As we wrap up this month’s series on productivity, I would be remiss if I didn’t address some of the greatest barriers to progress. Reflecting back on my own work, I have identified four productivity traps that I battle against on the regular, namely: Overwhelm, Comparison, Creative Blocks, and Distraction.
Trap #1: Overwhelm
Whether it’s due to a messy house or a looming deadline if I’m feeling overwhelmed my productivity levels plummet. When I’m feeling this way the only thing to do is address the issue head-on, either in action or prayer.
Action: Sometimes taking action is as simple as taking on that pile of dirty dishes or taking fifteen minutes to do a quick pick-up around the house. Other times, action looks like breaking an overwhelming project down into bite-sized pieces and committing to tackle the very first step. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, we don’t need to worry about the whole mountain, we need to focus solely on that next step…and then the next…and then the next.
Prayer: Some levels of overwhelmed cannot be quelled by a clean house or a project plan. Sometimes we need to clear off our desk, take a walk outside, or sit with our friend Jesus. Only Jesus can give us the perspective we need in moments of overwhelm. Only He can coax us off the cliff. If you’re feeling overwhelmed today, one of the most productive things you can do is spend some time in prayer.
Trap #2: Comparison
Spiraling down the “She Does It Better Than Me” hole of despair will kill your productivity faster than you can blink. Similar to overwhelm, when we fall prey to the comparison trap, we may find ourselves wholly immobilized, paralyzed by a sense of “What’s the point? She’s already doing this (and doing it better) so why even try?” When you find yourself in this thought pattern I want you to put down the phone, close the computer, and prepare to do some serious self-preaching.
Mama, you were called to your work because of your unique genetic make-up and life experiences. Yes, your message may be similar to someone else’s (hundreds of women preach the message I feel led to speak) but no one can do the things you do exactly as you do them. You bring a unique beauty that this world needs. You also have a unique sphere of influence those other women do not have. So chin up! You don’t have to do things like her. You need to do them like you. Keep your eyes on the assignment God has given you and watch those creative juices come flooding back.
Trap #3: Creative Block
This one’s the worst. When your feeling stuck it’s awfully hard to be productive. There are so many reasons our creativity can falter (including hormones– but that is another post for another day), and often, it’s not a matter of how to prevent it but how to get past it. I have found that the fastest way to overcome a creative block is to give your mind a break: take a walk, soak in the tub, read some fiction, play a game! Rest and play often ease our minds out of gridlock and help us rediscover our creative flow! So, if this is where you find yourself, don’t try to force it. Let loose and let go, and you’ll find yourself dreaming again before you know it.
Trap #4: Distraction
One of the best ways to kill productivity is to get lost in an endless scroll on social media, but our phones aren’t the only thing keeping us distracted. Needy kiddos, urgent emails, and closets that suddenly need re-organizing can all draw our focus away from the work at hand. So what’s a girl to do when she’s feeling distracted? I find the best way to battle this beast is to flee its presence. Move locations, close the door, hide the phone- whatever it takes to block out the distraction and get back to work. Another helpful hack is setting a timer. Committing to concentrate for fifteen or twenty minutes at a time can help us block out distractions and accomplish that day’s to-do in small, intentional chunks of time.
Whatever hurdles you’re facing this week, my prayer is that God would give you the tools you need to overcome them, so you can be freed up to do the work He’s called you to do.
I’m cheering you on,