Maybe sometimes you feel like you’re winning and you’re on fire. You’re ticking things off your to-do list like your life depends on it. And other times it just seems like your to-do list has a mind of its own and is fiendishly out of control.
Do you feel like your to-do list is completely out of control?
It was during one of these moments that I read Graham Alcott’s book “How to be a productivity ninja”. Having attended the book launch, I knew that this book would be able to help. But as with all remedies for bad habits and behaviour, we don’t turn to them until we’re actually *in* the doo-daa!
It’s a great read if you want to create clarity in your mind around the information overload that swarms us all; emails 24/7, social media updates and messages, work to-do lists, home projects, voicemails, post… the list goes on. Graham does a fab job at helping you to change how you view all of this so that by the end you feel a little dose of zen-like calm descending on your productivity habits (he loves a bit of zen!).
How our mind affects productivity
What I like about the book is its holistic approach to productivity. It does that because Graham recognises our human nature and the role our mind plays in derailing our productivity.
Of course it’s packed with practical stuff like how to categorise your inbox (that alone was a huge help for me) but Graham also talks about the non-practical stuff. Things like mindfulness and managing our minds, listening to our resistance, understanding why we get stressed and how we respond to stress.
This is territory that I understand all too well. So as I was reading the book, I started to become aware of the head trash that’s getting in the way of my own productivity.
One of the things I realised was that I have a need feel organised and be in control. The problem is that my to-do list can’t sit still for one minute to enable me to feel that so I end up feeling chaotic and disorganised. I also realised that I didn’t like the idea of my to-do list. It was like I almost had a fear of it.
These feelings of chaos and disorganised-ness were butting up against my need to feel organised and in control, and that was causing a boatload of internal conflict.
When inner conflict saps your productivity
Internal conflict is when there are parts of you pushing and pulling in different directions. This usually leads to you going round in circles. Or you flip flop between the things that are fighting each other. Whichever it is, you end up getting stuck and not moving forward. Procrastination at its finest!
When you have different parts of your mind fighting itself, it can bring up quite of bit of emotion. We can get frustrated, annoyed, angry, disappointed… ALL. THE. FEELS! And in the context of productivity it can quickly feel overwhelming.
The problem is that this emotional energy just gets in the way. It’s like a fog that blocks our view and we lose clarity, or confidence in our decision making as to what’s important. We just can’t think clearly and this just saps our productivity even more.
Not only are we struggling with figuring out what we should be prioritising, but we’re spending mental energy on doing stuff (hopefully ticking some items off our to-do list). Add to that our mind is busy going back and forth between the things it’s in conflict with. Basically, it’s chaos in there!
No wonder we feel like we’re getting nothing done.
Identifying your productivity conflicts is a good place to start
This is why identifying your conflicts are always a good place to start wen it comes to clearing head trash, especially around productivity.
So what happens when you clear the conflicts? This will be different for everyone, but let me tell you what happened when I cleared my head trash around feeling disorganised.
I was able to approach my to-do list with a much clearer mind minus the panicky feelings.
Once I felt calmer about what I had to do, I came up with a pretty fantastic to-do list. It was well written, nicely structured, achievable and clear. It had been ages since my to-do list had been so organised!
This meant that I was able to actually just get on with it, rather than fruitlessly chase my tail.
The result was a load of things ticked off my list and a lot more focus and clarity. Bingo!
Head Trash Clearance Tips
If you’d like to address some of the head trash that’s sapping your productivity, then here are a few culprits you might want to clear.
- feeling disorganised
- feeling chaotic
- being distracted
- to-do list (in case you have a fear of it, as I did!)
- feeling overwhelmed
It might feel a little counter-intuitive to start another to-do list when you’re struggling with the one you already have, but this is the one to-do list that really matters. Find out why your head trash clearance to-do list is the one list that really matters here.