Very honest guest blog on his limiting beliefs around will power. It’s also a partial book review for an excellent book I recommend myself.
My full-time job keeps me pretty busy and that’s before I tack on the responsibilities that come with family, having a few rental properties and supporting my partner with a small business. As you might imagine, I’m always keen to pick up a good self-help book, in particular, one that helps with productivity.
Despite what I read, I have a few “beliefs” in my mind that are probably holding me back or, at least, making me feel inadequate:
- I lack discipline and will power because I often let my diet slip, fall behind on exercise and let tasks – I don’t care about much – consume more time than they should.
- When I get “in a zone” I’m very focused and super productive, however, my semi-chaotic work day is full of meetings and distractions that prevent me from getting into that zone most days.
- At night I often dilly-dally and procrastinate and never get to the one or two items I want to work on. It’s like I’m out of mental capacity to do any work or I lack the will power.
Now, I do believe that I’m a hard worker and more productive than the average person. I also think these short-comings I experience are more human nature rather than a function of me being mentally weak.
But I’m not sure.
So which is it?
Recently I picked up “The One Thing” by Gary Keller. He addresses some of my “beliefs” and popular misconceptions about being productive. His tips are actionable and helpful. Here are four that caught my attention:
- Multi-tasking is a farce. Trying to do two things at once simply means that I’m not focusing fully on either. Most importantly, constantly switching my focus makes me less efficient and actually consumes more time then if I just focused on one at a time.
- Discipline is not the key to success. Success comes to those who have developed the right habits. Use a burst of discipline to form the habit, then you won’t have to rely on discipline to carry out that task.
- When you focus on doing the right thing then it liberates you from having to worry about all the other things. Don’t try to do everything well, just get in the habit of doing the right thing. When you develop the right habit, your life becomes simpler, clearer and less complicated.
- Will power isn’t something you turn on or off. It’s like a battery and can drain throughout the day. Your will power is strongest after eating the right foods. Determine when your will power is highest and use that to focus on doing your right thing.
This makes a lot of sense to me and confirms many of my hunches. It’s liberating to realize that I was expecting to much from my discipline and will power. I’m also taking away a couple easy actions. First, focus on the most important thing and don’t multi-task. Second, focus on building habits into my day using my limited will power.
Of all the benefits that Gary mentions, I’m most excited about worrying less about the mountain of tasks I typically have waiting for me. I can’t get to them all and, many times, that makes me anxious and stressed out. So I’m going to try focusing on the most important thing and see how that makes me feel about all the other items. Far too often, I’m motivated by crossing items off my list, completing a project that is no longer important simply because I already invested time into it and, worst of all, choosing tasks that I know will make me feel good, regardless of their importance.
Hopefully, you can leverage some of the insights I listed here. Better yet, I hope I motivated you to check out the book because I think you’ll get a lot out of it. In the meantime, don’t beat yourself up when your personal productivity slips and make sure you are focused on the right thing for you whether that’s work, family or your health.