The Productivity Problem

I’ve always struggled to be productive, especially when I don’t have anything urgent to get done. So I thought I’d do a post, a bit of a discussion about why people can be so unproductive, and perhaps some solutions as to how we can get back on track.

Productivity, and getting things done, has never been my strong point. When it comes down to it, and I have a deadline, the work will get done. But often I could have done it sooner, better, and without much of the stress. It’s a problem I have in many instances, such as with getting up in the mornings. If I have something to get up for, then I’ll be up. But if I have nothing on, even if I plan to get up and get on with things, I often end up turning off my alarm and going straight back to sleep! It seems in this case to be a question of willpower, which I am aware I have very little of

The strangest thing I found, however, is that I really do want to work (when I say work, I mean revision and preparation for uni, so academic work mostly). I want to get stuff done, and learn, and revise. But I often can’t bring myself to do it. This summer has been a case in point. Despite having little else to do, I’ve done nowhere near as much work as I should have done. There have been times where I’ve been properly bored, and yet still haven’t been able to make myself work. This seems really strange to me – I’m actively looking for something to do, and yet I’m still picky about what that is. It makes me question how much laziness comes in to being unproductive. Some people will probably automatically equate being unproductive with laziness, but I’m not so sure that it’s that simple. Lack of productivity can be for a number of reasons: lack of willpower, dislike of what you’ve got to get done, other commitments, and many others.

I think one of the most important reasons suggesting that lack of productivity isn’t just laziness, is the whole practice of putting things off until the last minute. I don’t think this can be classed as too lazy, because the work gets done in the end. But a more productive person would have got it done out the way. Why don’t we just do this? It’s so much easier to do things as you get them (if that’s possible), or do little bits over a long period of time, rather than do everything in a mad rush just before it needs to be done. But for a lot of people, leaving things until the last minute is worth it, for the rest of the time that it frees up (my brother can attest to this!).

For me, I think that the problem is the lack of structure that comes with the holiday from university. During term, I have two deadlines a week that have to be met, so however late I have to stay up to get them done, they will get done. In the holidays, although I know exactly what has to be done, it’s different. Deadlines for essays are often months away, and revision is always difficult – I manage to convince myself that I can keep putting off revision, and then that whatever amount I’ve done is enough to pass exams. It won’t be the answer for everyone, but structure seems to be the key for me. Another simple solution might be to write a rolling to-do list, either on your phone (get an app that reminds you of things to do today), or in an obvious place in your room/house, where it will constantly remind you. There’s nothing like nagging guilt to help you get stuff done…!

I wanted to do this post because being productive has always been a struggle for me, and I’m sure a lot of people are the same. In the end, if nothing really helps to increase productivity, the only thing you can do is keep trying, and stick at it!

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