Productivity is key toward leading a rewarding, fulfilled life. When you are productive, you typically experience a sense of accomplishment that increases your self-confidence to achieve further endeavors. However, any productive effort is dependent on motivation and morale – your belief in yourself to reach your established goals. Certain factors contribute to motivation and morale that can lead to either procrastination or productivity. More specifically, there is one culprit that directly zaps motivation and productivity: MENTAL THOUGHT TRAPS.
We have all fallen victim to such mind traps – negative self-talk that wreaks havoc to your drive, productivity, and self-esteem. Unfortunately, most people are oblivious to these unproductive thinking patterns that lead to stress and anxiety. Such statements as, “Why does this always happen to me?” “I should be better.” “I hate…” or “I can’t…” defeat morale and interfere with productivity. When we get stuck in these mind traps, we create an endless cycle of negative self-talk that results in unproductive behaviors. Consequently, goals that repeatedly go unachieved impair future motivation and lead to further avoidance and procrastination.
On the other hand, the emotional aftermath of beating yourself up for not being productive is often guilt and stress. The lack of productivity promotes even more shame, anxiety, and low self-esteem. As you can see, over time, a vicious cycle of faulty beliefs, negative emotions, and procrastination ensues as individuals accept their disheartening fate as procrastinators. However, what if instead there are specific strategies to help you develop a personal action plan to bust stress, eliminate procrastination, and reach your fullest potential?
Just over one third of Americans feel they are doing a good job handling stress, according to a recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association. When the bills pile up, a term paper is due in three weeks, or a project at work is inching toward a deadline, it can be all too tempting to avoid responsibilities.
We’ve all thought:
“I always procrastinate, so there’s no point in getting started,” or, “I’ll be fired unless I give this presentation perfectly.” Thoughts like these control our behavior, bringing us to the brink of a deadline, which frequently causes dire stress and poor performance. Instead of thinking like Negative Nancy, turn into Positive Paula by thinking: “Habits can be changed. Even if I do just a little work, I can still get something done to reach my goal.”
By reducing procrastination and changing our thought pattern, we can lead happier, stress-free and productive lives. Take a look at these three tips to decrease anxiety and boost productivity:
- Break mountains into molehills: A task that is as large as a mountain may look as appealing as an ocean of sharks. Instead of thinking of the task as a mountain, break it down into several molehills. Approaching a task in smaller pieces brings a sense of triumph and accomplishment, motivating you to move forward.
- Make a list: Schedule your tasks for the day on a Post-It note or in a day planner. Decide how much time you will spend on each item, and relish crossing off tasks once you’ve completed them. Write down even the most mundane tasks – like doing the dishes or running to the bank – and you’ll find more productivity in each day.
- Visualize: Envision your success. Imagine: where are you? What colors are you wearing? Is it hot or cold? When you imagine every aspect of achieving your goal, your dream can become reality. By visualizing accomplishment, your senses award you with confidence, motivation, and energy to push forward.
Changing habits requires time, effort, energy, and above all – commitment. With the tips listed here, as well as others included in my book, Productive, Successful You!, you can discover how to manage time more effectively, and in turn, become more productive. Jump over hurdles and reach the finish line – with less stress.