Is this you? You want to be productive in your work and life. Yet, you fall victim to procrastination and not achieving the goals (#allthethings) you set for yourself.
In this post I shared my view on productivity: what it really is and, more importantly, what it most definitely is NOT. Productivity isn’t the dirty word we’ve come to believe it is. Productivity isn’t cramming every minute of your day full with activities and things to do, so that you can call yourself ‘productive’.
I wholeheartedly believe that this is what it means to be productive:
“Productivity is the means with which you get to work towards fulfilling your purpose. Productivity is not about working harder, it’s about working purposefully.”
Woah! Read that again, I’ll wait…
Yes, productivity without purpose is just busyness.
But before you even can get started with figuring out what it means to be purposefully productive, increasing your productivity and implementing systems (in fact, in Productivity with Purpose we’re not going to get there until the last module of the course), there’s something that needs to be addressed first. You need to debunk a few productivity myths and get real clear on the excuses you’ve been telling yourself that have stopped you from being purposefully productive.
To make things a little easier on you, I’m going to list the 12 most common excuses about productivity here. Ready? Okay, let’s get started.
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The biggest excuses about productivity can be divided into three big themes: mindset, freedom, and time. Let’s start with mindset.
1. "I WON’T BE ABLE TO STICK TO A NEW PRODUCTIVE SCHEDULE."
This excuse is all about attitude! The key here is to set up a schedule, routine, or system that makes your life easier and therefore you want to stick to it.
If you do find yourself struggling to stick to your new productive habit, you haven’t made it easy enough for yourself: either it didn’t line up with your values and priorities, the system wasn’t automated enough, or your schedule was too full or not truly catered to your needs. The lesson here is to not overcomplicate or overschedule.
2. “STRATEGIES AND SYSTEMS ARE ONLY FOR LARGE BUSINESSES AND NOT FOR ME.”
Not true! They can make our day-to-day life hassle-free. If you want to take your stress levels down a notch and you want your everyday work and life to be more purposeful, then you need strategies, systems, and routines. Besides, I want to bet that you take on the amount of work of a big company in your daily life anyway. Amiright?!
A purposeful strategy and a schedule catered to your needs will help you get all of that work done. It will also help you plan in advance, organize the goals you want to accomplish, and get away from adding random tasks to your to-do list.
3. “SYSTEMS ARE WAY TOO TECHNICAL FOR ME.”
Nope! Systems may sound scary and complicated, but they don’t have to be. Systems are only as complex and technical as you want them to be. You don’t need fancy software. It can simply be setting up color-coded tasks in your calendar or combining all of your admin tasks to a certain day to free up time for creativity in your daily schedule.
4. “THINGS ARE ORGANIZED IN MY HEAD.”
I’m sure you’re able to keep track of everything in your mind, but I’m also sure this causes you a lot of stress and takes up too much of your mental space. You must be exhausted!
No matter how much of a multi-tasking productivity mastermind you are, creating a strategy and setting up a purposeful routine for your work and life will improve your focus, up your concentration levels, make you more efficient, and allow for more time. All in all, it’ll make your day run smoother and your mind less cluttered.
5. “I’M AFRAID.”
What are you afraid of that’s causing you to lack motivation and keeping you from doing the work? It could be that you’re scared of how much of an effort it will take for you to get things done or that getting routines in place will disrupt the way you do things. Maybe you’re worried that you’re not going be able to do the work perfectly. Or you’re afraid that getting super effective and productive systems in place will mean that you’ll grow quicker in your business or creative life than you’re ready for.
All of those fears are completely normal. However, I encourage you to not take them literally. These fears represent resistance and resistance means that you’re on the right track - you’re working towards something that means something to you.
Productivity with Purpose is going to help you move through that resistance. You’re going to identify that big, overarching goal (your values, priorities, and mission) that you want to work towards in your work and life. And then, you’re going to create the (mental) space that is going to help you on your way to be productive with purpose.
6. “BUT EVERYTHING IS A PRIORITY!”
No, it’s not. Everything is not a priority. Self-care and fulfilment are a priority and so are your relationships and health. The rest can wait.
7. “OTHER PEOPLE ARE DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY, SO WHAT WILL THEY THINK OF ME?”
So what if other people are doing things differently? Your values and priorities are yours and yours alone. There’s no one or perfect way to be purposefully productive. You have to find the process that is right for you. If other people have a different process, so be it.
