1. I've been busy all day, so that must mean I've been super-productive. It is easy to spend your day busying yourself with "digital time-fillers" like replying to emails, tweeting or instant messaging. However, this is not being productive at all because none of these actions involve working towards a goal. The same rules go for filling your day with meetings -- it gives you the appearance of being busy but doesn't mean you've completed any significant tasks.
To catch yourself in this lie, keep a 'done list.' This is a list of tasks you have completed in the day, rather than a list of things you still need to do. This list will show you how you have spent your day and give you a better idea of where your productivity is lacking.
2. I have to be on my computer to stay productive. There was a time not so long ago when email was non existent and people got things done by using a pen and paper. Not to mention that spending your day tied to your laptop can come with its own, wide set of distractions.
If you are in a creative field, such as writing or illustrating, try to step away from your computer every once in a while and go old-school with a pad of paper instead. A small change in your day can help get the creative juices flowing. If your work absolutely requires a computer, take a few minutes to step away and tidy up your desk or grab a coffee with colleagues.
3. I have to wake up early to be productive. Everyone has their own personal body clock, which keeps them on a regular sleep schedule. Some work best in the early hours of the morning while others work best late at night. Know which time of day you are at your most productive and adjust your body clock accordingly.
4. I'm not procrastinating, I'll just do it tomorrow. There's always that one task that keeps getting pushed back to the next day, but it eventually gets stuck in a vortex of procrastination and becomes a permanent item on your to-do list.
The way to counteract this is to make yourself accountable. Meet with your team members or a group of peers once a week to go over your progress and what you hope to accomplish in the upcoming week. If you don't have a group, check out apps like iDoneThis and Lift, which will help you stay on top of your goals.
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