The big productivity killer in your vocabulary.

Judith Guertin Posted in Getting Organized

Stop shoulding and start doing.

The big productivity killer in your vocabulary.

What should I do?

This question often leads to a discussion of what is “best”, and where can I find the perfect tool?
You want to do the right thing, the best thing, the thing that will make someone else proud. How does it make you feel when you ask yourself, what should I do? When you ask what should I do, does it lead you to do something or not?

Psychologist Clayton Barbeau coined the term, “shoulding yourself” referring to the intense pressure to do something in a certain way based on what we think we “should do.” The word should causes you to do one of two things, you freeze unable to move forward or you run away and avoid the work altogether. Either way, you are not doing the work. When I work with clients, I see some big emotions attached to shoulding yourself, like fear, guilt, and shame. Fear of the consequences for not completing the task; guilt for falling behind; and shame for not asking for help in the beginning when you knew you needed help.

Fear, guilt, and shame are the creation of your “inner critic.” The critic is the voice inside your head that tells you are not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, or ... add your own inner rantings here… The critic has impossibly high standards that can stop productivity in its tracks. I tell you this as a recovering perfectionist, the critic’s standards are a real productivity killer.

The inner critic has a partner in crime known as Imposter Syndrome. You may know this bully as the self-doubt you feel despite all your successes, the number of people you helped, and the accolades you earned. You just know you will be unmasked at any moment. People will find out you are a fraud. I think most of you can remember circumstances where you felt the pain of imposter syndrome, the nagging ache that someone will find you out.

The inner critic and “imposter syndrome” do their best work together. So, how can you free yourself from the grasp of the inner critic and imposter syndrome?

Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Instead of the shaming, judgemental, guilt inducing, inner critic, invite the compassionate, achievement oriented, action hero to your aid. Change the “I should” statement to one that starts with I will… write that email, send in that application, call that customer, work on that proposal... Plot clear and deliberate next steps for your process.

Deciding, creating and using systems, planning and scheduling, are antidotes to these two bullies. Instead of listening to the critic, think about the next step in your project. Better yet, as my mentor Barbara Hemphill taught me, the important question to ask is: “what will you do?” Think about that for a moment. What WILL you do? Is it making a phone call, writing an email, writing some documentation, making an audio recording, signing up for training, organizing something, hiring a coach? What will you do? The more clarity you have about what you will do, the easier it will be to put it on your schedule and complete.

Feeling stuck? Ask for help. It is ok to get help with how to: organize your office, manage your filing system, create a digital file naming structure, tame your inbox, plan your day, manage your decisions, use software tools to automate routine tasks, use shortcuts in your software tools, among many other things.

Some time ago, I wrote about the difference between "deciding" and "decided." Deciding is choosing between several choices. Microsoft, Chromebook or Mac? Paper, Digital, or a combination of Paper and Digital Calendars? Android or iPhone? OneDrive, Drive, Dropbox or Box? Once you have decided, there is no need to ask all the questions again: is this the right tool, the right time, the right program, because you've decided. You know the answer, you picked a tool, you know which calendar to put your appointments in. You are in action mode. You are ready to execute, to do what you decided.

Now is a great time to embrace systems, learn more about the tools you already own, build powerful habits and free yourself from the inner critic.
Want something you can do today to get on the path to powerful productivity.

Coming September 10, 2020, at 4 p.m. EST, Elisabeth Galperin and Kerry Thomas, and I are offering something new:

Productivity Matters Webinars

Three experts with different points of view and experience coming together to guide you in building your Productivity.
With over 45 years of experience between us, we are joining forces to help you understand how to: shape your vision, remove and overcome obstacles, plan, make the best use of your time, build successful systems, select and use tools at a deeper level and more!

In our first session on September 10, we have a powerful activity planned for you, Creating a Productivity Vision Board. No supplies needed! This is your time to dream and think big!!!

Join us because your Productivity Matters! See you there!
Here is the link to sign up.
Creating Your Productivity Vision Board Webinar