One of the most destructive forces for human productivity is the excuse. Time and time again I come across people making excuses about why they cannot get themselves organised or why they cannot be more productive. I’ve heard excuses ranging from “I’m not the organised type of person” to “my boss makes it impossible for me to be more productive”. I know it is very easy to blame others or blame your personality, it could be because it is so easy to blame others that is why we do it.
The truth is there are no valid excuses not to be better organised or more productive. Being organised and more productive is a choice we make, it is not a talent or a skill we learn at school or university. We either choose to get ourselves organised or we choose not to get ourselves organised.
The problem for most people is the time it takes to get organised. After years of neglect, our desk draws are a mess, filled with stuff we have collected over the years. Our garages have become dumping grounds for all kinds of junk and we rarely, if ever, maintain a functioning calendar or todo list manager because the effort required to set one up is too much for us. The latest episode of Elementary or Game Of Thrones is far more appealing than spending a hour collecting all the things flying around in our heads into a digital or paper todo list.
It is very easy to find an excuse not to do something, often it is very hard to find a reason to do something. But that is what separates the productive, highly organised people from the stressed our wrecks. Highly productive people find reasons to be productive. They do not like having to take work home with them every night. They do not like wasting hour after hour looking for something that has disappeared under a pile of junk and they certainly do not like being distracted by work related stuff floating around in their heads while they are at the park with their kids.
Rather than spend an evening sat on the sofa watching episodes of the latest drama, you would find it much more fulfilling to spend an hour cleaning out your closet. You could spend an hour collecting all the things in your head onto a piece of paper or typing it all into a digital todo list manager. If you make the decision to spend an hour every Saturday and Sunday evening cleaning out an area of your home / life, in one month you would have spent eight hours doing something productive. That would still allow you time to watch an episode or two of your favourite drama. The difference this time is you would feel much better about doing it.
In the workplace, a clear sign of an unproductive person is the way they speak about projects. They blame everything. The timeline is too tight, the documentation is not up to date, the weather is bad, it’s the wrong time of year to do this kind of project, the government’s regulations don’t allow us to do something. There’s always a reason why something cannot happen. Yet, if you truly want to be an effective, productive person, then you need to stop making these excuses and starting finding ways to make something happen. Successful and productive people don’t complain. They get on with it. They find ways to make successful outcomes happen, no matter what barriers or pressures they are up against.
It is true outside influences can make a project more difficult, but these difficulties are the same for everyone. If it’s raining, it’s raining for everyone. If the government regulations are strict, they are strict for everyone. Productive, effective people find ways to make things happen and they get results. They get creative and work within the boundaries they are set and they see everything as an opportunity to do. unproductive, ineffective people on the other hand use these outside influences as an excuse not to do.
There is no excuse for not getting yourself organised and more productive. It could be argued that not doing so is seriously damaging your health and wellbeing. Stressed in not a pleasant state to be in. It effects your relationships and it effects your ability to make good decisions and, more seriously, it effects your health.
I have an interest in what makes truly successful people successful. And the common trait among them all is they don’t make excuses. They don’t blame the government, the environment, the economy or their company. If they identify a weakness in their system they fix it. They have routines that allows them to get stuff done and they are incredibly productive. They use a calendar, they have a todo list that is up to date and they set goals every year. They are all about action, about doing and about finding ways to make the impossible possible.
If you want to be successful. If you want to improve your productivity, your relationships and your health, then stop making excuses and start finding ways to make these things happen. As a member of the human race you were born with the ability to be successful, to be productive and achieve great things. If you want to do that, then stop looking for ways not to do something, and instead find ways to do it.
Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.