This is a guest post by Haider Al-Mosawi
Productivity is a hot topic in personal growth literature. But with all the resources and tips out there, we don’t seem to be getting more productive. In fact, we’re spending too much time trying to digest productivity resources that we could’ve spent actually being productive!
The productivity tips we read can have short-term effects, but we tend to return to our old, unproductive routines. This leads us to consider the following conclusions:
- There’s something wrong with us: We don’t have the productivity gene some people seem to have
- Productivity tips and tricks simply don’t work: We’re being lied to about how to be productive
- We need more tips and tricks: What we’ve come across isn’t enough, or isn’t right for us
The third conclusion leads us to continue our pursuit of productivity tips that work, only to continue the cycle of unproductive behavior.
So what is the problem? Why can’t we seem to be productive?
To answer these questions, we need to change the way we look at productivity and, therefore, the approach we take dealing with it.
Unproductive Behavior As A Symptom
The biggest mistake we make in trying to be productive is assuming that lack of productivity (usually in the form of procrastination) is the problem, when it is, in fact, the symptom of a deeper problem. And in the same way that symptoms can be caused by a number of possible problems (a.k.a. diseases), we must first understand the root cause of our unproductive behavior.
Diagnose The Problem
Now that we know that our lack of productivity isn’t the problem (but a symptom of our problem), we can begin our search to find the underlying productivity problem.
At times we procrastinate because we don’t want to do a task, and other times we don’t know how to do it (and so end up putting it off!). We can be gripped by the fear of failure, or we might even be held back by the fear of success. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the load of work you have to do and ended up not doing anything? Or how about not knowing what you’re meant to be doing in the first place?
Your productivity can suffer if your energy level is low, or if you’re slow when working.
All these different types of productivity problems have different causes, which cannot be overcome with the same generic solution. There’s no Panadol to remedy our lack of productivity! We need to use the right cure for the right productivity disease.
Getting The Right Prescription
By having the right understanding of our productivity problem, we can look for the right prescription to effectively cure it.
- What can we do to enjoy a task we’ve been dreading or loathing?
- What can we do to find out how a task is to be carried out?
- How can we overcome the fear of failure or the fear of success?
- How can we boost our energy level?
- How can we develop our skills and speed up our work?
- How can we reduce distractions and find focus?
Answers to these specific questions will help us find the right prescriptions, rather than posing the vague question of: How do we become more productive?
Taking Our Medication
It’s very easy to read advice, but reading doesn’t change our situation, in the same way that having a prescription slip doesn’t cure us from illness. We need to take our medication and put the productivity tips into use. This may seem obvious, but our obsession with productivity tips can be all-consuming, that we no longer realize why we were searching for productivity tips in the first place!
Stocking Our Medicine Cabinet
Productivity tips can be immensely useful, but they must be used to treat the right productivity problem. In order to effectively tackle any and every productivity problem we face, we need to stock our “medicine cabinets” with these productivity tips, and use them when necessary.
We must also get rid of the tips that have never been effective, regardless of the productivity problem we’ve faced. Some tips simply don’t work. There’s no use trying them out again and again.
With that you’re now equipped with the right approach to lead a great and productive life.
So what’s stopping you?
That’s what you have to find out!
Haider Al-Mosawi writes about leading a balanced life and making the most out of personal growth resources (without being consumed by them) over at his blog: PersonalGrowthMap.com.