Why You’re Not More Productive and How to Fix it

notproductiveHere’s something that might surprise you — all this productivity stuff doesn’t always come so easily to me. I’ve shared this at several of the signings for my book Listful Thinking and people have really been shocked.

The truth is I’m actually a big procrastinator.

I know that working in television under really strict deadlines, with serious time constraints has helped to pull me out of my procrastinator ways. The same rules for productivity applies for many businesses too, as well as personal goals.

I use systems all the time like list making, rewarding myself and making fake deadlines to get more accomplished.

That’s how this blog got started but I want you all to know that I work at it every single day.

Yes I do have an advantage because I like to organize shirts by color and write my to-do list on beautiful stationery. But I have to work at maintaining my lists, keeping my schedule in check and being more efficient with my free time.

I think it’s important to share our productivity struggles as well as our successes. Too often when I speak with people who are struggling they feel like they are the only one.

If this rings true with you — remember you’re not alone!

In fact, the more people I talk to, the more I realize how similar our stories are.

The same phrases always seem to come up:

“I’m too busy.”

“I don’t have time.”

“It’s too difficult.”

Are you addicted to these phrases too? Has the story that you’ve been telling yourself been keeping you from getting organized?

Have you convinced yourself that you just don’t have enough time in the day to do the necessities — never mind doing something you’d actually enjoy?

These are all crutches that keep you from living your best, most productive life. And if they sound familiar — don’t worry — I can help!

Trash The Excuses!

I don’t have time – This is a classic. You spend all day rushing around and you still can’t get everything done. But have you really thought about how much time you spend on each task and how much time you actually waste? Have you ever timed yourself? Last week I challenged you to write down every single thing you do for one day. It’s an investment in figuring out how to better utilize your time.

I’ve tried and I just can’t do it – Sometimes you resign yourself to just accepting that you’re just too messy/disorganized or that you get too distracted. These are certainly some big obstacles, but trust me they can be overcome!

When you hit these roadblocks it’s normally because you haven’t yet found a productivity style that suits you yet. Different things work for different people – it’s important to keep trying different tactics until you find something that works for you. Maybe you like to work first thing in the morning or you need to listen to music while you get things done. Putting in the time to figure out what sets you up for success will make all the difference.

If I become more organized I won’t be creative – It seems to be a fairly common misconception that becoming more organized means changing your personality. It’s simply not true.

You can be a productivity whiz and still be the same carefree person you where before. I’ve discussed this before with my friend Terri Trespicio on her show Solopreneur. In fact, I believe that being more organized gives you more free time. So you can relax, sit back and let the creative juices flow.

I don’t know where to start – An easy trap to fall into when you’re trying to be more organized is when you bite off more then you can chew. Don’t try to overhaul your life in one weekend! Start with something small, like organizing your email inbox. Once you’ve got one thing sorted you can move onto the next. I would also recommend making a list of all the areas of your life that feel out of control. Then choose one at a time and figure out how to tackle it.

I would be more organized if it weren’t for the kids/my boss/the cat… – When we’re struggling with something blaming others is often the easy way out.

The truth is there is never going to be a good time for you to “start getting organized.”

There will always be something in your way.

So why not start now? Admittedly it’s much easier to get your life sorted when there’s only one person to sort out. However the rewards of a productive lifestyle are so much greater the more people involved!

If this is your go-to excuse — flip it around the next time you go to blame someone else. Instead — take a deep breath and write down what is holding you back. Yep — make another list. This could be a list of feelings, emotions or roadblocks. Sometimes just getting it out there will help to defuse it.

Once you realize what’s really going on – it will be easier to fix it.

But Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself!

Thinking over some of these problems might leave you feeling a little overwhelmed.

I understand.

In fact I’m the first one to say that you are just being too hard on yourself and you should give yourself a break!

We all have a few bumps in our productivity journey. I’ve push too hard to be perfect.

I’ve placed too much value on having a spotless kitchen and a to-do list with every single item crossed off every night.

Sometimes it’s just not feasible – and that’s OK. I’m all for taking a break when you are overworked and overwhelmed. However, let’s be honest with ourselves and figure out what is really holding us back from being more productive. Once you identify that reason — you can start to clear the clutter in your mind and get to work.

I want to hear from you. Which of these scenarios rings most true with you?

5 replies
  1. Ginger Rogers
    Ginger Rogers says:

    Someone mentioned your book in a decluttering group. I’m listening to the audio book. I’m a long time list maker. My mother (90) has always teased me… “without your lists you’d be listless!” 😉 I’m retired and working on decluttering our home – shared with my husband and mother. I made a room-by-room Declutter list. I even listed the number of drawers and broke down the closet into parts. Worked at it 15 minutes at a time. I love putting big red check marks on tasks completed. I have lists of everything. I even have a listing of my lists. My “Master List of Lists”. I’m currently working on a whole house inventory – for no other reason than because I’m curious. We already do an annual home inventory video and listing for insurance purposes. But – I’m counting socks and spoons. How much do we have and how much do we need? I’m curious. Don’t worry. I have other fun things I do. Though list-making has always been fun for me.

  2. Katherine
    Katherine says:

    Omg I want to cry. I am a big multi Tasker I am addicted to it lol. I am listening to your audio book now and reading this post. Thinabout dinner time. I homeschool two boys and work from home. I have so much to do and I always doi a brain dump in the morning and have lists everywhere but still get little of what I want done complete. I am a procrastinator through and through. I am a night owl I rather vacuum at night but I am mindful of my children. I know blaming ots my kids sleep like rocks they slept through fireworks. I am so happy I came across your book and subsequent website to help me refocus and kick myself in the butt to propel my business to the next level so I can have that run on autopilot so I can start traveling with my boys to give them a truly rich education through experience and not just textbooks. I homeschool for a reason and you are helping bring my educational vision to fruition. My children are under age 9 and I swear I was more productive before they were born. I think mothers understand therer is a short period where you forget yourself and live for your children, but in this case it is not a good thing when what is best for them is being hindered by my departure from myelf.

    • Paula Rizzo
      Paula Rizzo says:

      Hey there Katherine! So glad you found my book and my site. You have a lot going on but I know you’ll be able to fit it all in when you get those lists straight. Let me know how you do! Good luck 🙂

    • Paula Rizzo
      Paula Rizzo says:

      Welcome! Glad you’re finding the site useful. Yes , the trick is having routines and systems in place to keep you organized and efficient. Don’t worry — I can help! 🙂


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