10 Secret Killers that Destroy Your Personal Productivity
As an entrepreneur, you have a too-long list of urgent tasks ready before you start your day.
But by 10:30, you realize you haven’t even started one of these urgent tasks.
You swear you’ll get going right away. But you just need to finish typing this email or reading that article.
Before you know it, it’s lunchtime.
After lunch, you finally get going, and around 5 p.m. you realize you are almost done.
With the first task. Not your whole list.
The rest of your list? That’ll have to wait ‘til tomorrow… or the next day.
You start to think you’ll enroll in an expensive time-management course, or get a personal assistant.
But that likely won’t help you much.
Try this instead: Learn about the 10 secret productivity killers. Watch out for them, avoid them, and you’ll dramatically increase your personal productivity to reach your goals.
1. The Saboteur Inside You
Whenever you set out to do something remarkable, a sinister force tries to sabotage your efforts.
Steven Pressfield calls this saboteur the “Resistance.” Every creative person struggles with this.
To overcome self-sabotage, you need to be aware of this force. You need to remember it when you don’t feel like working.
Don’t allow the little saboteur to steal your success. See through its efforts to divert your attention or nick your motivation.
Simple awareness is the key. If you realize that the reason behind your excuses, procrastination and laziness is the little saboteur, then chances are good you’ll get back to your best work.
2. The Advice of Others
If you read the advice of successful people all day long, you can forget about ever being successful yourself.
This is so simple. We spend too much time reading, learning and planning for success.
It’s time to get going! Start doing the things you have been reading and hearing about.
Put down that book, close your browser, and take off your earphones.
It’s time to work.
3. A Strong Focus on Future Goals
Yes. You read that correctly.
If you are constantly wishing to be somewhere in the future, you are missing the present moment.
The present moment is all you will ever have. This moment is what you need to use and enjoy.
Future goals are important, but secondary. And it surely doesn’t help if you wish you had already attained these goals rather than being thankful for the time you have now and working hard.
Be present. In the moment – here, now.
Don’t make whatever needs to be done now a means to an end. You will reduce the power of your work, and put your goals at risk.
4. Your Family
Your family could be stealing your productivity.
Their constant curiosity over your progress and their efforts to cheer you on are adding unnecessary pressure — especially true if they are secretly hoping you’ll fail.
Why on earth would they want you to fail?
Because they hope you’ll stop taking risks and return to something “sensible” for a career.
All entrepreneurs experience pushback when they start. We need to make sacrifices and take risks to get to our ultimate payoff.
The world needs more people like us. People who refuse to complain, and who grab their opportunities to create a better tomorrow — for everyone.
But some of the people in your life aren’t that smart. They think taking risks is stupid. They think it’s better to have a steady, low-paying job, without much freedom than it is to chase a big dream.
If you don’t stop entertaining these folks, you won’t work at your awesome, productive best.
Ignore them. Forget about pleasing them. Soon, they’ll be looking at you with big eyes of wonder and an uncomfortable smile.
5. Too Many Connections
Having too many social connections costs you time and productivity. Every person you know will eventually steal some of your time.
Next week someone is in town and wants to do something for lunch. The week after that it’s someone else’s birthday and you need to fit in a mid-week party.
Know who your best friends are, and give them all the love they need… over weekends! But you can’t be a socialite and a productive entrepreneur at the same time.
One sure way to stay unproductive and unsuccessful is to harbor the belief that you cannot be successful.
Stop it. Let that ship sail.
People with serious handicaps and disadvantages accomplish the most amazing feats. A normal person like you don’t have any excuse.
Self-doubt doesn’t serve any purpose.
Either believe in your abilities or work hard to improve them. Those are your only two options.
7. A Sense of Urgency
Your aim is not to urgently rush through your day, and get everything on your to-do list done.
Your aim is to be insightful and creative, and to remain cool, calm and collected throughout. One hour spent doing good work is better than ten doing mediocre work.
If you want to honor your work, and give it the power it needs to make a difference in the world, don’t approach it with a sense of urgency.
Bring energy, presence and awareness when you report for duty.
Einstein famously said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
Despite that tongue-in-cheek rationalization, getting organized is important. An unmanaged email inbox can cause more stress, anxiety and procrastination than an oncoming tsunami.
Process your inbox. Schedule your routine tasks. Get them out of the way.
This will create space for the more important work that awaits you — the kind that pays the rent.
Without focus, you’ll lose speed, and the quality of your work will suffer.
Stay focused. If you catch your mind wandering or compulsively running from one random, useless thought to the next, bring it back to the task at hand.
Focus makes your work shine, and ensures that you get it done.
10. A Lack of Clear Priorities
Smart entrepreneurs are skilled in getting important tasks done. But they are even more skilled in neglecting unimportant work and avoiding unnecessary distractions.
You need to prioritize. You need to know what’s important to you. And then you need to get that done before anything else… even the urgent stuff.
A strategy that works for me is carrying a notebook. I use a small Moleskine.
Create a list for every source of present and (possible) future income. Let’s call these your “money lists.” Make sure you have everything covered.
Also add lists for anything not directly related to income, but very important to you. Spirituality, family and personal development come to mind.
Right at the top, define your main goal for that particular list. Write it down once, and stop daydreaming about it. Remember your focus is here and now, not on some future date.
Now write down the tasks that will get you closer to your goal. Let’s call these your “money tasks.”
Make sure every task necessary for you to reach your goal is on the list.
Now, every week, look over your lists and decide which are the most important next tasks. Schedule these first, and give them prime work time.
This prevents you from wasting important time on unimportant tasks.
The World’s Best Little Productivity Tip
Every serious entrepreneur needs to work six to eight hours per day on meaningful work, right? And to be successful you just need to keep your head down, stay disciplined, and work hard indefinitely?
No! Not even close.
If you manage to do as little as three hours of serious, focused work every day, you could reach your next major goal in as little as six months! Whether you are trying to learn a new cloud accounting software system that means you can spend less time trying to figure out why your financial files don’t match what your accountant has received or trying to be a better writer, just a few hours of focus can really pay off.
So, here’s my advice. Decide what’s the main action needed to grow your business. If you’re a blogger and online entrepreneur like me, it’s probably writing, followed closely by marketing.
Identify your top two. Let’s call these your top “money activities.”
Spend three to four hours per day, every workday of the week, on nothing but your “money activities.” Do this early in the day, and be absolutely shameless in neglecting other tasks, even urgent ones.
In a short couple of months, you should have made significant progress.
Even if you don’t reach your goal, and realize that your “money activities” should be different activities, keep your chin up and soldier on. That very realization is the type of progress that will get you to where you need to be in record time.
Are You Just Going to Roll Over?
If you want to create a better tomorrow, you will certainly face some or all of these 10 personal productivity killers!
Through killing your attempts at being productive, they kill your dreams. And if they’re going to take those from you, they might just as well kill you too, right?
Don’t allow these subtle destroyers to chop off the heads of your successes.
Don’t roll over and die!
It’s time to get up and fight. Your future can be amazingly bright, but you have to use the time you have now to create something beautiful.
And if you don’t defend your time like a warrior, opportunities will vanish into thin air.
Get up. Look adversity in the face. Acknowledge it. Get a mean grin on your face, and get to work.
It’s that simple.