4 solutions to deal with unproductivity

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Getting things done and feeling a sense of accomplishment is an important part of being human. However, sometimes we don’t get it all done. What happens then?

Have you ever made a to do list with too much on it?

Do you like making to-do lists and seeing things get crossed off? It’s a great feeling when stuff is marked COMPLETE.

....But sometimes we have to deal with tasks that can’t get checked off.

We all deal with stress differently. Some people can go months “ignoring” something important, but then it becomes CRITICAL at the last minute when it’s due. Although we are all wired differently, we all have to deal with “undone stuff” sooner or later. Dealing with “undone stuff” is part of the human condition.

Dealing with “undone stuff” is part of the human condition.

See if you make these mistakes in getting stuff done…

  1. You believe you can get it ALL done. You believe that it’s not just possible, but your PURPOSE—your vocation!—to do absolutely everything there is to do.
  2. You run out of time. En route to accomplish everything on your list, you run out of time do to it all. 5 o’clock comes fast and you’re surprised when it’s…wow, already Friday?! There’s still so much to do!

  3. You’re forced to work overtime because of time lost during the day. Have you ever had things on your list that were a priority for the day, but they didn’t get done and you had to stay late or come back on a Saturday to finish up? I have. More than once! (Not proud of this.)

  4. You under-compensate how much time is needed to do a task. Instead of scheduling a full day to work on your desired outcome, you schedule an hour to do “it all” and find yourself both surprised and frustrated that you didn’t arrange for enough time to do the task.

  5. You lie awake in bed thinking about what you have to do the next day. Instead of reading something soothing or listening to a Sleep Story (see the Calm app), you mentally review your day and the following day while you’re trying to fall asleep. You don’t truly “turn off”—and you allow your brain to keep working—rather than rest.

I’ve struggled with these things, too.

Even though I’ve accepted I’ll never be able to get it all done, I struggle with each of these mistakes, too. I have to remind myself frequently that I’m not God!

4 ways to deal with the fact you’ll never get it all done

1. Accept it.

Accept the fact that you will NEVER get everything done. This is a big step, but it’s important. See if you can say it out loud: “I’m never going to get everything done. I can’t get everything done. And that’s ok.”

2. Plan for it.

Once you accept that you’ll never get it all done, plan accordingly. Plan extra time, plan for things to go wrong, plan to sleep with unfinished tasks still written down in a trusted place.

3. Delegate it.

Since YOU can’t get everything done, employ the help of others. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. When you ask others to do stuff, I try these things:

  1. Admit you need help. Don’t pretend you can do it all on your own. None of us can. By admitting to another person that you need help, you value the other person’s time, skill, and talent. And we all want to be valued.
  2. Ask them if they would be willing to help. Often when I am given tasks, the other party doesn’t ask me if I am able to help. They imply I’m able to do it—which makes it tricky when I’m booked. It’s nice to ask rather than imply.

  3. Provide a reasonable time-frame and delivery date. Delegation can go wrong if you RUSH someone else to do something. It is better to provide more than enough time and ask in ADVANCED, rather than forcing someone else to do something in a short time frame. Empower someone to do something.

  4. Put them on your Waiting-For list. You can read my post about a waiting-for list here. Make a note that you’re waiting to hear from the other person and follow up when you still have time to figure out what to do.

Here’s a delegation template you might try:

  1. I need help and here’s what that means.
  2. Are you able to help?
  3. Here’s a reasonable timeframe.

Example: Hi Matt, I need help with for an upcoming event. I need someone to take leadership over the registration process and recruit volunteers. Would you be willing to help? The event is in 3 months and I’d like to have someone on it by the end of next week. 

4. Expand it.

We sometimes try to get too much done in a short period of time, rather than expanding our deadline.

The secret to having more energy and less stress is to expand the timeframe needed to accomplish what you want to do. If you give yourself one month to do something, instead of one week, you’ll find you and your team are more energized to do the work and that the work is done with more excellence.

The biggest mistake in getting stuff done is thinking you can get EVERYTHING done.

What mistakes do you make in trying to be productive? Do you resonate with any of the mistakes listed here?

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