Barriers to Productivity
Below are the articles in the Barriers to Productivity category. Each article title is followed by a brief summary introduction to the content. Click "Read Excerpt" for a more comprehensive review. Click "Add to Package" to buy or redeem the article.
Are You Too Busy? How Can You Tell?
Many people complain about being too busy, but forget that they have a say in the matter. This quiz offers help and insight.
These days, it seems as if the lament of not having enough time has become a national anthem. Everywhere people find themselves constantly in a rush, over-booked and over-scheduled with no time off. Life is accompanied by the ongoing stress of not enough time. And sometimes doing too much and being too busy can be a way of numbing feelings or disguising depression or anger.
Though it may not always seem so, how we fill our time and how we spend it is our choice. Answer the following questions to discover if you’re caught up in the “too-busy” cycle.
1. I constantly find myself doing “urgent” things and trying to catch up.
2. I allow myself to drift into obligations when I don’t know how much time or energy they’ll require.
3. I find myself running from when I get up in the morning until I go to bed at night. I’m always tired and never feel like I accomplished enough.
Are You a Perfectionist?
There’s a difference between excellence and perfection. Striving to be really good is excellence; trying to be flawless is perfectionism. This quiz will help a person determine if he or she is striving for the unattainable.
Perfectionism can cause feelings of anxiety, fear, and self-doubt; it can cripple self-esteem, stifle creativity, and put a stumbling block in the way of intimate friendships and love relationships. Ultimately, it can create or aggravate illnesses such as eating disorders, manic-depressive mood disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse.
Everybody has some “built-in” perfectionism, especially in our achievement-oriented, competitive culture. Complete this questionnaire to discover how perfectionistic you are.
❏ I never do anything halfway; it’s all or nothing for me. Everytime.
❏ I get angry or defensive when I make mistakes. I hate to make them.
❏ I often procrastinate on starting projects. I seldom meet deadlines. Or if I do, I kill myself meeting them.
Are You Sabotaging Yourself?
Habitual lateness. Extreme disorganization. Not following up sales leads. This quiz helps to identify how we might be sabotaging our own efforts.
Self-sabotage takes on a variety of guises and affects people of all ages, professions and economic levels. But it always leads to our not living the life we want for ourselves. Take this Self-Quiz to see whether you might be working against yourself in some areas.
1. It takes me at least a half hour to locate a document I need to send to someone.
2. I can be indecisive and fearful; as a result, chances often pass me by.
3. I tend to start projects with great gusto, but have great difficulty finishing them.
4. My financial situation is chronically chaotic.
Best Way to Beat Burnout—Prevent It!
Burnout has more to do with attitudes, work styles, and behavior than with any specific job situation. Article explores warning signs and eight ways to avoid burnout.
Burnout resists simple definition because it affects so many aspects of an individual’s life. In their book, Beyond Burnout, authors David Welch, Donald Medeiros and George Tate, describe burnout as a condition that affects us physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially and spiritually.
One of the first physical symptoms of burnout is fatigue. Intellectually, there may be a loss of creativity and sharpness in problem solving; cynicism may replace enthusiasm. Emotionally, the loss of dreams and expectations can result in feelings of helplessness and depression. In the social realm, isolation overtakes feeling of involvement, and spiritually, the person experiencing burnout may feel a lack of meaning or purposelessness to her life....
How can you avoid becoming one of the burnout statistics? First, recognize the warning signs:
• feelings of frustration and never being caught up
• a feeling of lack of control about how to do your job or what goes on in the workplace
• emotional outbursts
NEW! Do We All Have ADHD? (Or Does It Just Seem Like It?)
Symptoms and management of ADHD. What it is and what it’s not.
We all have friends or coworkers who just can’t seem to sit still or stay focused. “I must have undiagnosed ADHD,” they joke. When you get right down to it, we’ve all felt restless, disorganized, or distracted at one time or another. So then, do we all just have ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)—once referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)—is one of the most common disorders in childhood, affecting about 7.5 percent, according to the Mayo Clinic. But many adults with ADHD don’t even realize they have the disorder. They do know that everyday tasks—from keeping appointments and getting up in the morning, to staying focused and being productive—are a real challenge.
Adults who have ADHD have had it since childhood. The Mayo clinic states that out of every three people with ADHD, one grows out of their symptoms, one has symptoms that are less severe than when they were younger, and one has persistent and significant symptoms as an adult.
Do You Defend or Do You Prosper?
Our communications are so much more productive when we don’t waste our energy on being defensive.
In her book, Taking the War Out of Our Words: The Art of Powerful Non-Defensive Communication, Sharon Ellison estimates that we use 95% of our communications energy being defensive. As soon as we feel any threat, either of not getting what we want or of being put down in some way, we are ready to protect ourselves by being defensive. Imagine how much more productive our communications could be if we learned how to respond nondefensively and to avoid provoking defensiveness in others! Take this quiz to see how defensive you tend to be.
Do You Have Workaholic Habits?
