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We picture highly productive people as those who get up in the morning, drink a protein shake, and blow through their to-do lists before the rest of us are even out of bed. And it may be that there are some people who are this productive. But there is a reason many of us struggle with maintaining an uncompromising regimen.
“In my work as a psychologist, I routinely encounter some pretty unproductive side-effects that come along with the militantly productive mindset, one of the most common of which is judgmental self-talk,” says Wignall on his blog.
“While a harsh inner-critic can be superficially motivating in the short term, it tends to have crippling effects on long-term productivity because of the anxiety and depression it leads to,” Wignall adds.
Self-criticism that leads to depression and anxiety tends to make us feel smaller. Productivity comes from feeling light and open, not closed.
Rather than being hard on yourself when you don’t meet your expectations…be more supportive of yourself and understanding of your challenges.
Instead: Try positive self-talk
Wignall recommends changing the way you talk to yourself when you’re trying to build up motivation to do something. Rather than being hard on yourself when you don’t meet your expectations (“I am so undisciplined when it comes to doing my finances”), be more supportive of yourself and understanding of your challenges (“I always manage to log my finances even though it is one of my least favourite things to do, and I am more disciplined in other areas of my life).”
The problem with productivity myths is that they can make you feel like a failure if you aren’t able to live up to them. They promote productivity for productivity’s sake, rather than for the sake of accomplishing something you really care about. That’s why the gist of much of the “instead” advice in this article focuses on devising ways to better enjoy your work and challenge yourself while managing expectations — so you don’t feel like a failure when you fall short and you keep going.