If you’re like most admins and assistants, you have comprehensive schedules and lengthy “to do” lists. We’re really good at listing what needs to be done, so why is it that we sometimes have trouble getting motivated to act? Before we explore how to overcome inertia, avoidance
First, it is generally thought that the most productive people are those who get started on projects or tasks right away and finish early. However, some people are deadline driven, not task driven, and can be just as productive—sometimes with higher quality results. Second, we often hear from experts that we should strive for a positive attitude. While it is true that optimism can help us get more done, it is also true that negative emotions can motivate us. All of our feelings have a strong impact on our ability to get things done. We think when we plan but feelings motivate us to act.
Mary Lamia, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, a professor at the Wright Institute at Berkeley, and the author of What Motivates Getting Things Done: Procrastination, Emotions, and Success
Task Versus Deadline Motivations
Task-driven people are motivated to get tasks off their plate; deadline-driven people feel extra planning and exploration create better results and are motivated by deadlines. We are talking here about procrastinators who nevertheless DO bring projects and tasks in on time. Lamia doesn’t see either approach as better than the other; the goal is to use your style to its best effect.
However, colleagues with these different motivational styles can encounter challenges when working together and clash based on when something gets done. Task-driven people often don’t trust a deadline-driven coworker to complete something or to do a good job when the deadline is upon them. On the other hand, task-driven people can submit work that needs further revision. (They are motivated to get something off their plate as soon as possible.) Task-driven people may assume their deadline-driven partners will forget to do something and so they issue reminders or, resentfully, do it themselves. A deadline-driven partner is likely to be offended by constant reminders since he or she usually knows what must be done and how long it will take. In close working relationships, it is important to recognize the impact of each other’s style and be upfront about differences.
Negative Emotions as a Motivator
There is no doubt that optimism can help us succeed because either we anticipate feeling proud or satisfied or because we are excited by the task. But it is also true that many people are motivated to avoid or relieve emotions like worry, anxiety, shame or stress. While the fear of failure may paralyze some, many successful people use negative emotions as fuel to get the job done.
It is common to consciously or subconsciously fear that we will not perform well—that we will be embarrassed. This worry and anxiety create stress immediately for those who are task-driven, and is in the back of the minds of deadline-driven people until they were motivated by a deadline. Worry and anxiety are most often discussed by productivity experts as emotions that cloud the thinking and get in the way. However, in her book, Mary Lamia takes the position that they can focus your attention and energize you. The key is to recognize your emotions and use them as fuel to perform.
So, how to we sidestep avoidance and procrastination? How do we harness our stress? Read on.
The #1 Tool Successful People Use to Make Things Happen
Some people can apply their skills get things done, and others struggle. Having clear priorities is the foundation of success. The most productive people have a clear sense of which tasks and projects are the most important. You cannot just collect a list of what needs to be done; you must put those items in the order of greatest importance and work to the priorities every day.
The ability to establish and communicate priorities is as important for highly productive teams as it is for individuals. Confusion about what the goals and priority tasks are or which actions come first is the root of most team miscommunication when working on projects. It is critical that all team members share a common understanding of goals and priorities.
18 Actions to Help You Get Going