We all want to get more done but we so often get in our own way.
Just this week, I’ve come back from a festival buzzing with ideas. There are so many things I want to get done this summer. I feel alive just thinking about them.
And yet, I spent a grand total of 0 minutes working towards any of that yesterday. I found all sorts of other things that needed doing - some of which were completely valid (hello, sleep), others definitely less so (I’m looking at you, Netflix).
I believe that understanding the problem is half the solution. As Albert Einstein said,
So, why do we find ourselves stuck in neutral and not taking the action we want?
You're Giving Yourself Too Much Time.
Parkinson’s Law states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
We are all guilty of allowing ourselves too much time to complete tasks. We equate how we feel about a task (reluctant, scared, confused) with how much time it will require so we overestimate the amount of time required. Or, quite frankly, we’re just lazy with our boundaries around our time - we allow work to fill our lives.
Halve the amount of time you would normally allocate for a task - you'll be amazed at how much more you achieve with a bit of time pressure.
You Scared Of Being Uncomfortable.
None of us like to be uncomfortable. Our brains are wired to prioritise instant gratification and to avoid uncertainty, novelty and failure. This is how we stay safe.
Unfortunately, this is also how we stay stuck. Because the unknown is always uncomfortable. Success means doing new things and risking failure and that scares us.
Being uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s not working or you’re doing badly. Discomfort doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. You can either be uncomfortable because you're growing or uncomfortable because you're stagnating but either way, discomfort isn't going anywhere so time to embrace it.
Notice the feeling - the physical feeling in your body, not just a mental idea of it — and see how it feels. Where is it located in your body? How would you describe the sensation? Can you give it an energy, a color, a sound? Stay with the feeling; allow it to be there.
Accept that the uncertainty and the discomfort are part of the deal. No hero sets out on a journey knowing how it will end. One step at a time, you’re expanding your comfort zone, your zone of genius, your hero range. And with each step, you’re getting stronger, and inspiring the world to do the same.
You're a Perfectionist.
Perfectionism can be paralysing. Consumed by the fear of not meeting those completely unrealistic standards, we can find ourselves not doing anything at all or wrapping ourselves up in a highly critical narrative of what we are doing. Nothing ever feels good enough.
Be kind to yourself. Get comfortable with the shitty first draft - it’s an opportunity to get feedback and improve. Just remember, B- work can change people’s lives. Work you never produce won’t change anything.