There are myths and mistaken beliefs that could be preventing you from being more productive in both your personal and work life. Your beliefs about productivity and organization can often prevent you from doing exactly what you want to do and to be in life.
You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control how you think about these circumstances. Your thoughts, in turn, affect how you respond to your circumstances.
How many of the following myths about productivity keep you from being an effective, productive person?
1. Being organized means being clean
People often believe that being organized means they live in a cold, sterile, unused space. But that’s not really what organized means. An organized space is one in which things are where you most need them, and close at hand. The things you need the most often are easy to find and the things you don’t need very often are put away but easily retrieved if you do need them.
You should be able to find what you need in your office, or room or kitchen quickly and easily. If the clutter isn’t working, take the time to organize it so that it does work.
2. You don’t have time for a system
The reality is that, systems do take time to set up, but once you begin using them the amount of time you save makes up for the set up time.
3. Systems can be rigid and inflexible to use
No one’s life is so chaotic and unpredictable that it won’t fit into some sort of system.
4. Being productive means doing more work
This seems to be the fear of many. The idea that if it takes you half as long to do everything in your life right now then being productive means you will be doing twice as much.
Being productive means having more time to do the things you enjoy like spending time with your family or taking vacations or writing a book.
5. You’re too creative to use a system
Productivity isn’t just for business people. Creative work is still work and often can be subject to procrastination, poor planning or rushing to complete. You also have to take care of all the records, clients and taxes that come with being creative. The same is true for those taking care of personal space. You need a system in place to pay your bills, file your taxes, plan your meals and shopping, and keep track of appointments.
6. You work best when you’re under pressure
Many people believe they thrive under an impending deadline. Most of the time that’s not true. It’s an excuse they use so they don’t have to say they messed up and didn’t get started sooner.
Being in a high-stress, always-urgent mode isn’t good for your health, your business life or your relationships.
7. You need inspiration to be productive
Inspiration isn’t what gets the work done. Write down your ideas to capture them for later.
8. Multitasking is common for everyone
Multitasking slows down our productivity. It makes you prone to making errors. And it often keeps you from completing one task completely and well.
Don’t mistake flexibility with multitasking. When you’re flexible you are able to move on to another to do item when necessary. You do the job until you get to a stopping point then move on to another task if necessary.
9. I don’t need a schedule
You can have little structure to help you clarify your goals and what needs to be done each day. It doesn’t mean you have to write down everything in detail, just use a broader list.
Admitting you fall prey to any of these productivity myths can be tough. In fact, you might even deny it by procrastinating or with indignation but if you’re honest with yourself you will eventually accept it and take steps to improve.
What to do instead:
Now that you’ve identified your productivity flaws you need to ways to change them. It might be that you just need better systems in place. Or maybe you need more in-depth help.
Here are a few choices to get you started:
- Estimate how long you need to complete a task. Then set up a time to do it.
- Tell everyone what you’re doing and ask them to not interrupt you for a certain amount of time.
- Get enough sleep the night before you have a big, productive day planned. Getting enough sleep, preferably 7 to 8 hours, helps your body restore itself and be rested to take on what it needs to do.
- Along with the previous item, eat a healthy diet. Fill up on whole foods, rich fruits and vegetables and eliminate sweets, fats and processed foods. Get in plenty of exercise to keep your body at peak form.
- Enlist the help of others. At home, enlist your kids to help do a whole-house pick up every evening before bedtime. Pick up everything in sight. Make a game of it.
- Eliminate distractions. Turn of the television, phones and social media and anything else that distracts you throughout the day.
- Plan on being productive. If you put it in your schedule to accomplish, you are more likely to do it. The more you plan to accomplish, the more you will accomplish.
- Create a routine. Everyone has a unique routine. Create yours and stick to it as much as you can. Say no to the extra stuff that take you away from what you need to be doing.
- Tackle the job a little at a time, breaking it down into smaller chunks. If you’re cleaning and organizing your house, take several things with you when you go upstairs. If you’re working on a large project for a client, break each section down into a small chunk you can do in 15 minutes or so.
- Focus on one activity at a time.
- Work when you are at your peak. If you’re a morning person, get the bulk of your productivity done then. The same is true for night owls or afternoon workers.
These are just a few of the ways you can combat loss of time and get on the right track towards being more productive. Find your peak work time, get organized, follow systems and become healthy.