8 productivity experts confess the mistakes they still make

8 Productivity experts confess the mistakes they still make [TPP#43]

“I don’t have time” is one of the most common struggles I hear people talk about. It’s easy to feel frustrated and overwhelmed when we try to be more organised and plan out our days only to have the plan ruined by endless distractions. When this happens, focusing and sustaining “deep work” is almost impossible. As we try to catch up, we get further away from actually accomplishing our goals and end up spending less time on the things we really care about.

The good news is, you’re not alone…

Today I’d like to share the mistakes that productivity experts from around the world still get caught out by.

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Mike Vardy

Mike Vardy

Productivity Coach & Blogger at Productivityist.com

1) What is the most common productivity mistake you still get caught out by?

I occasionally still get caught out by the idea that I can do more in a day than is possible – and still do it well. It’s always a challenge to strike that balance between quantity and quality. I find that journaling every day helps keep this pitfall at bay, but sometimes even that doesn’t work. So I dust myself off and strive to do better the next day.

2) Why do you think you keep getting caught out by this?

I’m a people pleaser at heart and sometimes I feed that at the expense of my long-term interests. The pull of the demands and desires of others can be stronger than the internal needs and wants I have, so I work to fulfil those things and wind up leaving my own agenda (or aspects of it) on the table.

3) What are you doing to try and overcome this?

I’m getting better at saying no and setting better boundaries..and respecting them myself. The combination of those two things reduces the decision fatigue that comes with trying to do more than I possibly can in a day and allows me to deal with what I need to do and do more of what I really want to do more often than not.

'I occasionally still get caught out by the idea that I can do more in a day than is possible' via @mikevardyClick To Tweet

Nean James

Neen James

Author and Speaker at NeenJames.com

1) What is the most common productivity mistake you still get caught out by?

Social Media vortex: When I am procrastinating, Facebook is more fascinating. As an attention expert, I am conscious of where I invest my time and energy and yet if I am procrastinating on writing a client proposal, finishing a chapter of my book or even finalizing a keynote speech for a client… social media is a temptress.

2) Why do you think you keep getting caught out by this?

People’s lives are fascinating, and it is often more enjoyable to mindlessly scroll through motivational quotes on Pinterest or friend’s vacation photos than it is to complete the strategic work to grow my speaking business. It’s a short-term distraction impacting a long term strategy.

3) What are you doing to try and overcome this?

Anti-Social – seriously I have an app installed on my Mac that allows me to block websites for periods of time. I use it constantly. I also set myself time limits e.g. I do a 15-minute social media ‘drive by’ while drinking my morning green juice so that I get my fix for the morning of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn and then use it as a treat for a break later in the day or between appointments.

'As an attention expert, I am conscious of where I invest my time and energy' via @neenjamesClick To Tweet

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins

Get it Done Guy Podcast Host and Productivity Coach at SteverRobbins.com

1) What is the most common productivity mistake you still get caught out by?

Believing that my computer will increase my productivity because on one, tiny micro-dimension it makes some real task marginally faster. Social media is especially destructive, with web browsing in general a close second, followed by email. I think there may be other activities I can do on a computer that are actually useful, but I can’t remember them right now because there’s too much email I need to respond to.

2) Why do you think you keep getting caught out by this?

Because computers actually were useful for a few years in history, and my brain still believes they are. Indeed, they ARE still useful for a very limited number of specific tasks, and my brain can’t tell the difference between micro-task productivity and overall productivity.

3) What are you doing to try and overcome this?

My dream is to hire someone to do all my online work for me. Until that dream is realized, however, I use HeyFocus to cut off my access to social media. I only check email at pre-determined times, and my business partner and I police each other on not getting sucked into our technology.

I could go on about technology for a very long time. It’s given businesses unprecedented productivity while, I truly believe, setting the human race on a course for disaster on many dimensions. Without major changes in human nature and human culture, I think high tech’s negative effects outweigh its benefits.

(Says the man working on building an internet business!)

'My business partner and I police each other on not getting sucked into our technology' via @GetItDoneGuyClick To Tweet

Shawn Blanc

Shawn Blanc

Creator of the Focus Course

1) What is the most common productivity mistake you still get caught out by?

