Everyone I know wants to be more productive— including myself. Even though I consider myself to be a highly productive person, I still find myself saying things like:
- There just aren’t enough hours in the day!
- How is it already the end of the week?! I still have so much to do!
- I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time _______ (surfing the internet, stalking Instagram accounts of puppies, etc.)
Sound familiar? We tend to blame external factors like limited time and frequent distractions for our poor productivity. But the reality is that this is precisely our reality: we live in a fast-paced, high distractibility world that makes being productive a challenge. When we convert this context into excuses, we relinquish accountability and set ourselves up to fail.
Interestingly, high performers operate within this exact same reality, but still manage to achieve next level productivity. What is it that they do they do differently? They create internal necessity first, then strategize second.
Here’s why we suck at productivity: we’ve reduced it down to task management, and task management alone.
There’s no shortage of hacks and best practices for maximizing our productivity, and yet, most people still aren’t as productive as they’d like to be. Despite a plethora of effective tools and strategies at our disposal, our productivity suffers because we tend to skip a crucial preliminary step:
Identifying a compelling reason WHY following through is important.
It sounds obvious, but most people never take the time to identify the deeper meaning and purpose behind their mile-long to-do list. In the absence of a compelling “why,” we tend to drag our feet, procrastinate and avoid responsibilities. Conversely, developing a high level of clarity around the impact each action will have on your life today, tomorrow and beyond is the fuel you need to drive yourself into energized, efficient action.
NOTE: compelling is a key word here. If your “why” is simply some version of, “because I have to” or “because my parent/teacher/boss/spouse/coach told me to,” the chances of you taking swift, massive action towards your goals are slim to none. So, it’s crucial that your “why” is detailed, personal and significant.
In order to identify your “why,” begin by asking yourself some foundational questions:
- Why is this task/role important to me?
- What does accomplishing this task afford me?
- Who else will benefit from my follow through?
- How will I grow as a person?
- What personal values will I honor by following through?
- What strengths can I engage?
- What will happen if I don’t follow through?
- Who/what will suffer if I don’t follow through?
- What’s at stake
- How will this task impact me today? Next week? Next month? Next year?
Creating a compelling “why” is the necessary precursor to capitalizing on all other task management strategies, and the key to taking your productivity to the next level.
What’s YOUR compelling “why”?