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How to stop feeling guilty for not being as productive as you hoped – NBC 6 South Florida

To-do lists are helpful in keeping us on track. But from time to time, they can also make us feel bad about things we don’t pay attention to.

To overcome these feelings of disappointment, it’s important to check in with yourself in several key ways, says Cal Newport, a professor at Georgetown University and author of the book “Slow Productivity.”

First, “it’s helpful to recognize that we’re very bad at making predictions,” Newport says.

“If I sit here at the beginning of a month and say, ‘How many things do I think I can accomplish this month?’ I’m definitely going to be extremely optimistic, which means that when I get to the end of the month, I’ll probably be disappointed. »

This is normal and, in some ways, a good thing, Newport adds. It may mean that you have ambitious goals and are motivated to achieve them. But this requires taking a look at the daily obstacles that stand in your way.

Start by examining how much have you accomplished over a longer period of time

“Humans are really bad at estimating the time required for cognitive tasks,” says Newport. So, to get a better idea of ​​how much you can actually accomplish in a certain amount of time, think back to everything you accomplished in the last quarter or year.

Think: what things are you proud of? What project outcomes were impactful, and did you actually spend most of your time and energy getting there?

Next, see if there’s a disconnect between the tasks you’ve been doing every day and whether they’re doing great work. Let’s say you’ve been feeling busier than ever between meetings, emails, and instant messages over the past month, but you’re disappointed that you’ve only accomplished two of your four goals.

You may be over-indexing on productivity based on the activities or small tasks that keep you busy throughout the day.

Looking at the bigger picture, “when you shift to a results-based productivity mindset, you start to see a lot of these things as barriers to actually getting things done,” says Newport. “And it completely changes the tenor of a day. Now a very busy day with a lot of meetings or communications seems like a bad thing.”

This review can alleviate guilt and disappointment in yourself and help you readjust your expectations going forward. It can also motivate you to let go of busy work to make room for meaningful endeavors in the future.

How to eliminate “pseudo-productivity” tasks

To eliminate some of this tedious work, see how much you can streamline administrative tasks like holding meetings and emailing project updates.

One solution is to keep a public list of your projects, ranked by priority, with status updates and delivery deadlines. Direct your manager and colleagues to this list to provide updates on where things stand and when they can expect deliverables. Keeping this list current could take some meetings and emails off your plate.

Newport also recommends preserving more of your protected time, like setting up meeting-free days for yourself throughout the week. You can also try the “one for you, one for me” method: when you book an hour-long meeting with someone else, block out an hour of independent work.

Finally, another principle of slow productivity is simply doing less, but obsessing about doing fewer things very well.

“It’s an interesting waking moment that affects the way you think about the near future,” Newport said. Keep in mind: “Am I focusing on the things that really matter? Am I giving them enough time if I’m too busy?

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