If you’re like me, you’re always looking for the perfect productivity system. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist.
The problem isn’t with the productivity system — the problem is that none of them can solve a few really important (and related) problems:
- Fear of uncertainty
- Fear of discomfort
For example, at the top of my to-do list today is “write Zen Habits post” and “write intro to declutter course” … pretty simple, right? Two fairly straightforward tasks. But as I started this post, I went to check and respond to email, sent a message to my wife, checked on my finances, cleaned the kitchen a little. I’m super productive at the little things when I’m putting off the big tasks!
No matter how good the productivity system is, it falls apart when I start procrastinating.
When a task is uncomfortable, I procrastinate, just like most people. When I’m facing a lot of uncertainty with a task, I procrastinate. Like most of us.
Often, we’ll work on a new productivity system, try out a new to-do list app, start organizing, or start getting our email inbox to zero, or start reading about a new way to be productive (like you are now) … all as a way to procrastinate on uncertain or uncomfortable tasks.
And it’s so much easier to follow the path of distractions and little tasks, than to face a big important but scary task. It’s easy to go to your bank’s website to check your balance, check on your favorite blogs and news sites, pop open your favorite social media network, and so on. These have no barrier to entry, and always give you some reward, while difficult tasks give you negative feedback and have obstacles to getting started. Not a fair fight, huh?
So how do we deal with this? A few important methods: