If you had to diagnose the biggest roadblock(s) that keep you from being as productive as you could be, what would your diagnosis be? I diagnose myself as a procrastinating perfectionist. I want to do really well, but I sometimes doubt my ability to do as well as I'd like, so I put things off. In some odd sense, it's as if I feel that if it's still undone, I still have the opportunity to do it perfectly.
I'm working on ways to combat this tendency of mine. It would seem obvious that giving myself less time to accomplish something isn't going to give me the best chance of success.
So, I should:
- Determine the highest priority projects and tasks that require my attention.
- Realistically estimate the amount of time required to complete them.
- Block out that time on my schedule, while leaving breathing room for the inevitable emails, phone calls, and drop-ins that are part of my job as well.
- Nota bene: This is the one Julie Morgenstern (Time Management from the Inside Out) tip I will implement to a degree, even though it's not really kosher in the David Allen Getting Things Done methodology. I find that even if the structure of one methodology makes more sense to you than others, it's still useful to add bits and pieces from others if it works for you.
- When I feel like I want to procrastinate on something, I need to talk or write my way through that roadblock. Telling myself "Just do it" doesn't always work. There's usually some subconscious reason I don't want to make the call (I haven't thought through exactly what to say, for example), or fill out that form (I might be unsure how to fill it out).
- This is where the David Allen "Next Action" concept really does help. In both of these examples, I haven't put the very next action on my list. Instead of "Call Jane," I should write, "Jot down items to be covered in call to Jane." Instead of "Fill out form," it might be "Email John and ask for instructions on filling out the form."
Also, I've realized now that I'm in a different position with more responsibility and less direct supervision that I am missing the external reinforcement and approval that I seem to crave psychologically. The approval of my parents, teachers, professors, and supervisors has been a motivating force for me in the past, but now I rarely have face time with my boss and when we do meet, it's very businesslike. I need to find a way to give myself approval for my accomplishments.
- I have started keeping "thank you" emails that people send when I've helped them out. Even though it seems self-indulgent, maybe once a quarter or once a year I could condense them all into one big text file and read them.
- I should keep a list of accomplishments, large and small. Looking at the list will make me feel good and will be useful at evaluation time.
- If there's a particularly difficult or onerous task or project that must be completed, I could try to think of a reward to give myself when it's done.