There is a clear difference between enthusiastic, energetic work toward a highly valued goal and workaholism. That difference lies primarily in the emotional quality of the hours spent. This quiz will help a person see if he or she has a problem.
Workaholism has a treadmill, joyless quality, not the bouncy, fun energy of a trampoline. And while working long, hard hours may help you accomplish a primary work goal, it likely will leave other areas of your life—family, friendship, intellectual stimulation, etc.—in shambles.
“Workaholism is an addiction,” Julia Cameron says in her book, The Artist’s Way, “and like all addictions, it blocks creative energy.” Take the following quiz, adapted from Cameron’s book, to help you figure out if you have workaholic habits. Even better, ask a few members of your family, or a few friends, to answer these questions for you. You may be surprised by what you discover.
1. I work beyond normal office hours.
2. I cancel dates with friends or family members to do more work.
3. I postpone outings until my deadline project is done.
4. I take work with me on vacations.
5. My family and/or friends complain that I always work.
6. I seldom allow myself free time between projects.
How Well Do You Handle Overwhelm?
Overwhelm can leave a person feeling helpless. But there are ways to cope and even thrive.
When overwhelm strikes, it’s easy to feel powerless and immobile. Everything feels too big. It’s not just everyday busyness and packed schedules. When we’re overwhelmed, just making dinner becomes a monumental effort. Take the Thriving quiz below to see how well you’ve learned to deal with overwhelm.
1. I try to remember that I don’t have to do everything myself. I ask others for help and gather a support team about me.
2. As often as I can remember, I stop for a moment and take several deep, relaxing breaths.
3. I say “No” to new requests for my time, and I try to renegotiate previous commitments so that I can regroup.
4. Even if for only 10 minutes, I do some form of movement—dancing, jogging, walking, jumping jacks. (Exercise increases adrenaline and endorphins, the body’s natural antidepressants.)
NEW! How Well Do You Manage Your Emotional Reactions at Work?
Getting "triggered" at work can be damaging to one's career. Through its quiz format, the article shows ways to manage emotional reactions at work.
Automatic, negative responses to people or events often indicate a hypersensitivity that's referred to as "getting your buttons pushed." At work, these emotional reactions can limit your career advancement and cap the level of success you might achieve.
Usually these sensitivities have their origins in hurtful childhood experiences, such as repeatedly being criticized, rejected or controlled. Because we're all human, we sometimes take them into the workplace with us.
Answer the following two sets of questions to discover how well you manage your emotional reactions at work.
1. When anyone critiques my work—constructively or not—I tend to shut down and withdraw or feel ashamed.
2. When someone hurts me—for instance, if they fail to acknowledge my contribution—I lash out at them or blame myself.
3. I hate it when colleagues tell me I'm "too sensitive."
How Well Do You Manage Your Energy?
It is the skillful management of energy, not time, that most significantly affects high performance. Take this quiz to see if you could be managing energy in a healthier way.
When the seemingly relentless demands at work and burdens of a busy life take their toll on work performance, we tend to think that managing our time better will improve the situation. If we can just work faster, multitask more efficiently, things will be better, we think, as we buy the latest time management gadget or software.
However, as Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, authors of The Power of Full Engagement, explain, it is the skillful management of energy, not time, that most significantly affects high performance. Too often, we squander this valuable resource through energy-taxing habits—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual habits. Take this Self-Quiz to see how well you are managing your energy.
1. I rely on sugary or carbohydrate-rich snacks for bursts of energy when I need an energetic pick-me-up.
2. Life is an endless marathon to be endured; you just have to keep on running.
3. I tend to do what feels immediately pressing and easier to accomplish rather than make intentional choices about how I spend my time and what matters most.
NEW! Is Not Getting Enough Sleep Getting In Your Way?
This quiz explores the symptoms, including lesser known ones, of not getting enough sleep and the effect that has on one’s life.
Quality sleep is as important to our health as food and water. Yet, we often cut back on sleep in favor of “getting more done.” Chronic lack of sleep can cause a wide range of symptoms, including impaired brain function, memory loss, depression, weight gain and irritability. Long-term health issues include increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Answer the following true/false questions to discover whether lack of sleep is getting in your way:
1. Instead of feeling refreshed when I wake up, I still feel tired.
2. I have to have coffee to get going in the morning and often depend upon other caffeine or sugar boosts to get through the day.
3. I feel easily irritated, impatient and/or moody, and my relationships are being affected.
Overcoming Overwhelm by Coming Back to Ourselves
Whether overwhelm is sudden or cumulative, chronic or acute, the feeling is of drowning, immobility and powerlessness. Luckily, there’s hope.
During times of overwhelm, everything feels too big. It’s not just everyday busyness and packed schedules. When we’re overwhelmed, making dinner becomes a monumental effort. Better eat out. Bills, housework? Forget it. Tasks that used to take only 10 or 15 minutes now seem utterly impossible. There seems to be no time for anything. So we do nothing.
