4 mental traps that kill productivity

4 mental traps that kill productivity

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Productivity has many enemies: too many meetings, external triggers like interruptions from coworkers, and multitasking incorrectly, to name a few.

But most of the time, it is the mental traps that trip us up.

“Mind traps are habitual modes of thinking that disturb our peace of mind, consume enormous amounts of our time, and drain our energy without accomplishing anything of value,” psychology professor André Kukla wrote in his book, Mind Traps: The Overthinker’s Guide to a Happier Life.

Learning to recognize these mental traps disarms them, allowing us to overcome their threat to our productivity.

Here are some common mind traps, along with a solution to set you free.

Mind Trap: The Fallacy of Planning

According to the American Psychological Association, the planning fallacy is “the tendency to underestimate the amount of time required to complete a future task, due in part to a reliance on overly optimistic performance scenarios.”

Underestimating the time you need for certain tasks means you constantly fail to meet a timeline. Whether you’re a freelancer whose clients have strict deadlines, or you’re part of a team that depends on you to complete a project as expected, meeting deadlines is crucial to your professional success.

Misjudging how much time you need to tackle tasks also means that you will try to accomplish more than is possible in a day, throwing your life out of balance. If you take on too much at your job, you may have to reallocate hours set aside for other domains of life (yourself and your relationships) to finish those tasks.

Those high expectations, plus the low control you have to meet them, are a guaranteed formula for burnout. After sacrificing hours previously devoted to recreation, self-care, or sleep, you are likely to enter a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.

Fix: Don’t use a task list without timeboxing

On their own, to-do lists are a trap. Without constraints, they show no force prioritization trade-offs or help you stick to a realistic schedule.

Timeboxing, for its part, is a time management technique through which you reserve a specific period of time in your calendar for each activity. It’s a great way to beat the planning fallacy because it allows you to visualize your time. (If you’re new to timeboxing, try this timeboxing template to get started.)

You can use time tracking apps to track how much time you typically need to complete a work project, recipe, workout session, and more. Once you have a good idea of ​​how long something might take you, record it on your timed calendar. This should give you a good idea of ​​what you can actually do in a day.

Be liberal with allocating time to your tasks. Don’t limit yourself to the minutes you need for best-case productivity: time box for worst-case. If you finish early then you have breathing room to take a break.

Mind Trap: Liminal Moments

Liminal moments are transitions from one thing to another throughout our days. Have you ever opened a tab in your web browser, been annoyed by how long it takes to load, and opened another page while you were waiting? Or were you checking a social media app as you walked from one meeting to the next, only to keep scrolling when you returned to your desk?

By doing these actions for “just a second” or “five minutes tops,” we are likely to do things we later regret, like going off track for half an hour.

Solution: the 10 minute rule

The next time you feel the urge to check your phone in a moment of boredom or distraction, tell yourself to wait just 10 minutes. It’s likely that once the 10 minutes are up, your momentum is gone.

Attention essential readings

The 10-minute rule, also known as “get over the urge,” is when you take a breath to notice your feelings and ride them like a wave, helping you ride through them until the feelings subside.

Browsing on impulse is effective in helping me deal with all kinds of potential distractions, like Googling something instead of typing, eating something unhealthy when I’m bored, or watching another episode on Netflix when I’m “too tired to go to bed.” “. ”

Mind Trap: The Effect of Mere Urgency

The mere urgency effect is the “tendency to pursue urgency over importance,” as defined by this recent study. He says: “People may choose to do urgent tasks with short completion windows instead of important tasks with bigger payoffs.”

In other words, we tend to prioritize completing the menial five-minute task over the important project that will take us hours of work.

Email is a perfect example. It is the curse of the modern worker. The average office worker receives 100 messages per day. Even if he can play an answer in just two minutes each, that adds up to more than three hours a day. He will consume all the time he needs for more important tasks if you let him.

Solution: Plan focused work sessions

Timeboxing can protect us from the siren songs of housework. On your calendar, set aside a period to focus on work and let your family, co-workers, boss, anyone trying to get close to you at the time know that you won’t be available.

This will eliminate the guilt or anxiety you feel about not responding to emails every 30 seconds because your boss and coworkers will know you’re not slacking off, you’re indistractable.

Planning a focused work time will also let you know that any other task you do in that time is a distraction. You might be tempted to recheck your inbox or, if you’re working from home, quickly throw some clothes in the washer, but that’s off limits during your focused work time.

Mind Trap: Shame for not doing everything

Humans are not machines, so we are going to have moments of low productivity, even if we are proactive in managing our time and attention. Making yourself feel ashamed of your lack of productivity won’t do you any good.

Maybe you’ve made yourself feel embarrassed by sleeping in instead of getting up for your morning workout. Or maybe the distraction could have stolen your attention more than usual today.

Don’t give in to self-blame. That toxic guilt will only make you feel even worse and may, ironically, lead you to seek even more distractions to escape the pain of shame.

Solution: Self-pity

Everyone struggles with distractions from time to time. The important thing is to take responsibility for our actions without toxic shame.

Self-compassion makes people more resistant to disappointment by breaking the vicious cycle of stress that often accompanies failure.

If you find yourself listening to the little voice in your head that sometimes intimidates you, it’s important to know how to respond. Instead of accepting what the voice says or arguing with it, remember that obstacles are part of the growth process.

Talk to yourself like you would to a friend. We tend to be our own worst critics, but by talking to ourselves the way we would help a friend, we can see the situation for what it really is. Telling yourself things like, “This is what it means to get better at something” and “You’re on your way” are healthier ways to handle self-doubt.

Feelings of guilt are yet another reason to use a schedule generator instead of to-do lists, which perpetuate harmful stereotypes because they act as a constant reminder that you didn’t do what you said you would.

This post also appeared on NirAndFar.com.

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