The Real Reason You Weren’t Productive Today

time management frustrationWe’ve all looked at a lengthy to-do list and wondered, “What in the world should I do first?” Sometimes, however, we know what we should do first, we just don’t want to do it because it’s difficult, time consuming, or worst of all…we’re scared.

When we’re scared to do something, we never actually admit it to ourselves. Instead, we come up with wild excuses to put it off. Try these three steps to conquer your fears, boost your productivity, and finally do those tasks you know need to happen to reach your goals.

1. Tell Someone You’re Scared

It’s easier to make up an excuse for procrastinating rather than admit that we’re afraid to fail, or doubt our own abilities. Verbalizing those fears to others can help us see how unfounded they truly are. Hearing it said out loud helps us admit that we’re putting something off because of fear, not because of the other excuses we’ve imagined. Plus, if you tell a close friend or family member, he or she can remind you why you do have the skills to accomplish what you need to and that the only thing holding you back is…you.

2. Pinpoint What You’re Scared Of

Once you realize it’s fear that’s holding you back, try to pinpoint exactly what it is you’re scare of. Are you scared of being told “no?” Are you scared of losing money? Embarrassing yourself? Wasting your time? Pinpointing your fear can help you address it more directly.

3. Determine What the Reward Could Be

Once this scary task is completed, what will you gain? A new job? More clients? A sense of accomplishment? More money? Pride? Happiness? Defining the reward gives you motivation and helps you realize how “silly” the fear is compared to the reward it could produce. For example, are you really willing to give up a chance at a better career because you’re afraid of being told “no?” Are you really willing to give up on a great opportunity because you’re afraid to pick up that phone, or send that email, or start that project?

This week, I challenge you to make time for at least one thing that scares you. What will you accomplish by casting fear aside and tackling those important tasks that will propel you forward?

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Are You Letting Fear Hold You Back?

This week, you will likely see some spooky ghosts and goblins on your doorstep. However, Halloween isn’t the only time we encounter things that scare us. Some of our fears follow us year round and try to both interfere with our time management, and inhibit us from accomplishing our goals. Unfortunately, it will take more than some free candy to make these scary things go away.

We strive to have excellent time management skills to efficiently work toward our goals. Sometimes, even though we know the steps we need to take in order to reach our target, we let our fears get in the way.  Be careful not to let these three fears stop you from reaching your goals.

1. Fear of The Unknown

Even though we may be dreaming of change, the fact of the matter is, it can be a terrifying concept. The unknown is scary. Sometimes it’s easier to put off taking concrete steps toward a goal simply because the status quo is so familiar. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. If you need help taking that first step into the unknown, look around. You probably aren’t the first one to venture down that path.

2. Fear of Failure

Failure is not enjoyable and in an effort to protect ourselves from that horrible feeling, we sometimes avoid trying at all. If we never try, we won’t succeed, but we also don’t run the risk of failing! This avoidance isn’t something we’re always completely aware of. A common method of failure avoidance is to busy ourselves with so many other things that we can tell ourselves we “don’t have time” to accomplish what we know is really important. Remember: we make time for what’s important to us. Failure, while painful to our ego, doesn’t have to be a dead end, but is rather a necessary pit stop on the way to success.

3. Fear of Disappointing Others

Many of us let other people dictate the way we spend our time. We do things not necessarily because we want to do them, but because we think it’s what others expect of us and we don’t want to let them down. Here is the thing: other people don’t care nearly as much as you think they do. People who are close to you just want you to be happy, and people who aren’t close to you are too busy worrying about how everyone else is perceiving them, that they don’t have time to judge how you’re spending your time. You need to devote your time and energy to tasks that support your own goals, not the goals of others.

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Shifting Gears from Plan to Do

Careful planners are often good time managers. They look before they leap, they aim before they fire, and they research before they implement. However, good ideas can easily stall out in the planning phase if we don’t eventually change gears into implementation. Knowing when to stop planning and start implementing is a key component of efficient time management. Don’t let these three factors hold you back.

3 Things That Slow Down Implementation

1. Fear of the Unknown

When we are trying something new, our lack of knowledge on the subject can be paralyzing. We may know so little about a new process or project, that we might not even know what we don’t know. In other words, finding out what questions to ask might be even more difficult than finding the answers to those questions. In this case, it’s important to set a goal for your background research so you don’t lose hours of productivity in unrelated Google searches. Set a goal of finding 5 essential questions you need answered in order to begin your task. Then, once you find the answers to those questions, move to implementation. When we know nothing it’s tempting to try to learn everything before beginning something new. However, much of the new knowledge you’ll acquire comes from the implementation process itself.

2. Fear of Failure

Sometimes when we get stuck in the planning phase, it’s because we are afraid of failing. The planning stage is safe. We feel productive without actually implementing anything. The “doing” is much scarier. I could sit here and recite oft-quoted, cliché advice about “failing forward” or how “the toughest journeys begin with one step” or how many times Thomas Edison failed before inventing the light bulb…but you’ve heard that all before. For me, I try to just embrace the fear rather than avoid it. Convert the fear to adrenaline. I’ve never parachuted out of an airplane before, but I would imagine that if people are afraid of jumping when they get into the plane, they are probably still afraid when they are about to take that first, big looooong step out of it. Do you trust your training, instructors and parachute and jump anyway? Or let the fear hold you back. (Parachutes…overcoming fear…oh goodness. I’m starting to sound like a motivational speaker)

3. Lack of Confidence

The final thing that leaves us stuck in the planning stages is our own lack confidence in our ability to complete the task. This is where I’m supposed to tell you that you can do anything if you just believe in yourself. Here is the thing: if you’ve done all your research, planned as much as you can and embraced the fear of starting something new, you now have three options:

1. Implement

2. Delegate

3. Abandon

Nobody really likes to talk about number 3 because it sounds like giving up. However, if after researching a new project, you come to the conclusion that your skill set is better suited for a different kind of task…then find that new task! Not all ideas are good ones and not all people will be successful at all things. The more time you waste on a project you’re never going to finish, the less time you can devote to pursing a task that is much more suited to your goals, abilities, and desires.

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