We’ve all heard the saying, “Some people are their own worst enemy.” This may apply to many people in regards to areas of productivity, (or lack thereof.) Many seem to get easily sidetracked from even the simplest tasks these days. We have many things to distract us, and many fall prey to these distractions. The problem is a lack of “single-purposeness.” Many allow their minds to be scattered in all directions, rather than focus on a specific task at hand. Like anything, we need to become aware of this behavior in order to abolish it from our being if we are to become the productive people that we know we can be.
Most of us work, or have projects or goals, or plans that require our time. How well do you apply that time? Do you find that you accomplish the tasks that you set out to do each day? It’s very easy to get busy in a day, and feel unproductive by the end of that day. If you are feeling unproductive at the end of each day, it’s most likely that you are caught up in counter-productive behavior. It’s important to identify this behavior so that you can correct it.
One way that I have made my time more productive is by creating simple lists with 3 or 4 tasks to accomplish within each day, a few days per week. It allows me to spread out the tasks evenly, and not feel overwhelmed by the addition to my normal workload. When I have a task on the list, I feel I must accomplish it and check it off by the end of the day. It helps me to stay on task. It’s a habit that builds upon itself over time. You may not be great at it at first, but week by week, if you keep at it, items will be checked off your list more & more.
The idea is to gradually change your prior behavior that was stifling you with unproductive busy work or distractions, and get you organized at achieving goals and fulfilling dreams. If big projects overwhelm you, take them apart into smaller steps. Day by day, you accomplish a step, until you achieve the goal & finish the project. It’s my approach to creating and making a reality of my own plans & visions. It works for me, and would most likely work for you, if applied. We build the necessary organizational skills over time. Try not to be overwhelmed by it. Simply write down your dream or goal in bold letters, and then break it down into a step by step format of tasks to be completed gradually. One by one, you’ll begin to see it coming to fruition.
Another important aspect of abolishing counter-productivity is the “why” of it all. Why is being productive beneficial for me? I often listen to a motivational speaker named Matthew Kelly. His main emphasis in a variety of areas is the question, “Does this make me a better version of myself?” I think it’s important to really look at what your goal or dream may be, and ask this question of yourself. I believe in most cases you will find that any positive change in behavior will make you a better version of yourself. If you are unproductive, you may be unhappy about it, even subconsciously as time slips away. If you are productive and accomplishing tasks that take you closer to your goals and dreams each day, I think the happiness and satisfaction of doing so will make you a better version of yourself.
Please think about this. It applies to every area in our lives. Give this simple approach a try, and see if your productivity increases. I truly hope that it does. Life is too short to simply be busy. Be productive, and make each day count in whatever you pursue.
I will leave you with this final parable from a Homily that I heard at Mass on Sunday. Coincidentally, Father Piotr was discussing the various distractions that we have in our lives, and how sometimes, even when our heart doesn’t seem to be fully engaged, we can still reap the benefits of small steps, (similar to my check list.) The parable was about a pious potato farmer and his son. The pious potato farmer encouraged his son to pray each day. The son couldn’t see the benefit of doing so, and felt that if his heart was not in it, it wouldn’t be a good application of his time. So the pious potato farmer instructed the son to retrieve water in a potato basket, (which was a wicker basket.) The son made several trips to the river, but by the time he would return to the pious potato farmer, all the water had drained out. Finally, on the last trip from the river, the son asked the pious potato farmer why he had to do this pointless task. The pious potato farmer replied, “The basket is now clean.” So, just as the wicker basket had let out the water, but had become clean, so is the soul cleansed when we pray, (or when we accomplish our small, daily tasks.)
Until next month,
~ John D.