Tag: procrastination

The 3 biggest productivity-killers.

I’ve been reflecting recently on what things make me and the people I know less productive. I’ve then categorized these into high-level ‘meta’ categories. Whilst one of these categories is entirely obvious, the other two may not be.

Read on…

1. Procrastination

Sometimes it’s a good idea to go and do something else. If, for example, you’re revising or have a big project on, getting out and doing something else could be just what the doctor ordered. That’s not procrastination, that’s taking a break. Procrastination is doing something to avoid doing something else. For example, finding cleaning the bathroom fascinating because you’ve got a deadline tomorrow and your creative juices aren’t flowing.

If you’re a serial procrastinator, you need to do something to break the cycle. I recommend you go and read Lifehacker’s excellent Top 10 Motivation Boosters and Procrastination Killers. 🙂

2. Self-consciousness

If you’re not as productive at work or with other people around, it’s probably due to self-consciousness. Even the most outwardly-confident and outgoing people – perhaps especially the most outwardly-confident – are susceptible to this. If how good you look when you’re doing something is as important as how well you achieve it, you need to rethink you’re approach.

Think about it. Long-term, are people more likely to be impressed by people who look like they’re productive or by people who, as Seth Godin would put it, ship? :-p

3. Ego

I’m guilty of this but I’ve seen this especially in other people. Those who have, or think they have, a reputation to maintain. At the lowest level, it’s checking Twitter, Facebook or other social networking sites eleventy-billion times per day to see if people have mentioned you. At the top end, it’s reacting and jumping on something because someone may  have said something which may have something to do with a thing that you’re known for. Think about it; we all know people like that.

My maternal grandmother, a wonderful woman whom I miss every time I think of her, inspired my love of quotations. In her kitchen she used to have a cupboard which was plastered with phrases and quotations. I remember what was right in the middle, repeated three times: “Never take offence!”

I honestly believe that taking offence is a huge productivity killer. Why? It encroaches into your ‘thought time’ and, like planning revenge, eats away at you. A case in point: occasionally I, like most people, get comments on this blog that don’t make it through the moderation filter. I could dwell on these, but I’ve learned to press ‘Delete’ and not give them a second thought. That way, they don’t affect my productivity at all! 😀

Do you agree with the above? What are YOUR biggest productivity-killers?

Modern procrastination and cycling trivialities.

iPhone photo of Alcan
A photo I took with my iPhone last weekend. It feels related somehow.


Some days it feels like someone’s trying to tell you something. At first it’s subtle, but then the coincidences stack up until you’re left in no doubt that there’s a message in there somewhere. See if you come to the same conclusion as me. Here’s what came my way in a single day recently:

1. Seth Godin on ‘modern procrastination’

I don’t know how he manages to churn out gems like these every day and convince us that everything is related to marketing:

Laziness in a white collar job has nothing to do with avoiding hard physical labor. “Who wants to help me move this box!” Instead, it has to do with avoiding difficult (and apparently risky) intellectual labor.

“Honey, how was your day?”

“Oh, I was busy, incredibly busy.”

“I get that you were busy. But did you do anything important?”

Busy does not equal important. Measured doesn’t mean mattered.

2. José Gonzalez – Cycling Trivialities

I’m fond of music by the looks-Spanish-but-is-actually-Swedish-of-Argentine-descent singer-songwriter. Last.fm, to which I’ve been ‘scrobbling’ songs for over 7 years, is fully aware of this and therefore served up Cycling Trivialities by José Gonzalez (from his album In Our Nature):

Too blind to know your best.
Hurrying through the forks without regrets.
Different now, every step feels like a mile.
All the lights seem to flash and pass you by.

So how’s it gonna be.
When it all comes down you’re cycling trivialities.

Don’t know which way to turn.
Every trifle becoming big concerns.
All this time you were chasing dreams,
without knowing what you wanted them to mean.

So how’s it gonna be.
When it all comes down you’re cycling trivialities.
So how’s it gonna be.
When it all comes down you’re cycling trivialities.

Who cares in a hundred years from now.
All the small steps, all your shitty clouds.
Who cares in a hundred years from now.
Who’ll remember all the players.
Who’ll remember all the clowns.

So how’s it gonna be.
When it all comes down you’re cycling trivialities.

So what does this really mean.
When it all comes down you’re cycling trivialities.
Cycling trivialities.
Cycling trivialities.

3. Correspondence

I’ve recently become a fan of the work of Alexander McCall Smith. I tend to avoid ‘popular’ writers as I’m a bit of a secret book snob (I refused to read anything written after 1950 until I was about 25…) I’ve just finished his The Right Attitude to Rain all about a middle-age female Scots philosopher and her mini moral dilemmas. My favourite series of his was actually that featuring Professor Von Igelfeld as it reminded me of Frasier (the only TV sitcom I’ve been able to bear), but I digress…

On page 123 of The Right Attitude to Rain one of the characters is left alone to deal with his ‘correspondence’. We’re not talking emails here, we’re talking hand-writing letters. It struck me that this has been a much more normal thing to do (albeit for a certain class of people) for a lot longer than emails.


So if you’d experienced these three things in quick succession, what would you have thought? I’ll add what it made me think to the comments below later this week. 🙂

To-do v2

For the last 26 years and 275 days (yes, I worked it out…) I’ve approached ‘To Do’ lists in a very old-school way. We’re talking bullet points here. Obviously, given my ability to procrastinate and the number of things I don’t cross off my list each day, it’s not an amazingly successful system. I was delighted, therefore, to come across this post on lifehack.org with the following graphic:

Urgency vs. Importance Read more →