"Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort."
Although I'd love to take credit for these words...they actually belong to the late Paul J. Meyer, founder of the Success Motivation Institute (SMI). To say that this successful entrepreneur knew a thing or two about productivity...well, that would be an understatement.
In addition to running SMI, Meyer also owned and operated dozens more businesses (40+) in various fields (ranging from real estate to jet leasing). He received 3 doctorate degrees, was a best-selling author, ran a foundation that gave tens of millions to charity...heck, he even broke US Army physical fitness records, including doing 3,500 sit-ups at one time!
It's obvious that he knew a thing or two about being productive. But guess what? You can be that productive as well and it all starts by paying attention to the words you say or rather, the words you shouldn't say.
So what types of things do productive people NEVER say?
1. "I'll never master this whole 'being productive' thing."
Before you give up on increasing your productivity for good...remember these words that Meyer used as the foundation of all of his SMI programs: "Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon...must inevitably come to pass!"
This isn't always easy as living in a world where we can get most anything we want in minute, if not seconds. Our instant gratification culture has taught us that if we don't get the results we want right away, it's time to try something else. And even if you muster up the courage and perseverance to go the long-standing recommendation of 21 days for the new behavior to become habit, you're often let down when you get to the end of week three...and you're still struggling.
Does this mean that you'll never be a productive person? NO!
Gretchen Rubin, author of the bestselling book Better Than Before, points to the fact that some studies suggest that habits take as long as 66 days to form. That's almost three times more than once thought! So if you haven't mastered productivity yet, your first step is to change the belief that you never will.
In her excellent TED Talk, "The Power of Believing That You Can Improve", renowned psychologist and author Carol Dweck recommends that you adopt the phrase "NOT YET".
By changing your terminology and saying, "I've not yet mastered this whole 'being productive' thing," you remind yourself that you are learning and that it's a marathon, not a sprint. You'll keep getting better and improving ...as long as you keep moving forward.
2) "I'd like to get up early so I can get more done...but I just can't seem to drag myself out of bed when the alarm goes off."
I get it...this used to be me.
My alarm would go off and I'd hit snooze. Then I'd hit it again. And again. And again.
I understood the value of getting up early, yet I just couldn't pry myself out of bed no matter how hard I seemed to try. I hated this pattern but I didn't think I could do anything about it. Until one day I had enough and decided to change.
And that change started with a simple mindset shift. As Meyer once said, "Concentrate on your strengths rather than weakness." And once I did, I was able to create a morning routine that worked for me and began to actually enjoy my time being productive in the early morning hours (when most others are still fast asleep).
Dr. Yizhak Kupfer from the Maimonides Medical Center explains that repeatedly hitting the snooze button increases your body's production of cortisol and release of adrenaline. This ultimately leaves you feeling groggy and disoriented, lowering your productivity throughout the day.
Also, consider setting your alarm clock on the other side of your bedroom so you physically have to get out of bed to shut it off. Then you have no option but to get up and start your day.
3) "Sorry, but I just received a new message and I need to check it immediately!"
If you have your smartphone set to alert you the moment someone else tries to contact you via email, text, social media or even by phone...it may be doing you more harm than good.
Studies have found that repeated electronic distraction can limit your ability to focus, causing you to do worse on the task at hand. In fact, one study involving 300 students discovered that checking Facebook just once (when they were supposed to be learning) caused them to drop to the bottom of the academic pool.
Is this an easy change to make? No, it's not because most of us are so used to always being connected. However, as Meyer once said, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." So, start making changes today and you'll get there eventually.
So what are some of those small changes?
For starters, you can do set your phone on airplane or "do not disturb" mode when you're involved in a task that requires your attention. I do this when I'm practicing my version of the Pomodoro Technique and not only does it save me a lot of time, it also allows me to fully concentrate on whatever it is I'm doing. And as an added bonus, you won't be notified when something new comes in...taking away that internal struggle of whether to give it attention or not.
Another effective strategy is to set aside certain hours or parts of the day to deal with your emails, phone, and text messages. This ensures that you get to them but doesn't stop you from doing the things you need to do, in order to achieve your goals.
Stop saying these three things and give your productivity a boost. Who knows? You may just become the next Paul J. Meyer.