Is the key to increasing productivity psychological or technological?
Is the key to increasing productivity psychological or technological?

Imagineโ€ฆ you're preparing for a big presentation tomorrow. Suddenly, the CFO Slacks @everyone that expense reports are due by end of day. Next, Rachel from Operations sends you a direct project request in Asana. In fact, you're receiving constant notifications โ€” all of them vying for your immediate attention! ย 

The result? Your brain is overwhelmed by competing projects. You're starting to feel anxious and hesitant, and it's almost impossible to focus. You're under siege from productivity blockers โ€” and you need to overcome them if you want to accomplish your goals.

Productivity blockers at play

There are 2 main types of productivity blockers: psychological and technological.

These blockers prevent us from being as productive as we would like, and we've all experienced them! So what are they, and how can you address each type to improve your workflow?

Psychological blockers

Psychological blockers are invisible barriers that prevent you from being productive. They manifest in numerous ways, like anxiety, indecision, and negative self-talk.

Left unchecked, they can make challenges feel insurmountable, and cause you to procrastinate to avoid your never-ending to-do list.

But there are ways to overcome this! One of the most popular strategies is: eat the frog first.

The "frog" is the hardest task you have to accomplish. By doing it first, everything afterward will seem easy by comparison.

As Brian Tracy, author of "Eat That Frog!", explains: eating the frog helps you remove psychological blockers and get more done.

Psychological blockers take many forms, and sometimes there's a physical root cause. Here are some common psychological blockers and how to tackle them:

  • You feel tired and stressed โ€” made worse by a lack of regular breaks.

    Solution: Schedule 15-minute breaks 2 or 3 times throughout the day. Put them in your calendar as meetings with yourself, to help you build the habit.

  • You feel frazzled and overworked โ€” and with a packed schedule and no time for a lunch break, your energy keeps dropping as the day goes on.

    Solution: Prepare quick and healthy snacks for your 15-minute breaks, so you don't waste time figuring out what to eat.

  • You feel unable to focus โ€” compounded by your distractingly messy desk!

    Solution: Create an organized work environment. Remove clutter, and keep everything you need within reach, so you can avoid rummaging through drawers and hunting for your phone charger.

  • Time keeps running away from you โ€” making you miss deadlines and feel hesitant about your priorities.

    Solution: Try the Pomodoro Technique. Not only can this help you get through your to-do list, but it can also help you evaluate how long different tasks take โ€” so you can manage your time better in the future.

Technological blockers

To combat psychological blockers, look inward. But for technological blockers, look at your toolkit.

For example, do you have too many apps on your phone or desktop, and are they cluttering your interface and creating distractions? Consider whether you can uninstall some apps, and remove others from your desktop.

Then there are push notifications, which can be extremely jarring: they distract you, and interrupt your flow state. But it's easy to take control of your notifications.

You can use apps like Freedom, or install Chrome extensions like StayFocusd, to limit your time on sites that distract you from work.

In apps like Trello, Asana, and Slack, you can determine what notifications you receive and where. In your settings, you can ensure all notifications go to your inbox, or enable/disable push notifications, as well as set exactly when you get those notifications. This can be very helpful in silencing the digital noise.

When it comes to email, the challenge is two-fold: notifications and task switching.

Deal with the former by changing your notification settings. The latter is a little trickier. In most email clients, your messages arrive in a muddled stream, forcing you to constantly switch tasks โ€” this means you work more slowly and make more errors.

But Superhuman's Split Inbox removes the need for task switching: you can process messages one stream at a time, enabling you to stay focused and get through email faster.

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How can you overcome blockers and increase your productivity?

When it comes to productivity, there's no silver bullet. You need to take a holistic approach to how you work: from psychological blockers to your technological toolkit. This combination will limit blockers and improve your productivity.

How to overcome psychological blockers

One of the most successful ways to work through psychological blockers is to incorporate self-care in your routine.

"Not only were we not taught how to take care of our energy needs," says Dr Cynthia Ackrill, one of the editors for Contentment Magazine (produced by the American Institute of Stress). "We've even been rewarded for ignoring them in the pursuit of 'success'. But you can start to balance your energy equation by making small changes."

From getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet, to taking breaks from technology and spending time outdoors, self-care looks different for everyone. Whatever self-care means for you, it should bring you joy and a mental break.

And never underestimate the power of sprucing up your work environment! Regardless of where you work, make sure it's comfortable, well lit, and clutter-free.

How to overcome technological blockers

Many of us are stressed out and pulled in multiple directions every day. And although technology can bring distractions, it can also heighten your productivity.

Slack helps teams communicate instantly. Mural allows teams a simple way to collaborate visually. And email remains indispensable to most knowledge workers โ€” but not everyone realizes how taxing email is for your productivity. With Superhuman, you can save 3 hours a week or more on email.

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Increase your productivity with a few small changes at a time

With all these tips, you can nip productivity problems in the bud! Start by signing up for Superhuman today.