Sometimes you get on a roll. You’re keeping up with your to-do list, and you’ve got your calendar under control.
You feel productive, and you’re accomplishing things left and right.
You’ve even got your morning routine in the bag!
But then you fall off the productivity wagon. Life happens and something gets in the way… and the snowball effect starts. Before long, you don’t feel like you’re accomplishing anything at all and your to-do list is out of control.
What do you do then?
First of all, we want to make sure we’re not allowing negative self-talk to creep in. Odds are, this is going to happen more than once during your career, and it happens to everyone. (Hint: I’m writing this article because it happens to me!)
So just be careful that you don’t beat yourself up over falling behind! It’s not helpful, and it always does more harm than good.
After that, I recommend a few things.
Take a step back. Sometimes we’re too close to what we’re doing, and that’s part of the problem. If we feel like we’re drowning in lists… we need to get out of the water! When we’re too close we also tend to focus on “urgent” tasks only. Our day-to-day begins to be driven not by our goals, but by what fires we need to put out.
When we’re living day-to-day from our to-do lists, we don’t have the time or the perspective to make big picture decisions. This can be harmful to our businesses, and our goals. Taking a second to detach from the frenzy of “urgent” tasks can provide us the distance we need to refocus and reenergize our projects.
Look at your to-do list for today. How many things on that list will move your big-picture goals forward? Also, how many of the things on that list are truly urgent? After answering those questions, (be brutally honest with yourself!) remove any of the tasks that are not truly urgent, and replace one with something that will move your goals forward.
Remind ourselves why our routines are important to us. If you have a morning routine and it just hasn’t been clicking lately, find out why.
Do you just not have time? Do you feel frazzled as soon as you wake up and so you’re not even in a good mindset to do your routine? Is there something in your routine that you don’t need/want anymore?
Ditto those questions for any regular productivity routines you have. If you have a routine for the end of your workday and you’ve just been skipping it lately, ask yourself why.
If you feel like you don’t have time for your routines, maybe they’re too long. Maybe you have too many steps and you need to take a closer look at the things you’re including in those routines. Or maybe paring down your to-do list will help with this issue as well.
If you feel frazzled throughout the day, make sure you put some time in for self-care. Feeling overwhelmed or anxious is only made worse when we feel like we’re go, go, go all the time. Take a few minutes each day when these feelings come on and meditate, or take a short walk, or drink a cup of tea. Allow your body to relax and your mind will follow.
If your routine feels like it isn’t serving you anymore, take a look at everything you’ve included. What elements lack excitement? Can you change or remove them? If you can’t, can you maybe rearrange them or delegate them? Get creative and cutthroat!
I hope these techniques are helpful for when you feel like you’ve fallen into a productivity rut. Oftentimes when we feel overwhelmed, we accidentally allow our urgent day-to-day activities overrun our normal productivity routines. The tips in this article can help you recenter your efforts and get back on track!