Casually checking my email inbox.

Ideally, I’d open my email just once or twice a day, work my way through the messages, and then be done with it. But that’s rarely the case.

2) Why do you think you keep getting caught out by this?

Well, for one thing, it’s just something to do to pass the time: check in on the inbox to see if there are any new messages. I also have this nagging feeling in the back of my mind wondering if there’s an urgent email waiting for me to say that my websites are down or my identity has been stolen or something like that.

3) What are you doing to try and overcome this?

For one, I keep my iPhone’s email app off my first home screen. And also I schedule time in my day to go through email. The goal is to keep to that schedule by not checking email during other times of the day and also by focusing on my email inbox when it’s time to do so. Easier said than done!

'I keep my iPhone’s email app off my first home screen and schedule time to go through email' via @shawnblancClick To Tweet

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Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey

Productivity Blogger and Speaker at ALifeofProductivty.com

1) What is the most common productivity mistake you still get caught out by?

My biggest weakness is food—and oftentimes the busier I get, the less healthy I eat. But what we eat has a surprisingly large impact on our energy, and therefore our productivity—our body converts everything we eat into glucose, which is the brain’s main source of energy. I’m better than I used to be, but when it comes to productivity, food is definitely my biggest weakness, and quite often I feel my energy levels suffer because of it!

2) Why do you think you keep getting caught out by this?

For me, I think it has to do with how stimulating I find food. One study I encountered a while back found that our brain releases as much dopamine when we eat two cheeseburgers as when we orgasm! Like a lot of people, food makes me crazy-happy. Sometimes I don’t mind swallowing the productivity costs of an unhealthy meal for that reason, but other times I regret it.

3) What are you doing to try and overcome this?

For me, tracking my body composition week-to-week helps a ton. Every week, I print a chart of exactly how much body fat I have, so I can watch the number fall with each passing week (I print off a few copies and put them up around my office and apartment). And on average, I’ve lost about a pound of body fat each week since the start of the year. One meal is never enough to disrupt the overall trend, and tracking my progress each week keeps me in check!

'My biggest weakness is food—and oftentimes the busier I get, the less healthy I eat' via @wigglechickenClick To Tweet

Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

Productivity Author at LauraVanderkam.com

1) What is the most common productivity mistake you still get caught out by?

I follow my bliss on the internet. I can lose an hour to reading comments on some of my favorite blogs.

2) Why do you think you keep getting caught out by this?

In my defence, there are some interesting conversations going on out there! However, I probably waste too much time and emotional energy trying to respond to comments that I think are wrong somehow.

3) What are you doing to try and overcome this?

The key thing is making sure my internet wandering doesn't keep me from tackling other important priorities. So I make a short priority list each day with my most important tasks, and make sure they get done. As long as they do, I try to cut myself a little slack on the internet wandering, though really, 30 minutes (instead of, say, 2 hours) is probably fine.

'I make a short priority list each day with my most important tasks, and make sure they get done' via @lvanderkamClick To Tweet

Julia Roy

Julia Roy

Productivity Blogger & Coach at JuliaRoy.com

1) What is the most common productivity mistake you still get caught out by?

I get caught up in consumption rather than creation. Every day there are so many new interesting articles to read, TED Talks to watch, podcasts to listen to and TV shows to watch. When the work gets tough, or I get bored, it’s easy to distract myself by reading, listening or watching something interesting rather than pushing through the resistance and shipping work that matters.

2) Why do you think you keep getting caught out by this?

Managing my attention has always been a challenge for me. It’s the reason I became obsessed with productivity in the first place. But I also believe, whether attention is a problem for you or not, the age of interruption we live in makes filtering out the noise and focusing really difficult and in some cases nearly impossible.

3) What are you doing to try and overcome this?

I am 3 weeks into a 60-day multimedia detox. That means no YouTube, no Hulu, no Netflix, no mindless media consumption. By cutting out all video consumption from my day, I’ve been able to dramatically improve not just my productivity, but also my happiness. Most of the media we allow to take up our time and attention is not worthy of it and it makes me feel good that I’m no longer giving it mine.

'When the work gets tough, or I get bored, it’s easy to distract myself' via @juliaroyClick To Tweet
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