What Stops You From Being Productive?

Lots of things get in our way when we are trying to be productive. Most of these are easy to spot and tend to boil down to being distracted from our goals. We want to get something done, but the dog needs to go to the vet. The grocery shopping can’t wait. The car needs an oil change. And we get tired, and then everything seems like too much to do, so we don’t do anything and go watch television.

Not much can be done about the daily minutia of our lives. Those things exist and we have to come to terms with the fact that there will always be “little things” to distract us from the things that we want to do.

But there is hope. There’s a little secret to being productive, and you don’t need to buy a book to learn it. You don’t need to attend a seminar and pay someone a bunch of money to uncover this secret.

The “secret” is that we actually do have enough time to get our tasks done. And we even have enough time left over to enjoy some relaxation. The secret is that we only think we don’t have enough time to get stuff done because we don’t actually know how much we need to do!

Most people keep their task list in their head. And here’s our problem: our minds just aren’t very good at keeping lists of things to do. We very quickly perceive that we have too many things to do, so we become discouraged.

The easiest way to get control over your own productivity is to start, and use, a simple to-do list. Keeping it simple is the key. Many people keep to-do lists that don’t help them because they turn into clusters of sticky papers just as cluttered as the lists we try to keep in our minds. What good is a list that looks just as daunting as you already feel?

To keep a to-do list functional, you need to get rid of items when they are done. Don’t just cross them out – that just adds clutter and adds to the perception that you have too much to deal with. If you are using paper, then re-write your to-do list every night, leaving out the things that are done, so you have a nice, clean list the next day to work from.

Once you get into the habit of keeping a clean to-do list, you’ll find that it’s not overwhelming to get your tasks done. The reason is simple: you’ll be able to just look at your list to know what you need to do. Tackle each task, one at a time, and remove it when it’s done. Before you know it, you’ll be in control of your own productivity. And there’s no substitute for the feeling of satisfaction earned by getting stuff done before the end of the day.