I know that I may sound like Captain Obvious here, but every one of us wants to be productive, right? It’s just the way the world of today is constructed. More and more stuff is required of us every day. More performance … More results … More income, and so on.
However, are you completely sure that you’re doing the most optimized set of things/activities to become the perfect version of your productive self? I’m not trying to sound smart and tell you that I know more about productivity than the next guy, but I do know this: Being overly confident about yourself is not the best approach to choose.
If you don’t believe me then just take a look at the following mistakes, be honest with yourself and admit how many of them are you guilty of making every day…
So you’ve thought multitasking is the secret of the most productive people on the planet? Well, it’s not. Multitasking is the slow killer of productivity.
And there’s actually nothing wrong with the idea itself. I mean, what could be more awesome than being able to get a number of tasks done at the same time, right? Unfortunately, this is an idea that looks good only on paper.
In practice, the way human brain is wired makes it impossible to do more than one task at a time. We’re simply like a one-processor computer unit. If we want to do more than one task, we have to pause the previous one for a second, and then switch to the new one. This task switching is fast enough to make an impression that we can really multitask, but such false thinking results in decreased performance pretty quickly.
If you want to get the most out of your work time then forget about multitasking. Focus on getting one task done from start to finish before moving to the next one.
Not doing high leverage activities
This one’s a bit more complicated, and it’s mainly about our professional lives rather than our personal affairs or house chores and such.
The thing is that no matter what we do, there’s always a set of tasks/activities that can bring us closer to our goals faster than anything else.
For instance, for a freelance writer, the highest leverage kind of task is actively searching for new clients. Contrary to the common belief that it’s writing – doing the actual job of a freelance writer.
That’s the trick with high leverage tasks … they can be counterintuitive, but they are the things that really matter.
I guess that your job now is to find what these high leverage tasks are for you. Just focus on your main professional goal and try to think of everything that can bring you closer to it. The thing on top of that list is most likely your highest leverage task.
Being afraid to fail
Failure is an integral part of every business, every hobby, every love story, every sports career. Actually, it’s an integral part of life itself.
The only problem is that despite this fact we are still afraid to fail at anything. Even if it’s just a very small failure. Quite frankly, this isn’t even our fault. It’s just the mindset we’ve learned from television, our coaches, friends, and parents.
The truth, however, is very different. Failure is actually the best thing that can happen to us. It’s failure that teaches us how to do things correctly the next time. It’s failure that forces us to be better. It’s failure that gives us experience we wouldn’t have gotten any other way.
My advice is simple: Embrace failure! Make it one of your sub-goals towards the main goal you’ve set for some project of yours. Remember, the only way you’re going to win is if you’re not afraid to lose.
Thinking you should be efficient
Efficiency is a very interesting concept in itself. For some reason, most people think that being efficient is what matters for their productivity, that it’s important to be able to do many things in short time…
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it isn’t, but there’s one piece of the puzzle missing. What’s actually important isn’t to be able to do much in short time, it’s to be able to do much of the important stuff in short time. In other words, what matters is being effective, not being efficient.
What’s the difference? Being efficient is simply being able to do something quickly. Being effective is a much more goal-centered condition. It’s about being able to get to your goal quickly.
Here’s a simple example. Being able to reply to 20 emails in 10 minutes is efficient. Deleting the emails and focusing on your high leverage tasks is effective.
Not having relaxation time
I don’t know why, but the belief that a working person simply doesn’t have time for relaxation is very common these days. Yes, there is much stuff to take care of every day, and the way most of our jobs are constructed forces us to spend more and more time every month doing it.
But the counterintuitive fact is that it is relaxation time that keeps us from going crazy, and it actually improves our productivity more than anything else.
Simply treat your brain like a battery. If you want to work at your full velocity, you simply need to recharge often. Something like every other hour…
I’m really not joking about this. Having a short break for relaxation every other hour is one of the best productivity tricks out there. Besides, you can simply try it out for yourself and see if it improves your overall productivity.
The most important element of your relaxation time is to create a habit. So instead of relaxing when you’re starting to feel tired, set fixed hours for relaxation. This way your body can adjust to such a schedule and allow you to reach better performance during your work time.
Do you suck at being productive?
Most of the time, productivity is a much simpler concept on paper than it is in real life, like most things, actually. However, as you can see by looking at the list above, there are some practices that seem right at first, but in reality they only kill our productivity (multitasking).
So the final advice I have for you is to always challenge yourself to think outside the box. Just because everyone is doing something, doesn’t mean that it’s good for your productivity, or any other area of your life.
What’s your take on this? Do you have any tricks of your own on how to be productive throughout the day?
Karol K. is a freelance blogger and writer. He’s passionate about productivity and the whole concept of improving your effectiveness over time. Feel free to visit him at YoungPrePro to get a nice set of writing productivity tips.