Self-help gurus, blogs, life coaches, youtube channels etc., are all chasing productivity, but are we losing our focus in doing so? Are we falling more in love with the idea of productivity rather productivity itself? Are we chasing productivity myths and not the real issue at hand?
Somewhere along the way, we may be getting confused about what achieving productivity truly means.
Here are a few things we do in the name of being more productive, which are actually killing our productivity:
1. Multitasking to become more productive
Well, if in given time, you can get 2-3 tasks done simultaneously then you must be the master of productivity, right? Wrong.
Multi-tasking more often than not proves to be disastrous. If you want to multi-task on your not-so-important household chores, then, by all means, go ahead. But stay away from multitasking for important tasks and assignments.
It forces you to divide your attention and thoughts between 2 or more tasks, which leads to you only giving a fraction of your potential to each task.
Additionally, even if you are able to successfully divide your attention and focus on tasks, logically you are no more productive than when you are doing one task after another, because when multitasking switching between tasks takes extra time.
Did you know that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task after a distraction? That is quite a lot of time lost, ain’t it?!
2. Thinking that long hours implies more work done
Let’s admit it, how many times did you assume that a person who is staying longer at office is getting more work done than you? How many times did you work extra hours hoping to accomplish more? Chances are many times.
But get this, according to the Parkinson’s law, work usually expands to fill the time available for its completion. So snap out of the idea that if you are staying longer you are getting more done; chances are, you are getting just as much done as the other guy who doesn’t work for more than 7 hours a day, or maybe slightly more.
Overworking yourself is neither a sign of productivity nor a badge of accomplishment. All it does is affect your work-life balance and probably your health and well-being as well.
3. Thinking that you work better under pressure
I have had many professionals explain this productivity technique to me quite often – put off your work till the 11th hour to bring out your most productive self; back in the day, I would have agreed with them, but now, after a lot of experience and understanding I totally advise against it.
Sure, you are right, you become more productive under pressure, but the negative effects it brings are just not worth it. Here are a few:
- When under pressure your body experiences a significant amount of stress levels; if you make a habit out of working under pressure, then chances are your health is getting affected.
- In companies, you often work with teams and putting things until the last minute may work for you, but it may not for your team. You may come to be seen as an unreliable and erratic leader.
- More often than not, we handle pressure well, but sometimes, too much pressure can paralyze your thinking and you won’t make good decisions. The more often you take up pressure, the higher the chances are for you to face a situation like that.
4. Underestimating the importance of breaks
Encourage yourself to take breaks at regular intervals. Breaks can not only be stress relieving but they can also physically and mentally recharge you for the next task.
Don’t stay under the false assumption that taking breaks is a sign of bad work ethic or inefficiency. It isn’t!
In fact, in my company Hiver, I insist that all of my employees follow the Pomodoro work technique. In this technique, you work for 25 minutes and take a 5 min break to stretch and relax. After 4 such cycles, you will get to take one long break.
You could also follow the break schedule suggested by Fast Company in one of its reports – 52 minutes of work followed by 17 mins breaks is a good way to optimize your productivity.
5. Remote working is a productivity killer
Wrong! This may have been true a while back when there wasn’t as much technology or connectivity among people.
Back then, if we had a question about a task we had to either ring up the person and get it explained on phone (which can be hard) or wait till the next day.
Not the case anymore, if you have to explain something to a person working remotely, you can share your desktop with them and explain, for example.
You can track each other’s progress without having to call them every single time, using collaboration tools.
Bottom line is – with the kind of technology tools and apps that we have, I would say people are just as productive if not more when working remotely as they are when working in an office.
6. Being busy is the same as being productive
So all day, you keep working on something or the other – you don’t even have a minute for yourself. Must you be a super-productive person right? Not necessarily.
Many of us get confused with being busy as being productive. You may have spent all your day on unnecessary, low priority tasks, or you may have spent 4 hours on a task worth one hour.
True, maybe you are dedicating all your time to work, but that doesn’t mean you are being efficient.
“Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.” – Denis Waitley