Why You're More Productive Than You Think (And Just Need Clarity)

So you think you have a problem with productivity.

Almost everyone struggles with productivity.  We want to be superhuman and accomplish all the things all the time! But that's really difficult. When you do finally find the time to work on something important to you, you feel like you're not using your time wisely. And that makes you look into productivity tips and hacks around the web, including finding this blog post. And you get into a cycle of thinking you have a productivity problem.

Yet there are tasks you complete everyday.

Make a list of the tasks you do everyday. What are they? How often do they occur?  Tasks that you actually complete tend to be both urgent and important. I will pay this bill today (important) because it is due by midnight (urgent). I will drive my sister to practice right now (urgent) because she relies on me for a ride (important). I bet you will find dozens of examples of tasks you regularly complete because they are both urgent and important. (Note - If you're struggling to get out of bed or complete anything on a daily basis, please seek out medical care.)

This concept of urgent and important is part of a larger matrix known as the Eisenhower Box, crafted after President Eisenhower's ideas on productivity and time management.  A great visualization and spreadsheet example lives over on James Clear's website.

But the tasks that gnaw at you are the ones that keep getting pushed aside.

These tasks are important to you, but not really urgent. I think I should exercise (no urgency, but important for your health).  My friends mean the world to me (important), so I'd like to call them more often (no urgency). I really want to make a difference in this world (important), but I don't know how to make it pay my bills (not urgent to figure it out).  We all have hopes and dreams of goals we would like to accomplish, from big to small.

So tasks that aren't important or urgent keep getting in your way.

Instead of prioritizing our time for the bigger goals, we get lost in the tasks that are neither important or urgent.  Things like scrolling through all of our Snapchat updates (or other social media).  Binge watching the latest television show (is that really on your bucket list?).  Mostly tasks and things that could actually be deleted or dropped from our lives. If we truly valued them, we would consider them as important as treat them accordingly. Instead, they should just be eliminated from our priorities and goals.

There are tricks for making yourself do the things that are important to you.

Force yourself to make them urgent. Get into the mentality of "I must do it today." Each day adds up to your overall goal. How can each goal be broken down into something that must occur regularly?  "I want to exercise" could turn into "It is important for me to exercise and I must complete it every other day in order to see results." Be specific about your goals and include an accountability partner if it helps you.  A coach can help you target these steps as well.  Anything that can make your goal urgent will help it move into the box of things that actually get done.

Next time you think you have a productivity problem, think of your goals where they fit in the Eisenhower Box.

If your goals need realigned in the Eisenhower Box, do it! 

Now it's time to share. What tricks do you use to make tasks both urgent and important? Please comment below.