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I’m just in the process of shooting the final videos of my upcoming personal development course (more on that soon…) The final module — “Effective Action” — is all about getting done what we’ll have planned in the earlier modules. So lately I did some interviews with other time-management experts and also people just trying to improve their productivity level. I just wanted to dig really deep and understand the different types of productivity killers that everybody of us is fighting with…

Knowing the Basics is NOT Enough

Myrko on time-management

Me going beyond the time-management basics
in my upcoming Personal Development Course

I’m sure many of you already know the basics of time-management: The 4 Quadrants of Demand, Illusion, Escape and The Zone.

But knowing and doing are two different things. Right?

If you really would only work on what is actually important to you, and not only urgent or — heaven forbid — even not important at all, then why would you have any productivity issues?

If you’re not doing it, then you don’t really know it. [...and that's a Tweetable: Tweet this!]

So, What Are Your Biggest Productivity Killers?

Looking at the answers I got I started to notice patterns there. And not only patterns. I also saw a lot of rationalization going on…

On the surface the reasons that we lack time-management look like issues with self-discipline and procrastination. But if you start to uncover the real reasons behind the behaviors, it gets much more subtle and interesting…

So here are the Top 5 time thieves. The real productivity killers:

1. Idealizing the “Busy” Life Style (Going into Demand Mode)

One of the hardest mindsets to deal with is when we say we want to change something but in reality we don’t.

If you gain an ego-boost by feeling busy and being seen as a busy (read: important) person, you’ve got a problem. You can say all day long you want to improve your time-management, but if deep down you think it’s “cool” to be busy, you’re not gonna change. I think the problem here is:

a) being busy is actually NOT cool, because it will create stress, but not necessarily success

b) being busy is not the goal. And it’s not a desirable state to be in anyway

How to Bust it? Realize that being busy is not cool. Busy does NOT equal productive. Go into The Zone and think about how you can simplify and focus more on what is really important to you. Eliminate what is not really working and find the few ways that lead somewhere.

2. Not Having a BIG WHY  (Not Going into The Zone)

The best hack to deal with a lack of self-discipline is to actually want to do what you do. If you are so driven that nobody can keep you away from your work, you won’t think about self-discipline.

How to Bust it? Create a strong WHY for what you’re doing. Start finding out what really drives you, what you’re passionate about. Why are you here? Set a powerful goal on what you really, really want to create. See it visually and juice it up. Then focus your mind on it and get going.

3. Welcoming Distractions (Going into Escape Mode)

How to deal with distractions? Simple. Remove them! Problem solved.

Stay at your #1 priority, no matter what!But in reality a lot of us welcome distractions.

When you are allowing distractions because really deep down you enjoy them, then I would urge you to create a BIG WHY here too. If you can’t wait to reach your goal you don’t want distractions anymore, believe me. But if you are too much in your own comfort zone and not willing to get out, then distractions will stay to be a part of your life.

How to Bust it? You need to master one thing:

Stay at your #1 priority, no matter what! [Tweet this!]

And the best way I know is to actually create this BIG WHY we talked about earlier. And then make sure that you enjoy the process of going there! Then you won’t feel like escaping. You want to stay with your #1 priority because it gives you emotional reward to get there.

4. You Can’t Say NO! (Going into Illusion Mode)

When we take on too many commitments, or when we are getting side-tracked, it’s because we can’t say “No!”.

Here are often conflicting values at play. For instance if your spouse is asking you to plan the new holiday trip with you, but you should be working, then you might run into the conflict of the value of harmony vs. the value of achievement. In that case you have to (and one way or the other, you will) make a decision.

How to Bust it? You got to bring up the courage to say “NO!”

You need to say “No!” more often, in order to say “Yes!” to what matters. [Tweet this!]

If it’s your boss, you may need to say “Yes” but try to get a meeting about your priorities later. If it’s your spouse, you need to talk about working hours and family hours upfront.

So create that drive and say a BIG NO! to any distraction that is keeping you to be the awesome creator of your life that you are!

5. All of the Above

If you are just used to be fuzzy and have accepted your lack of power productivity as part of your “personality”, then you really need to make a shift in thinking.

It’s as always: Use it — or loose it. [Tweet this!]

Don’t accept mediocrity just because it has always been like this. If you start to improve and develop positive momentum, you can tackle one problem at a time.

Identify what your biggest productivity killer is and then start by solving this one!

For me personally, the biggest advice to boost my productivity was to start with my #1 priority first thing in the morning. Yes, that meant not checking emails, news, calls, blog comments, statistics, new followers etc…. :-) But then I still have all of my energies up and I start building positive momentum right from the start!

What are your productivity killers?

4 comments

  1. Dan Garner Reply July 8, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Hi Myrko,

    Thanks for sharing. I needed this today. It’s a day away from my 9-5 job and I was going to be busy – to feel like I’d accomplished something. I think I’ll concentrate on my #1 priority instead of staying busy with unimportant tasks.

    Dan
    Zen Presence – Ideas for Meaningful Living

  2. Myrko Thum Reply July 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Dan, that’s a fantastic idea. Let’s stay focused!

  3. D Reply September 24, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Hi,

    Excellent article! One small nitpick though:

    In regards to the line “if your wife is asking you to plan the new holiday trip with you, but you should be working, then you might run into the conflict of the value of harmony vs. the value of achievement. ”

    I’d recommend changing the word “wife” to spouse or significant other (SO). Hear me out on this one:

    As a woman in the US, I’m constantly bombarded by the media with the concept that the default subject is male, and the default object is female. In other words, the media assumes the audience is a straight male, thus making women the “other.” I know this isn’t your intention. I’m saying this at the risk of being labeled as a “feminazi” by others and subject to ridicule. I’m looking for employment in the tech industry, which is still highly dominated by men, where the work environment can be very hostile towards women (just check out the latest TechCrunch conference shenanigans!). Gender-inclusive language goes a long way in a society that strives towards egalitarianism.

    Thanks for listening.

  4. Myrko Thum Reply September 25, 2013 at 4:32 am

    @D, you are totally correct. I was using “wife” probably because I was mainly thinking out of my world and experience, so it was my wife.

    I changed it and have the same viewpoint on the topic.

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