Stop yourself when you find yourself comparing your work or your process with someone else. When you’re on your way in your ‘Productivity with Purpose’ journey, there’s no time to check on everyone else.
Besides, you have no control over other people’s perception of you. Some people are going to love you, but there are also going to be some people that don’t like you. How people think of you is their problem, not yours.
Another big theme that comes up when we’re talking about productivity excuses is that people feel like they will lose their freedom when they get more organized and set up systems and routines. Let’s explore these myths a little further...
8. "I DON’T WANT MY CREATIVITY TO BE BOGGED DOWN BY A ROUTINE."
This is such a common myth amongst creatives: that if you stick to a routine your creative genius cannot roam free and find the inspiration it seeks. But the opposite is true. A routine doesn’t limit space, it creates space.
Setting up a routine and figuring out which activities you want to accomplish when and what time’s your optimal time to be creative, allows for you to hold space and time for your creative endeavors. Thanks to a routine - that you’ve created with purpose and filled what things and tasks that you value and are important to you - no matter what happens, you’ll know that there’s a time to be creative in your weekly schedule.
Another thing to point out here is that through establishing routines and systems the things that need to be done get done faster and that leaves you with more time and space to do the things you want to be doing.
9. "I NEED FREEDOM. SYSTEMS AND SCHEDULES ARE BORING."
The freedom to live our lives the way we want to, is the greatest freedom there is. It feels great to be spontaneous during weekends or do something non-work related in the middle of the day when you work from home. However, when being spontaneous becomes your default mode and you go through life doing things on a whim, you’re not as purposeful and productive as you can be.
Structure and organization don’t limit you. They are necessary. They give you a framework from which to operate. While systems and schedules may be boring, they also allow for you to do the things you need to do in an efficient way so that you free up time to do with whatever you please. If you value freedom, you need a routine to make sure you have enough time to be free.
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Some of my favorite and most frequently used (by me, too!) excuses when it comes to productivity are related to time, or better yet a perceived lack of time. You’ll find these excuses below.
10. "I’M BUSY."
This means you need purposeful productivity to make you less busy, my friend! ‘Busyness’ and productivity are two very different things. I define ‘productivity’ as the means with which you get to work towards fulfilling your purpose. While ‘busyness’ is about working harder, productivity is about working purposefully. Busy people tend to do all the things. Productive people are intentional and do only those things that contribute to their goals and purpose.
When you find yourself using the excuse “But I’m busy!”, usually you are doing things that are keeping you busy. It’s random stuff, things that you don’t actually want to do, but you feel like if you don’t do something your life will catch up with you. Being busy, busy, busy might actually mean you’re in denial about feeling like a victim in your own life. Being purposefully productive means you’re taking back that agency and control of your life.
11. "I WORK BEST UNDER PRESSURE."
I agree that deadlines can be helpful in the way that it creates urgency to finish a certain project. But that’s no excuse to not have systems and routines in place.
Everyone has to deal with a deadline every now and then. But when you have three deadlines every single day and you’re constantly under pressure, it just means that you’re disorganized, you lack systems, and you don’t have a schedule in place to help you plan ahead. Set all of that up and you’ll save your sanity and stop yourself from getting burnt out.
And if you still need a bit of a thrill throughout your day, create mini-challenges (like writing a blog post in half an hour) or find a hobby that gives you the excitement you crave.
12. “I DON’T HAVE TIME.”
The most used productivity excuse out there. The truth is that you DO have time. In fact, you’re drowning in time. 24 hours worth of time each day, to be exact. The question is, what do you do with that time?
Is it lots of ‘busyness’? Do you do things you had wanted to say no to, but said yes to instead? Do you fill up your time doing things to please others and putting other people’s needs in front of your own? Do you do random things or do you use your time wisely?
Building strategies and systems for more productivity are a one-time time investment to help you free up time, so that you can reap the benefits for years to come. Get organized and you will never again have to search for a file you lost or stress about forgetting that one important thing.
Do you want to be more productive in your work and life? In need of a tailored-to-your-needs daily routine? Do you fall victim to procrastination and not achieving the goals (#allthethings) you set for yourself? Then make sure to download the Ultimate Checklist for Productivity with Purpose. Just click the button below.
Hi there! I’m Wendy, perfectionism coach and host of the #perfectionistproblems community for recovering perfectionists. I’m insanely passionate about helping you overcome your perfectionism, so that you can stop caring so much about what other people think and finally take on those dream projects that you've been putting off for so long.