If you struggle with completing all the things on your to-do list, you are not alone! This is one of the biggest complaints I work on with my clients. It is hugely frustrating and down right annoying. You know what you have to do, you are a highly capable and hard working adult, you value results and achievement. You should be able to get it all done, right? Wrong. Those have to and should statements are clues that you are likely going to struggle with the tasks at hand.
Let’s get to the WHY behind all the excuses so you can understand what’s really going on. Greater understanding sparks change, so get honest and start taking action.
Top 10 reasons Why You Aren’t Getting It Done (and tips to make it happen):
1. Motivation – Why are you doing this? If that’s not immediately clear, then you need to take the time to stop and understand that first. Without a driving motivation you, will have very little emotional engagement fueling your actions. The more passionate you are, the more likely it will be completed.
2. Fear – Whether its fear of failure, success, or something different all together, fear can paralyze us from taking action. Instead of tuning out your inner critic, listen to what it’s saying. Not feeling good enough is a major one, and causes us to completely doubt our own abilities. Take those critic statements with a grain of salt, or a whole salt shaker… they are almost never the truth.
3. Priority – Notice where this is on your priority list, really. Not at the top? It might be best to put it on the back burner for a while, and come back to it when it is more pressing. What is most important to you WILL take priority without you even thinking about it. Recognize what that might mean. If you say you value your relationships most, but you continually stay late at work, that may mean that achievement is actually more important for you right now. That’s okay, just be honest with yourself, and let yourself off the hook (ditch the guilt) when you are honoring your top value.
4. Buy In – It’s possible you don’t see the value in getting this done. What would it be worth to you when this is completed? What’s the pay off? What impact will this have on your life and others? If the answer is little to none, then this is just going to continue being a struggle. Only take on things that are valuable and meaningful to you; scrap the rest if possible.
5. Pain/Gain – We’ll endure current pain for future gain, but sometimes current gain does outweigh future pain when we make choices (Those three martinis last night sounded like a great plan to put off your assignment, but the foggy headache you experienced while you finished up the next morning was not worth it). Make sure you do recognize all angles: the current pain/gain AND the future pain/gain of succeeding. Once the pros and cons are all on the table, you may find a sudden perk to get you into action.
6. Pressure – You may have too much or not enough. Deadlines and accountability can push you into high gear for a couple days, or overwhelm you into a state of stagnation. Knowing a major project needs to be completed by tomorrow is one of the best motivators. But having a boss or superior peeking over your shoulder checking in can be over-bearing and cause doubt in your own ability. Use pressure as a gust of wind to your flame, but not the match itself.
7. Reward and Punishment – Many people need some consequential motivators to take action, but often the wrong type will have the opposite effect. Explore what works for you so you can use either to your advantage. More recently, studies have shown that both options actually decrease productivity, especially when it comes to more creative or intuitive projects. Choose wisely.
8. Expectation – you likely have unrealistic expectations of what you can accomplish in said amount of time. Take a look at what percentage of your to-do list gets done, and evaluate how much time is really needed to be invested in those projects. How often do you start something and leave it unfinished? Make a point to wrap up a higher percentage of your work this next week. That feeling of accomplishment will boost your likelihood of checking more off the list the following week.
9. Circumstances – sometimes there really are physical limitations holding you back. Notice when you or others have asked you to do something nearly impossible without the help of a magic genie or prophetic intervention. Before committing to something, evaluate what else you have going on. Keep your integrity intact by practicing the art of under-promise and over-deliver.
10. Time – It’s our number one excuse, yet very rarely is time actually the reason you can’t get something done. So stop using this explanation. You can blame time all you want, but that isn’t going to help. If you really want to do something, you MAKE TIME. Notice how there’s always time to watch top chef, but there never seems to be enough time to meet up with that annoying co-worker? You can decide how to spend it: you hold the power.