What Keeps Us from Being Productive?

Let’s take a look again at productivity, or the lack thereof.

What Keeps Us from Being Productive?


There’s a long list of stuff, which usually includes

  • procrastination
  • distractions
  • people interrupting us
  • too much to do
  • not enough time
  • poor time management
  • bad organization
  • clutter
  • lack of space/tools/resources
  • inability to set priorities
  • indecision
  • nervous tics
  • terrible bosses
  • a bad childhood
  • the blue fairy
  • gremlins
  • etc, ad infinitum

All that stuff is legitimate. It’s real. (Except maybe the gremlins.)

Say you’ve been having recurring headaches lately.

You go see the doctor, and he prescribes a stronger pain killer for you, which stops the headaches.

But soon you start having problems in your arms and hands. Pain and numbness, which comes and goes.

You go to the chiropractor, get an adjustment, feel better.

But in another week, the pain and numbness in your arms is even worse. Plus the headaches are back and the pain killer isn’t working anymore.

You go back to the doctor, who does an x-ray and determines that you have a pinched nerve.

Until you get that pinched nerve fixed, you’ll keep having these symptomatic problems. You can treat them, relieve them, or ignore them. Until you fix the cause, though, they will keep happening, and quite likely getting worse.

The Symptom is Not the Cause

Most of the items in our “keeping me unproductive” list are symptomatic. They’re real, and they cause us pain, but they are not the root cause.

We can deal with them, one symptom at a time. We can treat them. Relieve them. Ignore them.

But until we deal with the root cause of these symptoms, we will keep encountering these symptoms.

The question, then, is not “how to stop myself from procrastinating?” but “WHY?”

  • Why am I procrastinating in the first place?
  • Why am I hesitating?
  • What am I avoiding?
  • What emotions or beliefs are leading to this procrastination?
  • What cause is producing this symptom of procrastination?

That’s my advice today.

Look at the symptoms, and then look deeper.

  • Don’t solve things on a surface level anymore. Don’t waste time rearranging the clutter in your life. Ask yourself why the clutter is there in the first place?
  • Who let that clutter into your life? (You did.)
  • Who is allowing it to remain there? (You are.)
  • Who is the only one who can get it out? (You again.)
  • So why haven’t you done that?

Find out the why. Find the underlying cause. Otherwise you will spend a lot of time symptom-chasing and symptom-fixing, gain a brief interlude of productivity, and then find yourself dealing with yet another symptom.

I think there are a few common causes for most anti-productivity symptoms. I’ll talk about those next time.

In the meantime, what cause(s) do you see in your own life?

What is producing those symptoms of unproductivity?

What you think the problem is may not be the problem at all.

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