Sometimes, the key to productivity is to stop thinking about it!


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Feeling Discouraged, Stuck, Lazy?

Do you ever have one of those days when every single thing on your task list feels impossible or just too annoying… and you can’t seem to get yourself engaged on anything?

As leaders we will always have hard things to deal with that will make some days feel miserable: Impossible demands, nasty politics, aggressive competitors, arrogant bosses, low performers, schedule pressures, resource cuts, multiple stakeholders, difficult people…the list goes on and on.

Add to that too much travel, sleep deprivation, long commutes, and seasonal allergies!

People often ask me how I am so productive all the time.

The first point is that I am not productive all the time!

But I do have some things I do to make progress, when I’m not in the mood to do the work.

1. Move something forward, anything

If the important things on your task list are just too unappealing to consider at this moment…Pick something small. Pick something easy. And move it forward.

The feeling of moving something forward — anything– no matter how small, can break the curse.

This pattern of achieving something will settle in, and you’ll be ready to tackle something bigger.

2. Stop dreading it…

The other technique I use when I really need to do something I am dreading, is to stop thinking about it and just start doing it.

Once I get going, it’s never as bad as I thought it would be.

Grab a template, save it under an appropriate file name. Write something — anything. Write it badly. Find the first piece of information…Just start.

I find that thinking about it too much before you start doesn’t help you start!

For me the key to productivity is sometimes to simply stop worrying and to start doing.

3. Drop the guilt

This was probably the hardest one to master, but finally, I realized that as humans we simply can’t be highly productive every day.

Some days, even when you can get yourself to start, it doesn’t go well. Your brain has other plans that day.

On those days when it is just not going to happen I’ve learned to accept it, and more importantly, to not be wracked with guilt.

So on a day when being productive is off the table, the two remaining choices are:

1. Don’t be productive and be OK…Appreciate the day for other reasons
2. Don’t be productive and be miserable…let the guilt entirely ruin the day

This one was not easy, but I’m getting better at it.

This is why one of my favorite quotes is from Mary Anne Radmacher: “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow.”

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my Facebook page Patty Azzarello Practical Business Advice for Humans.


About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook