We all want to accomplish more in life, gain confidence, and stop holding ourselves back. There’s a passion project we want to start or a new hobby we want to try, but we just never get around to doing it. We have obstacles in our path that keep us from getting stuff done.
If you feel like there are things keeping you from completing your work, you aren’t alone. Be that a side-business or your main work, there’s always something keeping us from being productive.
But there are ways that you can break through the obstacles that are in your path. You don’t know the best way to move that obstacle if you don’t know what it is in the first place, so it’s time to identify our obstacles and take the right action to move past it.
Everyone has this bad habit. We put off starting a project because to do so, we have to enter a world of uncertainty, overwhelm, and uncomfortableness. When we take on a new task or a new project, we don’t know what we’re doing. We are in unfamiliar territory and our minds crave the comfort and pull of certainty that we once had — social media scrolling, meaningless tasks that we’ve done a million times, easy projects that don’t tax our minds.
When we have the desire to revert back into our comfort zones, we have to lean into the feeling of discomfort. We know we are procrastinating, so we need to learn how to just start. Create an environment that helps you focus, break the project into smaller pieces, and practice staying in the project for a certain amount of time. The better you get at living within uncertainty, the more confidence you gain in other moments of unknown.
Multitasking and task switching are also forms of procrastination. If you need guidance on how to practice focus and determine your priorities, read about how you can overcome your fear of overwhelm and deep dive into a task. You’ve never felt true feelings of confidence until you’ve found flow in your work.
One of the roots of procrastination can be perfectionism. Not only are you putting off starting an unfamiliar project, you’re also worried about getting it perfect.
Have you ever said to yourself “I’ll start this task at 2:00”, only to look up at 2:01 and think “I missed my chance. Might as well start at 3:00”?
If you’re waiting for the perfect conditions to start, you’re going to be waiting for the rest of your life. The perfect time is now.
Writers call it “the rough first draft” for a reason. The point is to start, even though it’s messy, knowing that there’s always opportunity to improve it later. You can’t edit a blank page, so get something out there. No one is ever going to see that first draft, so focus instead on getting it out and polishing it up later.
While most things are in our control, sometimes it feels better to blame others for our lack of productivity. We get frustrated at others because they don’t follow the same standards we hold ourselves to. They delay their parts of the project, stand in your doorway and chat too long, or are just generally annoying. As an introvert, I struggle with the last one.
While we can’t control others, we can control ourselves and our reactions to others. When people are holding up the project, do what you can to fulfill your part and let them control theirs. Set up boundaries so you can stay on task, such as closing your door, scheduling deep work, or keep headphones in (spoiler: you don’t actually have to have music on, but the sight of headphones might keep Chatty Cathy from approaching you every five minutes). If people annoy you, it might be time to find a new position that suits your personality.
Control what you can control and focus on producing quality work.
We live in the age of distraction, specifically from our technology. We get constant updates sent to our phones and our desktops. We have red badges on our apps that scream “read me”, “pay attention”, or “you’re missing something here”. That constant pull is exhausting… and completely within our control.
We have to take responsibility for creating our own obstacles. If we want to get stuff done, we have to quiet the noise that’s all around us. Turn off your phone, set boundaries as to when you can check your email or spend time on social media, and experience what it feels like to get into a flow state.
No, not all distractions are within our control — our office phone rings, we get pulled into an emergency meeting, or our boss asks us to do something time sensitive — but when we manage ourselves, we manage our productivity in those moments.
While creating a structure can lead to overplanning or procrastination (the structure isn’t perfect so we can’t start yet), having a system of getting stuff done is a surefire way to increase your productivity. Plan ahead so you know what to work on and when to work on it, and then communicate that plan to anyone who needs to know. Structure and boundaries are an excellent start to conquering obstacles and being productive. And when you get stuff done, you feel good — which translates into the rest of your life.