The root cause of the productivity problem

Not having enough time is NOT the problem…

Photo by Minh Pham on Unsplash

Oftentimes when people talk about productivity, they focus entirely on the time-management aspect of productivity. They think all they need to do is organize their lives better and implement the latest time-management strategies — and then they get frustrated because no matter what they try, it doesn’t fix the issue…

Don’t get me wrong, organization & time-management ARE important and absolutely essential. But there are often deeper issues involved that these strategies alone can’t fix.

The bigger problem I see is that a PERCEIVED lack of productivity is, more often than not, just a symptom of a much bigger problem. And that much bigger problem is that many of us are so busy hustling 24/7 that we don’t take the time to step back and look at the big picture.

We get overwhelmed, lost in the detail. We get trapped in our own minds and the stories we keep telling ourselves. We are afraid to ask the tough questions. We are scared to take the next step and do what we know we should be doing.

All of this leads to a lot of procrastination which is your brain’s way of saying “Ah, that’s just too much and I can’t handle it”.

So overwhelm and fear lead to procrastination which obviously leads to reduced productivity - because if you spend all day scrolling through your social media feeds or watching YouTube videos you won’t get anything done, right?

Sometimes we are aware of this connection between overwhelm, fear, and procrastination, sometimes we are not. And when we are NOT aware of it, we often think that all we need is a new time management tool to make us more productive.

And then we get disappointed and frustrated because no matter how many new strategies we try — we can’t seem to get any more productive. Has that ever happened to you? No shame, I think we’ve all been there…

It’s because we were trying to fix a SYMPTOM, not the root cause of the productivity problem.

That’s why to me, productivity and purpose are so closely linked: As long as you don’t sit down and really define WHAT you want, WHY you want it and WHAT fears are stopping you from going after it — you’ll just run around in circles.

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You’ll spin your wheels without getting anywhere.

You’ll feel stressed and burnt-out.

You’ll be going through the motions and feel like life is just happening to you and you don’t have control over it.

It’s certainly something that has been true for me. I don’t think you can be truly productive without clarity and purpose. Cause, after all, those are the things that give you direction, right?

If you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter how fast you go because you won’t know when you’ve arrived.

Does that make sense?

And it pains me because a lot of entrepreneurs I’ve talked to believe that they have to work super hard, be available 24/7, and generally do MORE things to make money.

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Yet the constant hustle and worry lead to relationships falling apart, health issues & regrets. After all, no matter how much money you end up making, money can’t buy you back time with your family or loved ones. It can’t fix your health issues. It’s a tool, it doesn’t give you purpose.

When was the last time you thought about the finiteness and miracle of your own life?

I know this is might sound like a weird and somewhat morbid question, but bear with me for a moment.

We are often so busy and so trapped in our automatic patterns, that it’s hard to put things in proper perspective. We tend to make a mountain out of a molehill or to ignore the actual mountain — pretending it’s not that big of a deal.

The problem with this is that we often focus on doing the wrong things.
We chase shiny objects hoping that once we get X, Y, and/or Z, we will finally be happy and fulfilled.

Yet we hardly ever pause to question those assumptions.

So how do we know we are chasing after the wrong things?

Well, thinking about the finiteness of your own life puts things in perspective.

When you project the current trajectory of your life into the future and have a conversation with your 90-year old self. Ask him or her: What do you regret in your life?

The answer might be slightly different for everyone, but when you ask dying people this very question, there are a few common themes that come up again and again.

Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse from Australia recorded the regrets of the dying people and wrote them down in her book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying”.

What do you think those people regretted most or would have done differently?

Well, #1 of the most common regrets was:

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

When people realize that their life is about to end, their perspective shifts. All of a sudden they realize that just going through the motions and following the path of least resistance, killed their dreams and aspirations.

What seemed like the safe and sensible option at the time, suddenly seems like an incredible waste of time, energy & potential.

You begin to wonder what could have gone RIGHT instead of what could have gone WRONG. What you would have been capable of. If you had really tried.

So what’s holding most people back from going after those things that are so important to them?

What’s holding YOU back? If your answer is “not enough time”, you are in good company.

“Being too busy” has become the standard excuse for nearly everything from avoiding things you don’t want to do, to getting out of commitments you’ve made and to difficult questions you don’t want to face.

What if the answer wasn’t doing MORE things but rather focusing on less?

Photo by Danica Tanjutco on Unsplash

Ask yourself: Do you have clarity around your values and priorities in life? Are those aligned with the goals you’re trying to achieve?

Or is maybe a lack of clarity and priorities causing you to procrastinate?

Let me know in the comments below!

I help ambitious entrepreneurs leverage the power of their minds to literally re-wire their brains for more inner peace, income & impact.

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