Imagine feeling completely organized and stress free; imagine never feeling overwhelmed or frustrated again. You arrive at work, you get what you need done and you leave each day with an immense sense of achievement. You go home and work is forgotten until the next day. I know, this may seem like the elusive dream for many, but it is certainly possible.

What do you think are some of the underlying factors influencing how productive you are? Ok, so there are many different factors that contribute to our performance and to cover them all would require me to write a book, not an article.

When I think about the many things that undermine performance, I tend to first think of things that are not obvious to us, your blind spots.  These are most often the most damaging to your results, simply because you are not aware of them, so you continue to sabotage yourself.

The way you think is directly related to your results and unfortunately, most of us have bad thinking habits. Here are some examples of bad thinking patterns that could be causing you to be less productive and frustrated with time.

1.  Presumptuous

When you make an assumption, you come to a false conclusion and opinion of something which is most often far from the truth. When you make assumptions about situations or people, you limit yourself. Assuming that you don’t have the skills, the education, the experience or the knowledge to do something is limiting, you can always learn what you need to.

Most of the time, you might not even try because you have already assumed you will fail, or that it won’t work or that something is pointless. For example, if you have told yourself that getting organized is too complicated, you are assuming that, it is not impossible for anyone to get organized. Assuming that you can’t change your bad habits is another common presumption.

2.  Should

How often do you tell yourself that you ‘should be achieving more’ or that ‘you should have more structure in your day’? This undermines your productivity because you are so focused on what you think you should be doing that you don’t think about why you are not doing it and what you can be doing to make it work for you. You need to change the ‘I should do this’ to ‘I am doing this’.

Thinking that you should be doing things that you are not, is disempowering and it is unhelpful. Be more proactive in changing what you want to and make more effort to achieve what you desire.

3.  Blaming

You need to take responsibility for your results, good and bad. Blaming other people for your mistakes, or pointing your finger at everything and everybody else except yourself, is immature. You absolutely need to take responsibility for your results. You create your life with every thought and decision you make each moment of the day. Once you are on the cause and not at the effect side of your life, you are more empowered and motivated because you are not a victim anymore.

4.  Over-generalizing

How often have you not attempted to do something because you thought it was too hard? Over-generalizing can also undermine your productivity. How? If you are over generalizing you are drawing a conclusion about something that is too general and when you do this, you block creativity and insight as well.

You need to be able to spot opportunities to optimize your time or ways to adjust a system to work better for you, or do something that everybody says is difficult.

For example, you might think that to-do lists don’t work because many people have failed to use them successfully. So for this reason, you don’t use them, yet at the same time you are struggling to master your time. Instead, you could learn ways to make your to-do list work for you and stop letting over-generalizing dictate your experience.

5.  Ignoring the positives

It is ironic how we find ourselves focusing on all the reasons why we can’t do something or change something instead of all the reasons why we can. When you focus on the positive you feel better about yourself because you are thinking with a better mindset. This allows you to come up with new ideas, make things work for you and spot opportunities.

On the contrary, when you focus on the negative, your body gets tense and your mind gets stressed. This is really counter-productive, there is no way you can perform as productively when your mind cannot think straight.

It is said that we have around 60 000 thoughts a day, most of them are on automatic and we ‘thought more than we think.  We can control our thoughts, we can choose how we want to think and therefore feel and act about something. However, we don’t because most of the time we are not aware of our thoughts and when we are, we never challenge them.

Don’t forget that your external world reflects your internal world and if you want to be more productive, improve your time management skills and get more organized, then look at how your thinking is influencing this. When you can master your thoughts, you can master your life and the results you get.

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” Henry Ford


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