Aim for Discomfort
You feel perpetually behind. Teammates waiting on you for answers. Appointments jamming your calendar like a game of Tetris. That big deadline looming large. And a list of three dozen tasks and projects clawing for the remaining scraps of your time that aren't already pre-committed.
There has to be a way to reign this in. "If I could only get my shit together," you tell yourself. "This wouldn't be so difficult." So you try that new to-do app. You dig into that productivity system. You try out those "life hacks" you saw on your Facebook feed. Soon, you've developed an addiction to productivity porn.
For a while, it helps. But eventually, you find a hard truth, the discomfort always returns. It was only masked temporarily by the novelty, by the promise of a cure for your angst. When hope for your salvation fades, so does your enthusiasm. Your latest system, app, or hack goes in the digital dustbin with the slew that came before it. You resign yourself to your fate. "I'm just not cut out for this productivity stuff," you sigh.
Where did this go wrong? Let's take a step back. Maybe you set out to solve the wrong problem...
The process of work is inherently messy and uncomfortable. You feel scattered. Unfocused. Unsure. You feel perpetually behind. Scrambling. Struggling to keep up. Inundated. Overwhelmed. And the moment you finally feel like you've caught up, the process of falling behind starts all over again.
It's no wonder you want productivity solutions that will make the pain go away. You want to set it and forget it. You want your work to feel tidy. Linear. Orderly. Predictable. You want to be assured. Confident you're working on the right things, in the right ways, at the right times.
And that's the problem...
No productivity solution can grant you this state of nirvana in more than fleeting glimpses. Complexity and uncertainty reign supreme. And if we set their banishment as our measure for productivity success, then everything we try is doomed to fail.
What if, instead, you could learn to accept discomfort? Hell, what if you could turn it into a competitive advantage? Discomfort is a sign that you are growing, that you're pushing hard enough. It is a signpost, a mile marker clearly delineating the point at which your competition will give up and turn back. Keep pushing. Every step forward from here puts distance between you and the pack.
Work is messy. And getting your shit together is an inherently difficult and uncomfortable process. Productivity apps, hacks, and frameworks can help but will always come up short without the right mindset. The real key to getting a grip is internal. Reframe your discomfort. Push through it. Learn to see it is a positive sign. You're growing, creating value, and putting distance between yourself and the competition. Stop looking for the silver bullet. There are no secrets.
This is supposed to feel uncomfortable.