How I Overcame the Productivity Rabbit-Hole

How I Overcame the Productivity Rabbit-Hole
Photo by Dylan Ferreira / Unsplash

If you're anything like me, you've watched a handful of productivity videos before bed and fell asleep motivated and ready to become a brand new person by the time the sun rose.

...And if you're still anything like me, you woke up and nothing changed. The motivation, the drive, turned into nothing. I've done this countless times over the past 4 years, but I've finally realized what stopped me from making the changes that I wanted.

Information Overload

Productivity videos on YouTube often explain many ideas for the viewer to implement. Many of the videos I've seen followed the "10 Productivity Tips for Students" title structure that often got my attention, but did very little to make me change my habits.

But why is this?

Many of these videos mention scheduling, removing distractions, changing your environment, and many other useful productivity tips but conveying these ideas in one long video is what stopped me from actually taking action.

Every time I woke up in the morning after my "Productivity-Tube" binge, I would have so many options that I could choose to implement. Unfortunately, this would result in choice paralysis. I would have so many options that I would choose none of them because I was afraid of picking the "worst" option. I completely disregarded that any choice would improve my productivity in some way, but I was obsessed with picking the most impactful choice. I'm not sure if there is a "best" choice, but the worst choice is taking no action.

The Reddit-Induced Realization

How did I come to this realization? ...Reddit.

Let me explain.

I was, ironically, looking for the "best" note-taking app that I could use to organize my thoughts (Future Post 😃). I had heard of a few, but could never really get into them because of the learning curve. I was looking at what other people had to say, and I noticed many of them moving away from Notion because they realized they spent more time trying to maximize productivity than actually being productive.

That's when it clicked. I would never be productive if kept stressing over what would make me the most productive. I needed to start with one thing at a time. It's impossible for me to try and change all of my habits at once and personally, I needed to ease into it slowly.

So I did.

Taking Action

The very first step I took on my productivity journey was to...make a schedule.

I know it sounds lame, but over the course of the past few weeks, my life has transformed. Here's how I did it.

Google Calendar/Google

I use Google Calendar. I already had a Gmail so this was an easy choice. The way I use Google Calendar is by blocking out time to work on certain tasks. For example, I can dedicate 3:00 - 6:00 PM to work on homework. I may not need all of this time, but that is the time I've set for the day to complete that task. Also, I may not start at 3:00 PM exactly, and that is fine. That's why I give myself a large chunk of time to get it done.

Schedule Example

I've noticed that if I try to set shorter, specific tasks on my calendar, I don't leave enough wiggle room if things don't follow the schedule exactly. Most of my days revolve around homework and research, so I always allocate time each day to get both of these tasks done. Any free time left on the schedule is left for me to fill in with whatever I want. I try to fill out the calendar each Saturday with everything that I know I have planned. I try to leave room for any unexpected or new events that may come up throughout the week.

As a result of scheduling, I don't have to stress about what I'm going to do each day. I already have it written down, and all I have to do is get it done. If I ever forget, I just open the app and there it is. If you struggle to have a healthy balance between work and leisure, I can't recommend scheduling enough.

The Point

The point of this is not to convince you that you need to schedule your life on Google Calendar. That's what works for me, and that may not work for you.

The main idea I'm trying to get across is that you need to take action. Rather than dwelling on what may or may not work, you need to experiment. Try something. If it doesn't work, try something else. Just make sure to try things one at a time. I've always struggled with this issue of trying to pick the "best" choice, but the truth is that doesn't exist. Everyone is different. If you want to change something about yourself, you have all the power to do it, but you need to take action.

If this post can help at least one person, I'll be happy. I've struggled with what now seems like such a simple issue, but I couldn't have solved it without reading what other people were going through. If there's any topic that you want me to cover, please reach out to my email!

Thank you for reading!