Author: Christopher R. Edgar

Why Craving “Results” Gets Us No Results

One of the most common concerns I hear from people I work with is that, when they’re trying to focus on a project at work, they find themselves worrying that what they’re doing won’t get them any meaningful results.

For example, perhaps they’re writing an article, and they find themselves worrying that no one will read it. Maybe they’re concerned that the marketing strategy they’re working on won’t create sales. Or perhaps they just keep getting the nagging feeling that there’s something more important they could be doing.

Usually, to get rid of this anxiety, people switch tasks, jumping from drafting that presentation to writing that long e-mail. Yet somehow, shortly after they start their new task, they often find the same worry arising. So, they move to yet another project.

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Getting Productive By “Getting Real”

In this post, I’ll talk about how dropping our efforts to please others with the way we look and act can actually help us get more done and find more joy in our work.

As you know, most of us work in environments where other people are around — whether we’re in an office, on our laptops in a café, or somewhere else.

When others are around, many of us start getting concerned about what those people think of us. To manage this anxiety, we start talking and behaving in ways we think will make the “right impression.”

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How To Build A Longer Attention Span

We often read in productivity literature that we’ll be able to accomplish whatever we want, once we take any potential distractions out of our workspace — by disconnecting the internet and phone, putting the TV in another room, and so on.

But there’s something this approach doesn’t deal with. Even if we remove every possible distraction from our environment, we’ll still be left with our own minds. Even if we can’t flee from work by surfing the internet, we can always run away by daydreaming, reminiscing, making up worst-case scenarios about what the boss is going to say, and so on.

In other words, if we find it hard to focus on a single task for a long time, just rearranging our work environment won’t help much. This is why I think it’s important to practice holding our attention.

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Productivity and Owning Our Shadow

In this post, I’ll offer a perspective on procrastination, and an approach to dealing with it, that you probably haven’t heard before.

Often, in my experience, we put off working on a project because we know making progress in our task will force us to face some part of ourselves — some aspect of our personalities — we aren’t fully okay with.

Once, I worked with an accountant who was constantly anxious about turning in reports to her boss, because he tended to make comments she found abrasive. When we explored this further, we discovered that, when her boss was critical, she felt angry. And she was frightened by that feeling — that roiling, fiery energy that came up in her solar plexus.

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Mindfully Moving Beyond Multitasking

It’s become a truism in productivity literature that we shouldn’t multitask. Constantly switching between projects, we’re told, wastes time, because we need to reorient ourselves whenever we change tasks.

In working with clients on productivity issues, I’ve noticed that, although some people understand intellectually that multitasking is bad, they have trouble kicking the habit. As hard as they try to zero in on a single project, they find their attention constantly jumping around — from writing that e-mail, to coding that computer program, to folding their socks, and so on.

In other words, for these people, multitasking isn’t really a choice — it’s more like something that happens to them. But why?

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