We’ve all done it. We’ve set out for the day with a list of tasks we seek to accomplish, and we’re charged and fully convicted that we’ll do exactly that. However, somewhere along the way something happens. Hours pass, tasks go unchecked, workloads accumulate, and we find ourselves doing much less than expected. Our productivity goals go unmet, and—for whatever reason—we can’t figure out where or how we went wrong.
Here’s a little insight on why you aren’t being as productive as you wish you could be, even when you start out on the right track:
1. Too Many Tasks to Begin With
Be sure to be realistic with the number of tasks you can feasibly tackle in a day. Your to-do list should not be a wish list. It must contain items that, given your allotted time, you can actually do. When mapping out your to-do list, place time frames next to each task, and try to stick to it. Allow for a little cushion in your perspective times for small distractions that may arise.
2. Unrealistic Expectations
You’re confident that you can do all things, and that could be considered part of having a healthy self-esteem—if it wasn’t a flat out lie. Your perception that you can do it all is simply unreasonable. You could likely get all of your tasks done, if you were more realistic with your expectations. If you know that it’s a Friday and your brain tends to shut down toward the end of the week, don’t expect to climb a mountain of work.
Let’s say you have your realistic to-do lists marked with precise time-frames, but you look up, only to realize that your mission has gone unaccomplished. The likely culprits are distractions. Nothing kills productivity like all of those little things such as cell phones, television, social media, the Internet, co-workers, snack time, and so on. These things seem small and meaningless, until you find yourself looking up an hour later still at square-one. Create a hard system against distractions. Post a sign for chatty co-workers, put your cell phone away, close any tabs that aren’t related to the task at hand, and reward yourself with a snack only after you’ve completed what you’re working on.
Doing a lot of little tasks on several projects can feel like you’re making strides, but while looking at the bigger picture, you might find yourself still standing where you started. There is certainly a time, space, and place for multitasking. But when assessing productivity, you want to tackle any given task in manageable chunks at a time, in order to make notable strides. You can figure out a way to get it all done, you just can’t do it all at once.
Take heed to why you’re not as productive as you wish you were, in order to turn the tide. Be realistic, eliminate distractions, manage your time, and produce.
Safon Floyd is the Digital Editor at Black Enterprise. Follow her @accordingtofon.