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Productivity Paralysis: So Much to Do, But Nothing Gets Done

Thursday, 21 March 2024 | Scheepers, Cor

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Productivity Paralysis: So Much to Do, But Nothing Gets Done - Cor Scheepers – Consultant @ pm-ideas

Productivity Paralysis can be the result of a number of reasons. Is your to-do list never ending? Are you being interrupted when you try to do something? Are you dealing with too much information? Maybe too many choices that you have to make? Instead of making progress, you seize up and nothing gets done. Your frustration levels increase.

Do these scenarios sound familiar?

Productivity Paralysis is an unconscious reaction when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Your to-do list is so out of control that you cannot imagine how you will ever get everything done. You are unsure of the priority of these competing tasks. Decision-making is tough and you freeze, not being capable of taking any action.

Tasks that one took several hours can know be completed in seconds, thanks to ever-developing new technology. Every new technological development requires you to update your biological operating system, your brain, to keep pace. Your brain is jumping from one task to another constantly. Dealing with all these information inputs can reduce your productivity, the result of information overload. You are not really aware that it is happening. You feel that if you take five minutes off, you are going to fall seven minutes behind.

Your brain is being confronted with more information than it can handle. Tasks on your to-do list now start looking like threats (scarcity, failure, disappointment, not enough time, or not enough energy). These threats can feel overwhelming, and then you get stuck.

You know that your decisions matter and this creates anxiety in your burden of choice. You may avoid making important decisions because you are scared of making the wrong one. You may pretend that you never had a choice in the first place. Choosing where to direct your attention is hard – that is the anxiety of freedom. It is even harder in your age of split-second decisions and daunting to-do lists.

Some ways to break out of Productivity Paralysis include and regain control of your productivity:

  • Impose some productivity time: Most things that you care about doing, require concentration. Multitasking is a myth. You are not really doing all these things at once because your brain does not work that way. You are rapidly shifting between these tasks and every shift comes with a metabolic cost and burns up glucose, your brain’s main source of energy. Put a sign on your door that you are ‘closed’ and put your computer in ‘do not disturb mode’ for a period of one to two hours that you are in focus mode. Everybody should know that they cannot reach you in this time. By minimizing these distractions, you will be able to fully immerse yourself in your task and maintain your focus.
  • Prioritize your tasks: Identify the most important and urgent tasks and tackle them first. This helps you make progress and avoid being overwhelmed by trying to do everything at once.
  • Setting clears goals: Define what you want to achieve with each task and set a timeline for completion. This will provide you with clarity and direction, helping you to stay focused and motivated.
  • Make things feel more manageable: Take small steps. Break down items on your to-do list into small, manageable tasks. Define simple steps that you can complete in 10-15 minutes. You can focus on one step at a time. Coax yourself to start with some easy wins. Progress is more important than perfection.
  • Use productivity tools and techniques: To streamline your workflow, consider using task-management apps, time blocking methods or the Pomodoro technique. Here you work for 25 minutes as a stretch of focused work and then take a break of five minutes. After four of these intervals, you can take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. These tools and techniques will enhance your productivity and reduce your feeling of being overwhelmed.
  • Bring in reinforcements: If you find it difficult to get started on your own, speak to a trusted colleague, friend, or family member. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  • Stop some of the flows of information: Do you really need all your social media apps? Silence their notifications and only look at them after hours.
  • Take a quick nap: Naps hit the reset button in your brain. A 20-minute nap is equivalent to an extra ninety minutes of sleep the night before. It does help to refresh your brain.

The paralysis that comes with so much choice is a sign of progress. It is a good problem to have. You would rather have too many choices than none at all. Managing them to stay productive requires more tools in your mental toolbox than generations before you needed in theirs. Try out these suggested ways and break free!







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