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There are a lot of advice columns, blogs, articles, and magazines that tout impressively simple strategies to “beat” the productivity battle in record time, and for most of us reading such material – as we groggily slurp down some liquid caffeine whilst squinting at the screen through our AM brain fog – these methods just seem… too good to be true. Why? Well, because we’ve tried them…

Can’t get started on that torturous email? Give yourself a five-minute break doing something you love! Two hours later, when you’re almost half way through an episode on Netflix so you might as well finish watching, that torturous email is no closer to being written.  

Exhausted by the mere thought of another hour of work so instead you’re just watching the clock, waiting for 5 p.m.? Take a 20-minute power nap; that’ll energize you for the rest of the night! Oops, you just woke up drooling on your keyboard. Yep, it’s past midnight and you’re still at the office. Don’t think that counts as overtime, do you? 

Groggy? Exercise! Overwhelmed? Meal prep! Stressed? Make a to-do list of things you’ve already done and cross them off! Are these so-called solutions really meant to be taken seriously? Well, if you’ve tried any of them, then you already know the answer, but the short version is: no. These are not going to “solve” your “problem” of productivity, because your real issue lies within the very phrasing of that sentence.

If you continue to think of “being productive” as a problem that needs solving, then that’s what it will be – a never-ending battle. When you train yourself to redefine what productivity is and what it looks like in your life, it can stop existing as a problem, and start just being a process. What’s the difference, you ask? Let’s frame it with a slightly awful analogy. If you want to make coffee, but the coffee pot is broken, that’s a problem. If you don’t have any coffee beans, that’s also a problem. But if you have coffee beans and your machine is working perfectly, then all you have to do is begin the process – filling it with water, finding a coffee filter, eyeballing the amount of beans needed – and there’s no problem. Nothing is actually preventing you from making, and then drinking, said coffee. 

The self-talk that is constantly running through our minds consciously and unconsciously affects our behavior. Yes, your mom was right; if you keep thinking your feet are too big, you’re going to keep tripping over your feet! It’s up to you whether or not your self-talk is mostly positive or mostly negative. We have a tendency to wake up in the morning, and begin counting the things we’ve done wrong or ways we’re deficient. If your first thought is, “Oh no, look at the time, I meant to wake up at six!” or “I still have five things left on my to-do list from yesterday!” then your message to yourself is that you’ve already messed up, you’re already behind, you’re already not meeting your own standards.

So change your standards, and change your self-talk. Affirm yourself in the morning. Don’t start off with an inner dialogue enumerating the ways in which you are not a success; begin your day celebrating the opportunity and possibility of being successful at anything you put your mind to. After all, how can you have failed at something when you really haven’t done anything yet?! It may sound hippy-dippy, but challenge yourself to monitor your self-talk for an entire week. Changing your mindset to reflect inner positivity is a proven path towards outer productivity, every day. 

And if you need any more help getting out of your own way, just reach out. We’re here to help you maximize your productivity and your potential. 

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