Productivity & Consistency
Consistency Increases Productivity
Recently, during one of my downtime breaks, I found myself reflecting on the times that I’ve felt the most content and satisfied with who I am and where I find myself.
As I thought about the different phases of my life I found that the times when I felt most content compared to those when I didn’t, were when I got involved in activities that required me to put in consistent effort and maintain a certain level of discipline, whilst at the same time being able to track my progress in said activities.
Conversely, the times where I had no direction and seemed to be doing things ad hoc were the time times where I felt most stressed, unsatisfied, and least productive.
As we’ve slowed down a little after our last busy stretch, we discussed how and why this was and wanted to share a little of our discussions with you.
In a Slump
I, like most people, get fed up from time to time, especially when I’ve got a lot to do, but for whatever reason, I don’t start them; or when I do start them I realise that I have more work than I planned for!
Frustration soon sets in because it either feels like it’s impossible to make any progress or I become overwhelmed and eventually nothing gets done. It only takes a few sessions like that to cause your productivity levels to fall into a slump whilst your dissatisfaction levels reach all time highs.
And, as is the case with these kind of situations, you can find that your lack of progress leads to less productivity which leads into even more lack of progress, and so it goes on.
The Lack of Progress
The feeling of not making any or significant progress whether related to a specific life goal or routine tasks can lead to feelings of despair, helplessness or even depression.
Perceived failure to accomplish a task or reach a goal can reinforce a negative self image which can make it more difficult to start any future projects for fear of failing again.
This compounds the problem because the act of accomplishing a goal or completing a task can help raise your self esteem which can then act as a positive reinforcement mechanism to help fuel your will to complete further goals.
Turning things Around
Fortunately the steps needed to break out of this cycle are relatively simple to start. The trick is continue to use them until they become a habit or part of your being.
- Divide and Prioritise
Whatever task you have, look at what the big goal or purpose is and keep this as the higher level or main purpose for the sub task(s).
Subtask(s) are made up of the smaller tasks that need to be completed in order to complete the higher level goal. Make these subtasks as small, focused and defined as possible.
The result will be that you have manageable, and more importantly, visible steps towards your goal. Each task completed helps motivate you to do the next one as you come closer to achieving your goal.
- Do something every day towards your goal
Make it your number one priority to do something towards your goal every day. This will give your willpower a boost so that it eventually becomes second nature for you to complete the tasks that get you closer to your goal. As you become more proficient your productivity levels will grow and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get things done.
- Stay Consistent
Even when you don’t feel like doing your planned tasks for the day, just start. The act of starting can help focus your mind for the task at hand and you may even be surprised at how productive you’ve been when you finally complete your task(s).
For example, I’m writing this after a long day of training, completing various planned tasks, completing various unplanned other tasks, and feeling like I want to go to bed. However, the consistency bug is in me now and I’m happy with the results so far 😉
Also, schedule your planned work for the same time every day! I’ve found that by doing this I now naturally find myself just getting on with my tasks without too much pontification.
What We’ve Learned
There’s nothing said in this blog that we don’t already know:
- Plan, divide and prioritise your goals/tasks
- Work on your tasks every day
- Stay consistent
Being productive can help you feel more content with yourself and your life in general, and being content helps to boost your productivity.
Progressing from Here
I don’t think life is all about goals, but they are a useful tool that can help you appreciate life in general. Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin , Volume 34 (11): 14 – Nov 1, 2008. Take it easy people…
“There certainly are benefits to thinking of goals at a higher level; these higher level goals are more self-relevant and holistic and give us a sense of direction in our lives. However, when focusing solely on the higher level goal, a person is more vulnerable to the detrimental and amotivating effects of momentary failure. This does not mean we should never look up from what we are doing: There are times when the prize must be referenced, re-examined, or even rejected. However, as a general strategy, it seems that especially during times of difficulty, it is more beneficial to keep your nose to the grindstone.”Houser-Marko, L., & Sheldon, K. (2008). Eyes on the Prize or Nose to the Grindstone? The Effects of Level of Goal Evaluation on Mood and Motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(11), 1556-1569.