Nimbus Platform has your back. You have checklists, tables, highlights, and everything you need a click away. What’s more, you can customize Nimbus templates and adjust them to your work. But don’t go in for a planning bout — that’s a slippery slope to procrastination. Any plan you write in Nimbus isn’t conceived to satisfy your perfectionism but to help your productivity increase every time. After each project, you can work on your Nimbus templates and improve them. When your business grows, your Nimbus pages can grow with it to meet its needs.
If perfectionism prevents you from letting go of an imperfectly completed task, think about who’s identifying what “perfect” is. There will always be dissatisfied skeptics, but often the work that we consider small can make a big impression on people.
№3: Not assessing achievements
When it comes to reaching your full potential, it is not enough to rely on your willpower alone. In order to manage the execution of tasks, you will need auxiliary tools and actions. These should help you clearly control the time spent on important tasks and coordinate daily work to bring tangible results.
A scorecard is the best way to measure your actions effectively and learn about your progress. Every week evaluate your productivity using two parameters:
- performance indicators — a ratio of completed actions to planned ones;
- final results — how effective those actions were, what achievements they led to.
Design your report as simple or detailed as you like. Write text notes, diversifying them with highlights, heading sizes and section breaks. Take a look at some Nimbus Templates and copy your favorite blocks to your page. Or just get inspired and customize your tables from scratch. Little tip: the Progress Cell Type is perfect for seeing your performance graphically — make sure you try it.
Forming a group of like-minded participants to share goals may be another effective method to avoid procrastination. Arrange meetings in your favorite cafe at the beginning of each week, or create a shared Nimbus workspace and add your scorecards. You can communicate via chat or leave comments for others right in the notes. Don’t blame each other for lack of productivity. Just feel free to talk about mistakes, help focus on what’s important and praise your friends for their successes.
№4: Setting weak personal boundaries
Many of us find it impossible to say “no” to questions, requests or assignments. The reasons are different — from the reluctance to deal with feeling guilty to the fear of becoming unnecessary. How to mark our boundaries and make others respect our friendly but firm refusal is an essential psychological skill that we should all study in detail. However, here’s what you can do to start building healthy relationships with your colleagues right now.
When you are already at your maximum productivity and there is no time for your manager’s new task, you may feel uncomfortable saying no. One solution is asking them for help in prioritizing your project list. Take them through everything on your plate and ask how you should write up the plan to fit in the new task. Thus, you’re providing your boss with options for their buy-in, but without sacrificing your boundaries and taking on too much work. Seeing you are at capacity, they’ll reduce your workload, or even get someone else to do it.
As you can see, the belief that identifying and defending your boundaries can damage your work relationship is so cliche. This approach won’t lead you to be low on collaboration or productivity. Instead, you will increase your reputation as a valuable employee who manages time effectively.
№5: Avoiding the first step
Scientists have discovered that the human brain responds negatively to uncertain situations. Each of them is seen as a potential danger that must be prevented. Thus, it tries to stop the process before we’re able to do something “risky.” Furthermore, when we have to exert ourselves to maintain productivity, the cost of short-term effort seems to be much higher than long-term benefits. That’s when procrastination comes.
In this case, the first step is to build a picture of your perfect future. People tend not to take such visions seriously, but they are very important. It adds an emotional connection to dry plans of strategies and tactics. So you won’t complete tasks just to check the box. You won’t even want to achieve the goal as such. You will want to achieve a better life that will come after achieving this goal.
Imagine and write down what will happen if you achieve your goals:
- how you will feel;
- what benefits you will get;
- how your environment will react;
- what will change for you, your family, friends, co-workers, etc.
Make the description as detailed as possible, and review it to increase motivation and productivity whenever a task seems impossible to complete. No task is impossible to complete for you, especially if it’s just the first step. And if you still don’t know what your first step is, start with planning. With Nimbus Platform, it’s definitely going to be an easy task since Nimbus has everything you need. But enough talking and avoiding, just do it!