Have you ever looked at the clock and wondered, “Where did the day go?” Have you ever felt like you were incredibly busy, but then realized that you didn’t actually accomplish much? Well, don’t worry, this happens to a lot of us. But more importantly, there is a reason for it, and ways to fix it.
The reason that the day, week, month, or even years fly by without getting much done is because of the thieves of productivity. These are factors that steal our time, energy, and ability to complete and accomplish our tasks. More importantly, they rob us of our life and our life’s unique purpose. Once we can identify these thieves, we can implement countermeasures to stop them in their tracks. We can take control of our time and our days, and accomplish more than we ever thought possible.
So, what are these factors and what can we do about them?
The first factor that significantly reduces our productivity is the need to strive for perfection. The need for perfection stops us in our tracks. This is because we fear mistakes, failure, or other peoples’ opinions. The fact is, we cannot reach perfection and the attachment to perfection causes an immense amount of frustration and reduces our productivity. The reason that perfection is unattainable is because everything is in a state of flux. We can constantly improve and make things better. To say something is “perfect,” is to say that it is flawless and cannot be improved upon. This is an unrealistic and detrimental expectation. How can we overcome this fear of imperfection? Simply by acknowledging that the goal should be progress, not perfection. For thousands of years, we humans are continuously growing and adding to the body of literature and discoveries of generations before us. This will continue on to the generations that follow us. So, to strive for perfection is an exercise in futility. Rather, come from the perspective that your goal is to move forward, to make progress, to improve and get better, not to be “perfect.”
The second factor that steals our productivity is the inability to say No. If we say yes to everybody’s request, we will spread ourselves too thin and this ends up leading to a significant reduction in our time and energy on the things we need to accomplish. This causes our energy to be spread on many different things, not leaving enough to make substantial progress on our priority. It has been said that the key to failure is to try to please everyone. Understand that you cannot please everyone. Be okay with that. You are going to have to turn down others’ requests in order to be more effective on your priority. Also, the individuals asking for favors from you should be understanding and considerate of that. If they aren’t, then that is probably someone you shouldn’t be doing favors for in the first place. In summary, say No to any task or project that is not congruent or consistent with your goals.
The third factor that will steal your time is your energy, or lack thereof. Often times we are exhausted at the end of the day, or even by midafternoon. Commonly, our exhaustion is not due to workload or effort expenditure, but rather due to poor health habits. For example, a common habit is carb loading first thing in the morning. Eating sugary pastries such as donuts, muffins, and pancakes for breakfast is just asking for disastrous consequences. This causes a sharp spike in blood glucose levels, followed by a spike in insulin levels. This results in blood glucose dropping again with fatigue and loss of energy. In contrast, eating a healthy, nutrition breakfast sets up your day for success. Other poor health habits, such as smoking, drinking, overeating, and a sedentary lifestyle drains your health, well-being, and energy level. If you want to accomplish a lot, you are going to need a lot of energy. In order to have a lot of energy, you need to put yourself in peak physical fitness with good dietary habits and regular exercise. The results of having increased energy are profound. You will be amazed at how effective and efficient you can be, and greatly enjoy the process at the same time.