My 3 Biggest Productivity Challenges

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Hello and welcome to the Productive Therapist podcast! My name is Uriah Guilford. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist and also a productivity coach for therapists. 

So today I want to talk to you a little bit about my three biggest productivity challenges. Just in case you think that I’m always super productive and destroying my task list, I want to share a few of my personal productivity challenges with you. 

This is constantly a work in progress, like all of us. But I’m also going to tell you how I’m trying to address each one of these. 

So the first one – and you might be able to relate – is taking on too many projects. So with two businesses and right around twenty-five employees, I’ve got a lot on my plate, as you can imagine. 

And I have this problem with constant ideas that feel inspiring and creative that I want to pursue, so I have to decide what I can and cannot do.

So what I try to do is currently, in the past about two months, I’ve been limiting myself to usually no more than six work hours per day, or less.

So what this does is it helps me to…it puts a constraint on what I’m able to take on, so I can only handle as many projects as I can fit into about six hours per day or roughly around thirty hours per week. And that’s something that I’m really working on doing and it’s helping so far. 

In addition to that, I try to limit my quarterly goals to no more than about seven that are achievable in roughly ninety days.

But I’m not going to lie to you that there are definitely times, even recently, when I’ve felt like I’m trying to do too much and it feels stressful trying to fit all that into the time that I’ve given myself. So this probably means I should let go of some projects or move them into quarter two or quarter three of 2021.

So the first challenge there is taking on too many projects.

The second one is another one that I’m sure you can relate to, which is distraction and procrastination. We all deal with this on some level, some of us more than others. 

But I constantly, if I’m being honest, want to be distracted and want to procrastinate certain things, because some of the projects and the tasks that I want to get done are the more difficult things that might not be quite as much fun.

So I do often find myself spending too much time checking email and messaging my team and doing things like this week, which was adding a really cool video header to the website, which I’ll be honest, was not the most important thing on my list on Wednesday. But I did it anyways because I guess I wanted a break from the more challenging work, because there’s the sense of feeling like you can check easy tasks off your list and it feels good – send an email, respond to messages, those kinds of things. And I don’t know about you, but I could spend basically all my work hours every day just doing those things without really tackling the bigger things that are more important. 

So recently I’ve been using this system called Analog. I’ll actually put a link in the show notes. It’s a really cool little piece of walnut wood that holds a stack of cards and you use one card per day to simply write down your most important tasks and then check them off throughout the day. You can flip it over, put notes on the back. 

So this is something I’ve done for many years, but this is just a new sort of nifty productivity tool that I bought. But the idea is to write down the most important tasks for the day. 

So on my task list in ToDoist, which is the app that I use, there might be ten, fifteen, somewhere in that range, ten or fifteen tasks. And then what I do first thing in the morning when I sit down at my desk is I pull out this Analog card and I write down usually about three to five, maybe six, of the most important things. 

And then it kind of sits there to the left of my computer. And I can see and be constantly reminded, ‘Oh yeah, what I’m supposed to be doing is these things today.’ 

So that’s helpful. And then also – I’ve got to turn this off honestly – but I keep on getting these notifications of YouTube videos for channels that I subscribe to and they pop up as soon as I open my computer. And so what I’ve been doing is basically cueing them up and leaving them in a tab in my browser so that I can go back and watch it later as a reward.

So that helps me to prioritize getting the important things done and then go watch. Like, today, it was amazing – jazz drumming video from Larnell Lewis. Fantastic. So that’s helpful when when I need a little bit of something to look forward to so that I can get some work done first.

And the last one is running out of energy in the afternoon, and we all have different sort of times of the day that are more ideal to get things done. Some people work really well in the morning. Some people work really well late at night. I don’t think most of us work well in the afternoon. 

So what I’ve tried to do this year specifically is just stop trying to do focused work in the afternoon, you know, roughly 2-4pm in that range. I just don’t get much done. 

So instead of trying to work, reply to emails and get things done, like writing tasks or other things, I read a book or go for a walk or sometimes I just organize my garage because I’m still actively doing something but it’s not so much brain work or knowledge work, if you will. 

So those are my three productivity challenges, or at least three of them that I came up with for this podcast.

The first one taking on too many projects.

The second one, distraction and procrastination.

And the third one running out of energy in the afternoon. 

Have a great day! Thanks for listening.

PS. Check out this analog productivity tool.

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