What Is the Most Important Factor for Consistent Productivity?

What is the most important factor for consistent productivity?Both procrastinators and non-procrastinators yearn to be more productive.  There are lots of strategies, tools, and techniques to assist us in our work and daily lives these days, but even with that assistance, many people find consistent productivity hard to achieve.

Why is this the case?  Why do we intend and want to be productive and to get our work done, but then have our actions get in our way?  So often our actions don’t line up with our original intentions.

I found the answer to this question in a conversation with my husband.

I talked with my husband about all things related to being consistently productive.  We had the opportunity to review what we thought were the most important factors for getting things done.  He is a project manager and an inherently organized and practical, and of course that means he’s the world’s exact opposite of me, a hopelessly disorganized and spirited psychologist.

But it turns out we think about consistent productivity in similar ways.

When he talks, he uses concepts like:

  • goals and objectives
  • execution
  • figuring out the scope of the project
  • assumptions and constraints

When I talk, I refer to concepts like:

  • tolerating your difficult feelings
  • making room for flow
  • developing a daily practice
  • dealing with your self-doubt and resistance

As you can tell, our relationship is bilingual.  We often see each other as originating from an alternate universe. 

What I realized from this conversation was we agreed on one thing.   We used the exact same language to describe that one thing.  I also realized that this thing is the most important factor in being able to develop a practice of consistent productivity.  That thing is — DON’T PERSONALIZE IT.

My husband would say, “It’s a project with a defined purpose with a beginning and an end.  Don’t personalize it.”

I would say, “Don’t personalize it.  It is a project, not a statement about you or your worth or value as a person.”

No matter how we say it, we both want you to get this message firmly into your head.

This is difficult to do because from a young age we are trained that work is important and that the better we do, the better we should feel about ourselves.  This association gets developed and reinforced over and over again as we grow up, and not just in academic environments.  That association may be useful in motivating us to get good grades in school, but the closeness and intensity of this association between work and ego can inhibit us from feeling free to work when there are high stakes involved, and sometimes when there is any work involved at all.

Let that association go.  Let it go.  #singitifyouhaveto

The benefits of being able to separate your ego from your work are many.  They include:

  • clearer thinking
  • quicker decision making
  • better judgment
  • better communication and discussion
  • less time waste
  • more room for creativity
  • easier collaboration
  • consistent productivity

Let your work be your work.  It stands on its own.  Don’t burden the work or yourself with extra meanings, messages, or expectations.  Do what needs to get done with your best intentions, motivation, and skill.  Be courageous and stretch yourself.  Invest yourself in making your work better rather than in needing your work to garner you some praise or acceptance.  And never let fear get in your way.  

You might even be able to get along well with someone who speaks a totally different language than you.

Related reading:

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Consider Yourself an Equal

Many times in my life, I have been nervous or afraid.  Many times, these moments have been when I have been unsure of where I stand in a relationship.  For instance:

  • I have been afraid to call a psychiatrist, because well, that would mean I would need to say something important
  • I have been worried about expressing a dissenting opinion, because well, that would just cause bad feelings
  • I have been ambivalent about complaining to others, because well, that would make me look like I was lazy or didn’t care
  • I have been reluctant to put a request in, because well, that would mean someone else would have to do something on my behalf
  • I have gone along with something I didn’t really need or want, because well, there was a part of me that said I owed the other person my cooperation

Writing this list makes me realize just how often I go through this bad feeling cycle about connecting with other people.  And I’m hoping when you read the list, you’ll realize how much of a time waster worrying about our interactions with people is.  Every time we steer ourselves in the wrong direction, we’ve set ourselves behind time-wise too.

The good news is, I have figured out a way to make mincemeat out of this list: Consider yourself an equal.

This technique is can be a bit of a mind-bender.  That is because most of us are so used to feeling less than other people, whether in the “hierarchy” of life or through our own perceptions of where we stand.  When you assume your opinion matters just because it is your opinion and because you are a reasonable person, the way you express that feeling will be stronger than if you assumed otherwise.  Imagine yourself on a par with the person you are about to call.  Just that envisioning will make the call go that much easier.

There have been times when I have called people and I have considered myself an equal, but they (clearly) did not.  What I have learned from that small subset of experiences is that other people may have trouble considering me an equal.  And – you guessed it – that is their problem.  After the initial sting of being treated as someone who wasn’t smart or knowledgeable wears off, I work to find balance again about how I feel about myself.  Almost 100% of the time, after some time, I get confirming evidence that the nasty, uncomfortable feeling I got in the interaction was part of their problem.  I think that makes sense, as I was treating them as an equal when I called and therefore was very careful not to be nasty.

So, the next time you find yourself saying, “I’ll figure this out myself,” or “I’ll figure it out later,” please remember you can choose another option.  You can choose to move forward with your call or request or statement and consider yourself an equal.  And then the great payoff is you will also consider yourself done with your task.  No change that — the great payoff is you will be giving yourself the right feedback about how good you are.

I’m really curious to hear your stories about struggling to feel like an equal with others.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and stories here.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone