5 warning signs that tell you are taking productivity too seriously

too many tasksFor me productivity is one element of success. In order to achieve your intentions you have to put some hours in and work on your goals. Reaching your goals cannot be done by procrastinating.

However, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin too. Sometimes you can take your productive efforts too far and productivity starts to affect your life in several negative ways.

Avoiding communicating with others

This happens when you have scheduled your timetable to be too tight. When someone comes to talk to you (communicate with you by other ways), you either avoid the situation or you try to do everything to keep the conversation short.

I have experienced this myself when I go to gym. I have a very tight and fast-paced work-out schedule that I want to follow to the minute. Also, the more time I spend at the gym, the later I get to work and later I can leave the office.

Because of this chain reaction, I have tried to keep the conversations with others at gym very short. Sometimes I have tried to avoid the conversations in the first place. Other times, I have wanted to say something to an acquaintance of mine, but because my workout is very intense in nature, I have kept the conversations to minimum for not losing time.

When I realized this bad habit, I have eased my attitude towards my workout schedule a bit. In fact, I don’t mind having a chat with an acquaintance, unless the conversation is really going to affect too much my other schedules.

Inflexible timetables

When you plan your day, you put too many tasks on your task list. Then, when there is even a smallest unplanned change in your schedule, your “deck of cards” collapses. You have designed your daily task list to be too tight.

This in turn causes you to get stressed, frustrated and angry. At the end of the day you may have a feeling of inferiority, because you weren’t able to accomplish all your tasks.

At times, I still fall into the trap of overstuffing my task list. However, as soon as I started to focus on just completing the most important tasks and taking care of the rest after that, I have been able to make my schedules more reasonable.

For example, I tend to do most of my important tasks (building my online business, working out …) before going to work. This way I’m not affected too much if my afternoon schedule changes for some reason. In fact, check out this video where I talk about this topic a little bit more.

You are stressed out

One obvious symptom of overstuffing your task list, having too rigid timetables and not being able achieve what you have planned, is stress and overwhelm. You may feel that you are doing so much – yet you feel inadequate.

When these symptoms occur, it is time to take a breather and see if all your busyness and stress is worth it.

You might want to ask yourself these following questions:

  • If you have defined your goals, are all these tasks you are doing related to those goals?

If the answer is no, do you know why this is so? Is there something that you could just stop doing? Could you start putting more weight on the tasks which are goals-related?

  •  Are you unable to say “no” to other people’s requests? 

Are you trying to please everyone by saying “yes”? One way I have dealt with this issue is to be selfish. If I already have a tight schedule, I also let the requestor know about this.

Also, if the person asking you has a right to ask you something in the first place, you have the similar right to say no.

  •  Are you putting too tight deadlines for yourself and then you put yourself down for not finishing things in time?

This comes down to question number one: is there anything that could be left out? Stop doing everything that is not necessary to do. Re-plan your schedule: less is more.

Get reasonable with your deadlines. If you weren’t able to make it, evaluate the reasons and adjust your schedules.

  •  Are you prioritizing your tasks?

How well do you prioritize your tasks? Would it be possible to schedule the important tasks as first things of the day? Do you prioritize your daily task list at all?

Lack of general well-being

At times when I have had too much to do or if I have put too much stuff on my task list, I have had sleep problems. It’s like I’m on overdrive, pondering my tasks too much in advance.

If I’m unable to get any sleep, I feel tired the next day and I’m unable to perform with my 100% capacity. Also, I have had headaches because of too little sleep.

Lack of sleep causes other issues too. There have been numerous studies of different health-related issues that the insufficient amount of sleep causes.

In general, when you have too much on your plate, you may feel stressed, tired and even reluctant to do any of those tasks on your list.

If this is the case, it is time to re-evaluate your task list and cut down all the extra commitments.

Define daily hours when you work (for example, mine is 05.30 AM – 07.30 AM and 8.00 PM – 9.00 PM) and make sure that you are getting enough sleep (during the night + powernaps).

Just working – without any breaks

Do you just work on your tasks without any downtime? Do you feel stressed out and lack of any new ideas because of this? Do you feel tired because of pushing too hard?  If it is so, it is time to set regular breaks to you schedule.

First of all, you should start to putting mini-breaks to your working sessions. In my situation, I’m working in 45 minute chunks and then have a quick 5 minute break between the sessions.

On Sundays, I try to do something else that work related stuff. I want to make sure that I have at least one of these kinds of days per week. In fact, I want to do something else than just sit on my computer.

It’s about balancing your life in a way that other important areas can be included too, like family, hobbies and personal growth.

It is utmost important to have regular breaks in your schedule, because they improve your well-being and productivity. Otherwise you might just burned out.

Taking some time off has a nice way to boost your creativity too. At least I have noticed that I have plenty of new ideas popping into my head when I’m not working all the time.

Conclusion

Healthy productivity is something where you get work done, but at the same time your life is in balance and enjoyable. It is not trying to figure out how to do more and more – instead how to do more with less effort.

Productivity should be a good thing and you should be proud of yourself for getting things done. However, if you are feeling stressed out, it is time to re-evaluate your working habits and do some re-planning on your task list.

Your next tasks:

1. Put this blog post into action!

  • Design your timetable in a way that it is flexible enough – don’t just put a task after each other (see this video for more info)
  • Remember to have enough sleep. Also, take power naps if needed
  • Have decent breaks when you work: 5-10 minutes between each session. Get up, drink some water, get some fresh air …
  • Define your daily working schedules and communicate them to your family or friends

2. Share your experiences and tips on the comment area:

  • Have you ever felt being too productive?
  • What are your tips on balancing your work with the other areas in your life?

3. Spread the word:

I would appreciate it if you share this post on Twitter or on Facebook.

Comments

  1. Hey Timo,

    Great article my friend!
    I believe that learning time management is to free up time for us to relax and speak.
    When you have a good to do list for today and know how to work it well, you can do more in 6 hours than others do in 10.
    That should give you at least 2 hours of time that you can as you want with, meaning you are still much more efficient than everyone else and have more time off!
    Daniel M. Wood recently posted..The Gratitude ListMy Profile

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Daniel,

      Thank you :)

      I agree. That’s what is so wonderful about good time management skills: Getting stuff done in less time and giving you more time to do whatever you wish.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  2. I’m definitely guilty of that at times!

    The best remedy I’ve found so far is to block off time in my day to do “chilled out stuff”. Either going down to the beach to read, or just laying comfortably and watching something funny (usually How I Met Your Mother) while sipping on tea.

    I also meditate 1 hour every night after my workout to get ready for “work mode” at night.

    Just like silence is essential to music, relaxation is essential to achievement.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Phil,

      Relaxation is very important.

      Just doing stuff without ever stopping doesn’t work for me.

      I need some time to relax too, so that I can get more done.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  3. Getting stressed out? What, me, an entrepreneur?! Nah!!
    Great article thanks for this. It deserves a bookmark and revisit for sure. No, I’m not procrastinating :)

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