Are you as productive as you’d like to be? If you are reading this post, I guess the answer to that question is “no.” Otherwise, you wouldn’t be interested in discovering the secret to unlocking increased productivity levels, would you?
As a Certified High Performance Coach, I have many productivity strategies, tips, and hacks I can offer to nonfiction writers. I often provide them to my clients and the members of the Nonfiction Writers’ University.
But I’m not going to do that…not today, anyway.
Instead, I will give away the biggest secret to productivity I’ve discovered to date. This secret has nothing to do with typical high-performance productivity strategies, like using a planner, reducing distraction, or even increasing your energy. Instead, it has everything to do with your level of self-integrity.
Keeping Promises to Yourself
Typically, integrity is defined as a firm adherence to a moral code or values. Self-integrity, or personal integrity, means sticking to your morals and values. However, it’s also about doing what you’ve told yourself you’re going to do.
Therefore, as a self-integral person, you demonstrate a high level of personal commitment and accountability for the promises you make to yourself. A self-integral person follows Socrates’ advice: “To thine own self be true.”
You may find it easy to keep promises to other people, and that’s all about integrity. But if you lack self-integrity, you will break your promises to yourself over and over again. For instance, you might promise yourself you will write daily. Then, almost every day you make other things a priority. As a result, you don’t keep your word. You don’t write.
Those broken promises can wreak havoc on your productivity levels—especially if the commitment is related to getting your writing done. Plus, a lack of self-integrity lowers your self-esteem, and you know how hard it is to write productively when you feel lousy about yourself.
Where Do You Lack Self-Integrity?
If you lack self-integrity around your writing, I would wager that your writing productivity level is lower than you’d like.
For example, I would like to be more productive with my current book project. I block time on my calendar—a super productivity hack—for writing. Still, I don’t use those periods for writing.
Simply said, I don’t keep my promise to myself to write daily.
Why? I lack self-integrity in my writing. I just don’t do what I tell myself I’ll do…like consistently working on my book project.
That lack of self-integrity means I also lack productivity. As a result, my writing project progresses very slowly…if at all.
As a result, I feel like a failure for not meeting my writing or career goals. The fact that I don’t stay committed to the project or have self-integrity doesn’t help, and I end up feeling defeated. That mindset makes it all the more difficult to write.
Do you see the correlation between your lack of self-integrity and low productivity?
It Doesn’t Matter Why You Lack Self-Integrity
Just because I lack self-integrity around my book project doesn’t mean I am not self-integral and productive in other areas of my life. For instance, I don’t lack self-integrity with my exercise routine or self-hypnosis practice. On the contrary, I do these things consistently when I say I will. I even get my blog posts (like this one) written and published every week.
But the reasons won’t make me more self-integral or productive.
Likewise, knowing why you don’t do what you say you will do—write—is unnecessary. And knowing why you lack personal integrity won’t help you keep your promises or increase your productivity levels…at least not consistently or long term.
Simply said, the reasons don’t make a difference. In fact, more often than not, reasons are excuses, and excuses don’t help you increase your productivity level any more than reasons.
So why focus on them?
Instead, focus on the one thing that will raise your productivity levels— self-integrity.
Self-Integrity Increase Productivity
If you don’t believe me, look at the research. After a year-long study, the Social Science Research Network concluded that you can increase your productivity (output) by 100% to 500% simply by focusing on integrity. Furthermore, they observed that the people studied could increase their output by 300% without additional input if they increased their level of integrity.
Of course, integrity with others helps you complete projects you’ve promised them. Thus, it lends itself to productivity.
And if you have self-integrity, you will be productive and complete your priority projects, too—especially if you promised yourself you would. Self-integrity keeps you to your word.
Decide to Become Self-Integral
So, how do you raise your level of self-integrity and productivity? Change your identity. Be someone who is self-integral.
Let me explain how you become a self-integral person.
If I decide right now to be self-integral, from this moment forward, I will do what I say I’m going to do—even if the only one who knows about the promise is me. After all, I am self-integral, and a self-integral person keeps their personal commitments. Therefore, I’ll do what I tell myself I’ll do in all areas of my life. That means I will consistently stick to my writing schedule. And I will do anything else I tell myself I’ll do.
“But I am who I am,” you say?
Yes…and…you can choose to change your identity in specific ways.
You can, for instance, decide to make a new agreement with yourself. As Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, suggests, “Be impeccable with your word.”
If you commit to this agreement and make being impeccable with your word a consistent practice, you always will do what you say you will do. After a while, being impeccable with your word will become habitual, and you will be a person who is impeccable with your word. You will have integrity and self-integrity.
At that point, your productivity will skyrocket. You will always do what you say you will do—for others and yourself.
Consider this: What would happen if you decided to be a writer? If your identity was “writer,” you would do what writers do. Write consistently.
Watch Your Productivity Skyrocket
Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
Decide right now to have self-integrity. Choose…and commit…to being someone who always keeps their promises to themselves. Then, watch how your productivity skyrockets.
After all, self-integral people always do what they say they will do. So, let’s say you promise to clean the house on Friday, give your book manuscript to an editor by Monday, turn in a project at work two days before the deadline, or get your bills paid today. You will do it…no matter what. You will focus your attention in the time you have and effectively approach the task at hand.
You’ll have no reasons or excuses not to keep your promises to yourself. And even if you’ve made a promise to someone else, your promise to yourself—to be self-integral—becomes the reason to follow through.
Being self-integral will make you highly productive every time—no matter the situation or the promise.
Have you found that self-integrity increases your productivity as a writer? Or do you struggle to be self-integral and productive? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with another writer.
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