I was once a proud multitasker. I still try to trick my colleagues by saying I am a natural… Spoiler alert: MULTITASKING IS A SCAM, an urban myth spread across to break you down slowly!
Queen of procrastination and distraction on top of this, and struggling in this moment in time, specifically due to the piles of work needed done and delivered yesterday! Here is how I’m failing at being productive:
1. Overthinking snow-ball effect – Getting stressed when I know I’m falling behind on my schedule. Either because procrastination kicks-in, or (un)expected things require my immediate attention. If these two fail, my brain goes into self-sabotaging mode. I start overthinking about what I should be doing, what I want to do to prove myself I am capable of achieving something, thought that is strengthened by my super self-criticism. As a result, I feel overwhelmed and focus my attention on something that takes that painful sensation away, just to delay it and let it build up in the background into a crushing snowball. Human behaviour 1:1 I guess. Or at least is my excuse to self-sabotage a bit more. That is why so little achieve greatness!
2. Focus on the end goal – It may sound counterintuitive, but this is one of the main feeders of my lack of focus. I tend to take out the binoculars and look on the end-goal alone. Because of this amplified vision, I miss the true dimension and distance, as well as the mountains, valleys, canyons and rivers in between. It is a reflex of wanting knowledge with no discipline for the process. To feel passionate about that vision, but having no idea or plan how to start. I suck at planning. The simple task of planning a dinner, is condensed in booking a place 10 minutes before and whatsapping the ones involved. You can imagine how well that works with my fellow UK friends.
3. Be a collector – Someone once said that as Human beings, we spend half of our time collecting, and the other half deciding what to keep. My grandfather was a master at this. Fierce entrepreneur in his mid 30’s, business and family man in the second half of his life with an outstanding consistency in his actions, always in line with his beliefs. Very genuine man, my grandfather.
As for me, I am a collector, a fierce collector, have experimented several jobs and careers, some of them very short. Have tried dozens of different hobbies (started yesterday to learn python for example, hopefully will finish the course). I feed on the novelty, on the experience and on learning new things. However, I am a terrible juggler (also tried this as a hobby for exactly 3 days).
4. Self-sabotaging – related to overthinking, to procrastination, or derived by a deep fear of not achieving something? Whatever it is, I’m an expert! My boredom scale builds quite quickly. I have constant fights in my own head, self-sabotage vs belief I can be much better; thrive to accomplish a specific goal vs thinking of a million other things to do that take priority for being less important!
Would love to understand better self-sabotaging behaviour. Is there an intrinsic undermining human nature to crash? Or is it based on the “energy saving” theory of evolution, to avoid taking more effort than one actually needs to survive as a species? Whatever it is, I want to kill it!
Either way, once you pass the jumpstart of any task, it somehow becomes a motivator. Just that inertia is a pain to overcome.
5. Be available to people – Fixing problems feels amazing, and working with others to brainstorm solutions is a very good learning tool. Because if this I struggle to say no when asked for help. Once someone told me I am good at serving people. Despite dreading that observation (independence is my thing!), I need to eat up my pride and admit that is a little true. Others expectations, unfortunately, do have an effect on me, specially when I feel I’m helping somehow. I feel a responsibility for fixing things. I just need to channel that same energy towards myself. Should be easier, no? Need a trigger for my selfish gene!
I have tried all the tricks in the book to focus. Meditation, to do lists, gratitude lists, pomodoro timers, visualization techniques, piano music, jazz music, no music, disconnect the phone, clean the house, exercise in the morning, read and learn something, drive with no route, write my mind and my heart out into a paper in hope to make sense of it. If only setting aside time for deep work was easy…
There was a time in my life I was following religiously James Altucher’s life hack into luck. I have to confess I was much more focused, but at that time in my life (2011), I was less busy. Maybe I will give it another go… if I find the consistency to restart a daily ritual.
Any other tricks?
One thought on “5 ways to fail at being productive”
My favorite one: love what you are doing; and if you can’t, create this passion, deep dive into the subject while, at the same time, u expand your knowledge around what you are trying to accomplish.
It’s a mix of fooling yourself with becoming a black belt on the issue you are dealing with.