In today’s fast-paced, success-oriented society, reaching your most daring goals is considered one of the most desirable achievements in life. Unfortunately, society offers us more and more creative opportunities to procrastinate! So, how can you stay productive despite all the distractions and other obstacles that might come in your way? Here are some tips.
I’ll focus on three of the most common productivity obstacles and explore how to overcome them.
1. Lack of Focus
An interesting study cited by Forbes Magazine revealed that over 60% of American employees complained that loud colleagues were the biggest source of distraction on the job. While that may be true, chances are that the reasons for your inability to concentrate on tasks run deeper.
Dealing with a lack of mental focus can be due to a range of issues such as a fatigue, nutritional imbalance, food allergies, digestive issues, or inhalant allergies, to name just a few. Personal stress and emotional concerns can be a big player also.
But, distraction is also part of the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, as well as some other disorders such as depression and anxiety. If you suspect or know that you’ve been struggling with one of these disorders, then it’s time to acknowledge the elephant in the room and begin to consider ways to deal with it.
First, you need to identify what the root of the issue actually is. If the distractions bringing you down are mundane and simple, one quick fix is to mentally prepare yourself to deal with them. By recognizing what affects your productivity, it will be easier to ignore the obstacle.
However, if your issue has to do with a physical or mental issue, consider all options to “fix yourself” before casting all the blame on your surroundings. Seek proper medical attention through a conventional or integrative practitioner.
2. Poor Time Management
Everyone who strives to be more productive either at work or in their everyday life might assume that running on a tight schedule is a good idea so you can accomplish as much as possible. But did you ever stop to think about all the ways in which this might be affecting your overall results?
When you’re not giving yourself enough time to finish something, giving up will actually seem like the best option! This is a normal defense mechanism people employ in situations that are too demanding for their abilities—or their time available. It’s not something to feel bad about, but rather a red flag that needs to draw your attention to what you may have been doing wrong so you can make adjustments.
According to Julie Morgenstern, author of Time Management from the Inside Out and a renowned productivity consultant, being overwhelmed leads to procrastination. Thus, when you feel like there’s no point in doing something, that might be because you haven’t allotted enough time in your day to perform that action.
The obvious solution here is to be more realistic about how much time it takes you to perform specific tasks. There’s no shame in admitting that you take longer on some things than others. After all, separate activities have different levels of difficulty and require a range of energy expenditures. To be able to stay motivated and complete them all, you will need to be honest and objective with yourself.
Consider completing a daily log for a week, outlining your activities, recording how long they took, and noting whether you were able to complete them without stress or discouragement.
3. A Tendency to Multitask
One of the biggest barriers that stands in the way of productivity is multitasking—a very common habit these days. Although this is usually perceived as a desirable skill to have, rarely do most people truly manage to do well while attempting it. When you try too hard to do multiple things at once, there is a high chance the results will be poor. This is, of course, common sense. But the practice is so pervasive in our society that it helps to stand back and observe your own behavior.
Fortunately, this issue can be easily resolved by simply dispelling the myth surrounding multitasking. Instead of insisting that it’s something we should all do because that’s what we read in that “one magazine” years ago, we need to accept reality: Taking on your tasks one at a time and concentrating on them separately is the surest way to achieve amazing results.
There is no set blueprint for how to maintain an optimum workflow, but there are ways to identify what your problems are. And, by being more aware of the obstacles, you can begin to work on solving them so that you can become the best you can possibly be.
Alex Moore is a psychology undergraduate and blogger who advocates for mental health awareness in general and a better understanding of schizophrenia in particular. You’ll typically find him contributing to Schizlife. Alex is very active on Twitter @alex_moore01