Why I Ditched Productivity Tools (Johanna's Agile Life Story, Part Three)

Updated: Mar 1

Here’s the thing: productivity tools can't save you. At least, not when you are building on a lopsided foundation. Batching and bullet journals made my work look prettier but I still felt like a failure.

And that's when it hit me: all my actions were coming from a place of being a failure.

I wasn't working hard to serve the client or live my dream life; I was working hard to make up for my weaknesses. I had the guts to quit my job, move to another continent, and become my own boss, but all of the changes in my life had shored up old coping mechanisms.

The failure mindset took a couple of forms:

  • I wasn't honest with myself and my clients. I worked with people I didn't actually enjoy, pretended I’d been on my career path longer than I had, and told myself I was okay with the rate the client asked for.

  • I had no boundaries. I let 55 minute calls go on for 75 minutes, agreed to more work than had originally been contracted, and stayed on call over the weekend.

  • My work had to be perfect. I spent hours working on simple article assignments, wouldn't launch my website without approval from friends, and took feedback as criticism.

  • Nothing I did was enough, hence the undercharging, self-doubting, and determination to work myself into a state of exhaustion. I needed to be tired just to prove I had done my best and deserved the money I received.

  • I thought I had to be successful at every stage of my business or my endeavor would be doomed. My inner critic cycled through the same lines over and over, "Nothing you do is enough", "Nobody takes you seriously", "You have to prove yourself."

Bullet journals hadn't made a difference in my business because I wouldn't let them. I was gripping tightly to every task, thinking it was the difference between failure and success.

How could I let myself relax when I saw relaxation as admitting failure?

But I was tired. And I knew the way I was doing business was hurting me. I had spent the last months investing in surface-level changes.

I decided to spend the next month's investing in a mindset overhaul that would save my business – and my relationship with myself.

Go straight to Part Four

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