Worse, we have no faith that this, too, shall pass. We seem hopelessly mired in the quicksand of “too much.” We keep trying to will our way out of the quicksand with a will that just wants to lie down.
We live in a very overwhelming time—much more so than in decades past, says Jan Boddie, Ph.D., a California therapist who trains individuals and consults with businesses on the topic.
Things are speeding up. Technology’s well-touted time saving seems to have yielded less leisure time, not more. Companies are demanding longer work hours. Many adults are sandwiched between the needs of older and younger generations....
Part of the problem is the cultural belief system in place, one that overrates doing and achievement and underrates quality of experience and connection with values.
Procrastination—Everyone Talks About It, but Nobody Does Anything
Imagine the space this article fills is blank. Imagine the time and energy it might take someone who procrastinates to: 1) think about doing the article 2) put it on a list of “to dos” 3) talk about doing it 4) promise himself he will start it tomorrow 5) promise himself he will definitely start it tomorrow….
As the deadline for the article draws near (it’s midnight the night before the article is due), imagine the stress the writer must feel as he brews a pot of coffee and sets himself up for a couple of hours to research the topic, organize the information, create an outline, come up with a dynamite opening line, write the article, rewrite the article, rewrite it again, print it out and rewrite it one more time. And, of course, the whole time he’s beating himself up for waiting so long to start and telling himself he’s no good at this job anyway and the article will be a bust.
This is procrastination in full, weedy flower. Delay. Broken promises and unfulfilled expectations. Feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Worry. Fear. Stress. Overwork and probably not as good an end product as the writer would have produced if he’d tackled the job in a timely, reasonable, professional manner.
Procrastination isn’t good for anyone, anytime. So why do so many do it? Not just around such matters as filing income tax and completing holiday shopping, but with everyday tasks such as cleaning off the desk or straightening up the garage or starting a project at work.
The more difficult, inconvenient or scary the task is perceived to be, the more procrastinators procrastinate. They come up with semi-convincing self-talk that makes the delay appear reasonable, but in the end it’s a self-defeating behavior that causes all sorts of problems, not the least of which is stress.
“Tolerations” Take a Toll at Work
What do desktop clutter, inadequate tools for the job, a too-chatty co-worker and a troublesome relationship with the boss have in common? They’re all tolerations, those little or big things we put up with that sap our energy and drain our life force.
At the root of our tolerations are a variety of limiting beliefs that immobilize us. For example: “I can’t take the time.” “That’s just the way it is.” “Don’t rock the boat—play it safe.” “Don’t complain or be too demanding.” “It’s not that important.” “I have no control.”
If we are committed to creating work and personal life that is balanced and fulfilling, if we want to fully express our unique gifts and be of service, it is necessary to consciously evaluate and eliminate the tolerations standing in our way. Here are some ideas on how to do that:
Appraise. Make an honest appraisal of what you are tolerating in each of the areas of your life: environment, health, work, money, relationship and so on. Write down everything that annoys you or that you feel you are putting up with. You will likely come up with more than 100 of these tolerations!
Choose. Based on your values and goals, you get to choose. What will you say “no” to? “Yes?” Make sure the “yeses” really excite you. Commit to making them real!
Too Many Passions?
Jack-of-all-trades, master of none! reveals the bias against those who choose a varied work life, but those “Renaissance Souls” have a lot to offer.
Jeff is nearing age 50 and has followed one passion after another into a variety of careers. Although each choice made perfect sense to him, his parents and friends keep asking when he’s going to get serious and rise to the top in just one profession.
The old saying: Jack-of-all-trades, master of none! reveals the bias against those who choose a varied work life rather than committing to a unidirectional path. There was a time, however, when society admired such a person. In fact, some of our greatest contributors have been talented in a variety of areas.
Leonardo da Vinci, painter of masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa, also designed and built bicycles, canals, musical instruments and flying machines. Benjamin Franklin not only helped draft the Declaration of Independence, he was also an inventor, statesman, printer, scientist, author, and student of French culture and language. More recently, Maya Angelou, best known as an author and poet, is also a successful songwriter, journalist, actress, singer, dancer, civil rights worker and professor. And she speaks eight languages!
When the Internet Becomes a Problem
Article explores the social, productivity, and physical problems associated with the Internet. How can one tell if there’s a problem? And what can one do about it?
The Internet is a wonderful tool. You can network with colleagues, reconnect with old friends, and accomplish in minutes such tasks like research, which used to take days.
So what’s the problem?
The Internet becomes a problem when we lose productivity, we become addicted to it, and when it becomes a substitute for real experiences with people, places and things.
Real Life vs. Web Life
George spends five to eight hours a day on the Web, traveling among his pages on several social networking sites. He presents himself alternately as an assertive and confident Casanova, an opinionated law student and a successful entrepreneur.
In real life, George is none of these. Painfully shy and self-critical, George keeps to himself.
“I feel more like myself when I’m online,” he says. But what he really means is, “I feel more like who I wish I was.”