In my line of research, I do a lot of reading about self-development and productivity hacks (for example, check here and here). While there are lots of good tips out there (get more sleep, wake up earlier, eat the frog first, etc.) lately I have been thinking that there are really 2 exceptional productivity tools that almost all of us have at our ready disposal — our smart phones and our self-talk.
The fascinating thing about these two productivity tools is that — depending on how you master them — they are either devastatingly powerful in helping you accomplish your goals, or just plain devastating in distracting you and keeping you off balance and unproductive.
Same tool, wielded differently, drastically different results.
Let’s look at the smart phone first. If YOU MANAGE THIS TOOL, you have instant access to email, the internet, thousands of contacts, GPS coordinates, and an almost unlimited number of apps to help you conduct your business and achieve your goals. No matter where you are, you have your office in your pocket. Now that is a productivity tool!
Of course, if you let THE TOOL MANAGE YOU, you have endless, pointless distractions in your day. Your work is interrupted a hundred times a day by some noise that takes you off task and encourages you to waste a few minutes interacting with it. Your home life gets interrupted also, your relationships suffer, and you literally get a pain in the neck. It’s about the furthest thing from a productivity tool now.
The situation is the same with self-talk. If you MANAGE YOUR SELF-TALK, you can use this inner voice to pump yourself up, to encourage yourself to push forward, to build up your confidence and resilience. But if you let your SELF-TALK MANAGE YOU, then you are in for a world of despair, limiting thoughts, and generally a downer of a life. (If you want to explore this concept further, I recommend reading Carol Dweck’s book Mindset).
As with all of our tools, tools by themselves are neutral. A hammer can be used for productive or destructive purposes. It doesn’t really care — it’s a hammer.
Same with our devices and same with our self-talk. It is the intent and discipline of the operator that can make a tool highly productive. Think about that the next time your smart-phone buzzes at you, or your inner voice tells you you’re not worthy. These are your tools; you can master them if you really want to.