We all have those moments – when we have things we want to cross off our to-do list, but for some reason we just can’t seem to get them done.
Social media gets a lot of the blame for our lack of productivity because between breaking news stories, thought-provoking articles, videos that you just MUST SEE (and everything else in between), it really is very easy to get caught up in it.
But the truth is that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the like are really just diversions. Similar to email, social media is simply distracting us from other things that we’re not all that excited about doing. You do this, don’t you? When writing that blog post is the most important thing on your list you somehow find yourself checking out new hairstyles on Pinterest. Hey, it happens – but why, and what can we do about it?
It’s important to identify WHY you’re drawn to cat videos instead of doing your work.
Here are the three biggest reasons you’re not being productive:
That thing you’re supposed to be doing? You’re resisting it. The question is, why? Is it too hard? Too big to conquer? Or is there something else getting in the way? If you can quiet your mind and ask why, you’ll find the answer. Ask yourself WHY you’re resisting this task, and listen closely for the answer. Resistance is very real – enough so that there have been dozens and dozens of books written on the subject. One of my favorites is The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield. It’s a quick read, and come back to it often when I’m feeling stuck.
One very common reason for resistance is fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of what people will think, fear of what will happen next (or won’t happen), etc. etc. etc. The fact is, though, that fear is not a bad thing. It’s in our DNA – it’s there to protect us. It’s critical to our survival. Fear is what we feel when our brain shifts into survival mode.
Unfortunately for us, though, fear can’t differentiate between launching a new business and being eaten by a tiger. That’s not its job. Its job is to say “hey wait a minute, have you thought this through?”. So it halts our progress.
Just like we did with resistance, we can ask ourselves what we’re truly afraid of. If it’s fear of failure, for example, ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen? What’s the absolute worst thing, and how would you deal with it? I find that immensely helpful, because it usually shows me that the “worst thing” really isn’t all that bad, and is something that I absolutely can handle.
It’s also important to acknowledge the fear. Recognize it for what it is, and acknowledge that it is only trying to protect you. Then move on. You’ve diffused the power of the hold that fear has on you so it won’t get in your way. It’s that simple.
Lack of clarity
If you’re spinning and spinning and not making any progress on anything, it’s quite possible that you’re simply not clear on what you want yet. Clarity is elusive. Sometimes it smacks you in the face because it’s so obvious, and other times it dances around the fringes of your awareness for what feels like an eternity.
For example, I spent months knowing that I was being called to offer some sort of support program for women, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what it was. I’d get so excited about a new idea, but for some reason it just didn’t feel right to me. I couldn’t bring myself to act on it, and it was driving me nuts.
I finally stopped pushing, stepped back, and listened. Only then did the answer come to me. Once I got clear on WHAT I wanted to offer and WHY I wanted to offer it, the answer was right there in front of me.