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Are you one of those people who has trouble getting started on things? Like you really want to be productive and check off everything on your to-do list, but then suddenly, everything seems to be overwhelming for you.
You, my friend, might be experiencing bouts of productivity paralysis. But what is productivity paralysis and how can you combat it?
We all want to be productive, but sometimes it can be a tad bit difficult to get things started.
But there’s nothing to worry about because there are ways around it (even though it feels like there are none).
In today’s article, we’ll define what productivity paralysis is, why it happens, and how you can break the cycle of moping at your long to-do list so that your productivity doesn’t have to suffer any longer!
Are you looking for motivation and encouragement? Commence the new school year with positive thoughts and aim for productive student learning year-round!
What Is Productivity Paralysis And How Can You Combat It?
Defining productivity paralysis, in general, is the feeling of being overwhelmed with the sheer amount of work that you have to do and not knowing where to begin as well. It can also feel like every task that you need to complete at the moment seems harder than the last.
It’s like you’re whimsically paralyzed to get anything done and you’re unable to move forward. This force of nature is usually experienced by people who are trying to complete big projects, especially projects with tasks that require multiple steps, and anyone can experience this at some point in time in their lives.
Productivity paralysis can generally feel like:
- Feeling overwhelmed with how much work needs to be done
- Being uncertain of what needs to be done next
- Trouble focusing on one thing at a time because your mind keeps jumping around different tasks simultaneously
- Feeling like there isn’t enough time to finish tasks that are lined up
Why Does It Happen?
Productivity paralysis is more than just not getting stuff done—it’s also the phenomenon wherein an individual lacks motivation and direction which leads to losing steam and focus over time. It can be caused by not having enough mental energy to help maintain momentum or being overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done at once.
Teachers can go through productivity paralysis at some point in time especially when there are just too many things going on in school that need to be done.
From crunching deadlines and making sure that every paperwork is up and ready to ensure that everyone in the class is able to catch up, you can bet that it’s always a roller coaster ride for teachers.
Now that you’ve been made aware of this debilitating occurrence, what can you do to overcome it? Here are 6 concrete ways to overcome it!
Know that your brain is not your friend
Funnily enough, your brain is not your friend. In fact, the human brain is lazy, and easily distracted, and it also easily gets bored and overwhelmed as well. It also gets tired, frustrated, and addicted all too readily that’s why it can sometimes be difficult to be productive even though you really want to.
Especially in today’s digitized environment, we can easily escape what stresses us out with just one swipe and one click. If you’re not into completing your paperwork now you can just immediately jump on to social media or video games just for the sake of distracting your not-wanting-to-be-productive mind.
This really makes you realize that productivity paralysis is real—and it sucks big time!
Don’t underestimate the power of habits
The first step in combating productivity paralysis is understanding what a habit is. In general definition, a habit is a certain set of actions that are automatic and repeated regularly, and often we do them without really thinking about them.
To illustrate, if you find yourself binge eating an entire bag of potato chips every time you sit down at your table while you work, then that specific action (eating chips) has become an automatic response of yours.
What happens is that your brain decides to subconsciously link eating chips while you work in your mind—when one happens again, so does the other!
Most of us probably have these little habits that make up our daily routine. While some are good (practicing self-care every morning), others might greatly affect our productivity (spending a copious amount of time scrolling on social media).
One thing is for certain though, and that is all habits have one thing in common—old habits die hard!
Since they have been practiced over and over and are repeated almost regularly, inevitably they become a part of who we are as individuals, and changing them feels like overhauling your brain and rewiring it from scratch.
But not all hope is lost! You can always learn to break bad habits and form new and better ones!
If you can start a habit, you can also break one
As I have mentioned earlier, it is a fact that it can be a real challenge to break a habit. But that doesn’t mean you should surrender with a white flag.
Forming a new habit can be easily done in as little as 21 days. That’s about how long it takes for something to become a routine, which is why it’s important to be aware of your daily habits and how they influence your productivity.
For instance, if you want to start getting more things done in the morning but you always end up sleeping in or waking up late making you rush your morning errands, try to start a morning routine that will help force you to get out of bed at the same time every morning consistently.
Following the things you would want to enforce in your morning routine (taking a shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast) so that by the time everyone in your household gets up for their morning routines too, you’re already done with much more time to spare!
Try to find what triggers your bad habit so you can work around it. If in case you don’t succeed, try to start over with even more focus so that you will not get derailed again.
Success builds on success
At the end of the day, we are all still humans and we are not machines. We have to deal with various challenges on a daily basis and sometimes they can be truly overwhelming.
Know that success builds on success, it doesn’t matter if they are big or small. With that in mind, you don’t need to be profoundly successful on something just to say that you’re productive, you can start small.
When you feel stuck, just do something because something is anything. And taking action, and I mean action whether big or small, is the best and fastest way to break the circuit on productivity paralysis.
Just doing anything can help you snap out of that frozen feeling and it can get your brain going again. You’ll find that once you’re in the groove, it becomes easier as you keep going.
Try to also keep track of what you’re doing during the day, and if there’s anything left over for the day, that’s great too! The good thing is that you’re trying your best to improve.
Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro technique is a simple time management method that ensures you get the most out of your working hours.
The concept is pretty straightforward and easy to follow as well; you just need to set a timer for 25 minutes and in that 25 minutes you just need to stay focused and do what needs to be done. Then after that, you can take a 5-minute break (or longer) and just repeat the cycle until you’re done with your task for that day.
And the amazing thing about it is that it surprisingly works! There are a number of reasons and research showing the effectiveness of the Pomodoro technique, in fact, I myself follow this technique too!
It’s quite effective in boosting my productivity even when I feel like nothing works, at the end of the day I’ll be surprised with what I have accomplished just by following it. It is easily trackable and flexible because I can set my own time and pace.
The way of Pomodoro technique also has an added benefit because it also helps break the bad habit of staring too long at our screens every 25 minutes, giving us something else to focus on reducing risks of eye fatigue or a.k.a. “Computer vision syndrome”.
Remember bad habits are not unbreakable
One of the most common misperceptions of productivity analysis is that it’s an unchangeable part of human nature. But in fact, it’s possible to break bad habits and become a better version of yourself as well.
You just need to have the determination and the will to change and break your habits into better ones.
Studies have also shown that most people only change their habits once they’re ready for it—but it’s best to take action before you’re ready because you’ll never know when you are.
One way to start breaking down barriers is to understand why those barriers have been created in the first place. Most people go by their days without thinking much about what they do and why they are doing it at all.
But what happens if you start to become more mindful and aware of how you do and react to certain things? You will then will begin to question everything from your motivations behind certain actions until something as simple as scrolling through social media becomes a thought-provoking act.
Now that we know that productivity paralysis is as real as it gets, we have to understand that it’s not something that just “happens to people”.
It’s a very real mindset that can affect anyone and everyone as well. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to combat productivity paralysis, from breaking bad habits to creating new ones and everything in between.
If you want out of the cycle, then it’s up to you! Until our next one!