If you know me at all, you know that I’m like a QVC host when it comes to talking about productivity and time management. After talking about something nonstop for a short time, something else becomes the latest and greatest thing that you just HAVE to try. I’m getting a headache just thinking about listing them all with links, so I’ll skip doing that.
The last couple of days I’ve noticed the signs that I was about to start looking for a new product to pitch. I was reading about methods I’d already tried and discarded (GTD and Toodledo) as well as a method of phone automation that would require me to get a degree in engineering to set up. I first noticed my own tendency to perpetually seek out new methods of managing tasks when I hung out on Mark Forster’s forum. Every couple of weeks there, I would post about the latest tweak or software program I was using. What’s more, the psychologist in me was fascinated by the number of people (including Forster himself) who did the same.
What’s Wrong With Me?
I’ve spent years in personal productivity “psychoanalysis” and plenty of time diagnosing others’ time management woes. Some of the factors that lead to serial program addiction include:
- Overcommitment – We often switch programs to avoid dealing with the fact that we simply can’t do everything
- Perfectionism – We sometimes believe (against better judgment that the right program would allow us to get everything done every day)
- Comparison – We may believe that others are getting more (or more important) things done because of the approach they are using
- Discontentment – We think that somehow we can have more time to do what we want if we change programs
- Boredom – We may recall the last little bit of excitement we had when changing approaches to getting things done and switch gears for a pick-me-up
The Real Reason We Change our Task Management Approach
Those insights haven’t kept me from once again going down the slow road to sloth. So I asked myself WHY once again.
I immediately thought, “I need to get motivated.”
A reasonable rationale, for sure. After all, I had a whole blog devoted to motivating homeschoolers. A desire for motivation underlies all the other factors that lead to problems with our current approach. If we’re overcommitted, we feel we need to get motivated to get more done or drop some commitments. If we’re perfectionistic or comparing, we think motivation is just what we need to get our time management up to standard. If we’re discontented or bored, we believe that a good shot of motivation will be a cure-all. But for the first time, I questioned the premise. Do I really need to get motivated?
The Charles (Pa) Ingalls Productivity Approach
One of my heroes is Charles Ingalls, Pa from the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I would love to know if he was really the incredible dad and man Laura made him out to be. I hope so! A model of productivity, he built homes and fences, farmed, hunted, traded, parented, helped his neighbors, and played the violin. Along the way, he seemed to have a lot of fun. I can’t imagine this productivity hero of mine ever saying, “I need to get motivated.” Pa saying he needed to get motivated to build furniture, make the long, cold trip to buy supplies, or harvest the hay? Laughable.
Was Pa just naturally motivated, I wondered? Perhaps he got more of the motivation gene than the average person. Maybe that was my problem. I just lack the super charge I need to get things done and it isn’t my fault; I wasn’t born with the gene.
Like romantic love, motivation wasn’t considered necessary to be faithful in times past. Pa didn’t need motivation to do what needed to be done and neither did Ma. They didn’t read about every conceivable way to achieve their goals; they just got busy and didn’t worry about the rest. Believing that we need motivation is like thinking we need a smart phone to get things done. It’s nice, but NOT necessary.
Christians aren’t commanded to have the mind of Pa Ingalls, but the mind of Christ. What if Jesus had thought, “I need to get motivated before I feed these people, heal this man, go to the cross”? Thank God, He didn’t.
Why It Only Takes 5 Minutes to Super Charge Your Productivity
In the time it’s taken you to read (or skim) this post, you have exactly what you need to have super-powered productivity: Recognize that you do NOT need to be motivated. Nike was right: Just DO it.
If you’re still here:
- Close the app store window (you don’t need a new productivity app)
- Stop reorganizing your to-do list
- Do just one thing and repeat