A lot of us have got the wrong end of the stick when it comes to productivity. Productivity is getting the desired results with less time and effort. The problem here is that that’s not the way productivity is presented. It’s seen as early mornings and late nights. It’s seen as ticking off tasks off a massive to-do list. It’s seen as being busy all the time. Sound familiar? Well, here’s the plot twist – productivity isn’t about doing more, it’s about doing less.
Productive people have hacks that help them to work quicker, so that they have more time to spend on the things they love. At this juncture, it’s important to debunk the top 5 myths about productivity that are wasting your time, money, and energy, and show you what you should be doing instead.
When it comes to multitasking in our personal life, the truth is that we don’t really need to give 100% of our attention to the tasks. Some things will simply not get computed in our brain and other things won’t be remembered the next day. Nothing really is going to go to go wrong because of that divided attention. But it will with your work. You literally cannot give 100% of your attention to more than one thing at any given time. If you are attempting to multitask, then at least one other thing (depending on how many tasks you’re trying to get done at the same time) is going to suffer.
Try this instead: Batching is recommended here if you truly want to attempt to ‘multitask’. You still aren’t really multitasking, but when you group similar tasks together you can work on more than one thing at the same time. For instance, batch taking photos for your blog, researching lists of contacts, or emailing back clients.
2) Tackling the biggest item first
We like to think that if we get the biggest thing knocked out for the day then we will feel super-powered to go through the rest of our tasks. This is simply not true! First of all, the biggest task often requires the most energy and leaves us feeling exhausted and ready for a break once it’s done. Often, the biggest task most likely won’t actually get done in one day, so we then don’t end up getting anything else done.
Try this instead: Here, use the ‘snowball effect’. Knock out a bunch of tiny tasks right off the bat. If you start your day with eight things, and you’re able to knock off five of those at the very beginning, you’re going to feel empowered to keep going. Also, break down that ‘big task’ into smaller chunks if you haven’t already. Chances are you’re trying to tackle too many things at once. Then snowball those tinier tasks to see the real progress you’re desperate for.
3) Trying to power through
Whether you’re trying to power through lunch, a sick day, late night, or when your creativity has shut off, it sucks. It often leads to such mediocre results that you most likely end up redoing the work anyways. We tell ourselves that if we ‘just get one more thing done’, then we can stop. That always leads to ‘one more thing’ and then another ‘one more thing’ to get done. It never, ever ends.
Try this instead: Give yourself some grace by setting alarms for lunch and when you want to stop for the day. It can be hard when you’re working on your creative passions after your day job, but you need limits for that too. This helps you to carve out enough time to get yourself out of the zone for a bit and take notice of how long you’ve actually been working.
4) Being “busy”
The “I’m sooooooo busy” myth. Whilst there are busier seasons, to live in the constant state of being busy is not healthy for anybody. We tend to beat ourselves up when we don’t feel busy. Here’s a spoiler alert: the more organised and productive you are, the less you will feel “busy”, but the more you will actually be getting done. If you have free time in your schedule because you intentionally organise your day to get a lot done, that’s okay. Keep it free. Give yourself some space!
Try this instead: It may be time to see what a project management system can do for you. Such a system will help you set achievable deadlines that you can confidently work towards. If that’s not for you, then keep a log of your entire day, including the tasks you’ve achieved and how long it took you to do each one. This will give you an honest analysis of how you currently spend your time, so you can work towards improvement.
5) Learning without the action
The more you know, the more efficiently you’ll be able to do things. No matter where you are with your work, you’ll always feel like there’s something you need to learn that will make your life better. We’ve all fallen victim to course, webinar and e-book overload! Here’s the issue; if you’re buying, buying, buying, but not taking action, then you’re just wasting your time. We like to look at everything that’s out there as the solution to our current issue. We think that very next purchase will be the answer to our problems. It can only be the answer if we take time to apply it.
Try this instead: First, gut check yourself and ask if what’s being offered is in line with your end goals. Will it actually help you reach something that’s on your list or is it fluff? With every purchase you may make, make sure you have the intention to turn around and actually implement the things it taught you.
Productivity is a habit that requires commitment in order to develop it. The idea is that if you’re spending less time on tasks, then you can spend more time on other goals. The added benefit here being that the more you are able to accomplish with ease, the less stress and pressure you’ll feel overall. It’s a win-win. The saying that ‘if you want something done, give it to a busy person’ needs updating. If you want something done, give it to a productive person, because they’ll get it done in half the time without compromising on effectiveness.
Written by Bolu Bello