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The 3 Most Controversial Tips On Personal Productivity

The 3 Most Controversial Tips On Personal Productivity

Imagine going through life working hard on everything that you are required to do, but by the end of the day, besides losing up your energy, time and spending your life checking off tasks on your to-do list, you have no significant results to show. How would you feel?

This is what is happening to most people out there. They seem to have an endless list of tasks to do. However, after putting in hours of effort and hard work for months, they have nothing to show for. They work hard but they are not producing the results that they want. Does this describe you?

If this sounds familiar or is happening to you, you are doing something wrong, and you need a wake-up call right now. Below are the 3 most controversial ideas you have learned about productivity and thought that they can make you less effective. You may not be aware of their truth yet until you discover it here.

1. Working Hard Can Increase Your Chances Of Failing

Yes, you read it right. If you are not doing right, working hard can increase your chances of failing. A lot of people get it wrong and thought that if they want to accomplish more and be more productive, they need to work harder. Well, not necessarily. Allow me to explain.

Most people are so pumped up when they read something inspiring or when they first get started. They are so motivated that they take massive action to produce the outcome they want. The problem is that results don’t come fast. Success is not something that you can achieve in just days or weeks. Rome was not built in a day.

So guess what happens. They poured in a lot of effort but they are not seeing any result. At this point, most people will feel dejected and start to lose faith. They lose hope and more importantly, they lose their confidence.

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As a result, they start to doubt themselves or if what they are doing is working, soon they will get distracted by the “next big thing” or another “shiny object” and then jump ship. They switch from one project to another. They build website after website, but none of them is working or is making any money.

You have to understand that success takes time. It is a journey, not a destination. You are running a marathon here, not a 100m sprint. You can take massive action if you are working on something short-term, but if you are running a marathon, a sprint is not going to work.

Unfortunately, this is where most people make the mistake. They treat success as a short-term goal, and whenever they don’t get the result they want, they started to doubt themselves, lose hope and eventually they quit. Thus, instead of working hard, choose to work consistently. If you want to lose weight, it is better to hit the gym for an hour a day for a month than to hit the gym for 30 hours straight in one session.

How do you read a 500-page book? Do you try to read it in one sitting within 24 hours without sleep or do you read 50 pages a day? When you try to do something too much, you will suffer burnout, and that will kill your productivity. Therefore, choose work consistently from now on. Everything takes time, and you just cannot force the results to come. What we do each day is more important than what we do once in a while.

Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Hence, make sure what you do is sustainable. Don’t choose to do something that you cannot sustain. Working out in the gym for 10 hours a day is not going to be sustainable for most people. Writing 10,000 words content for your blog each day is not going to work over the long-term.

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So do something sustainable and something that you can do consistently. The power is in the consistency, not a rush of hard work that fades after a few days.

2. Multitasking Is Not The Solution

How often do you try to multitask and do a few things simultaneously? Research has shown that we cannot multitask. When we multitask, what our brain is trying to do is that it will try to switch back and forth from one task to another.

If you don’t believe this, try to talk to someone while reading a book. You simply cannot do it. When you concentrate and put your focus into your conversation, your brain will process the conversation and ignore the words in the book. On the other hand, when you concentrate on reading, you cannot fully process the conversation you are in. You will have to pause on one task to jump into another.

Why do you think we are not allowed to use our phones when we are driving? Multitasking is not going to work for us. It is the same when it comes to goal setting. I have seen many people set many goals in one go. There is nothing wrong with having many goals, but when it comes to putting in the effort to achieve them, that’s where the problem occurs.

It is always better to have one completed project than to have five incomplete projects at hand. When you try to chase two rabbits at the same time, you will end up catching none. So from today onward, try to focus on doing your work. Choose to work on only one goal at a time.

Imagine if your goal is to work hard to grow your business and at the same time, you want to spend more time with your family, so which comes first? You need to prioritize and make the decision to go for the most important goal. You have to list down all your goals in front of you, and then ask yourself what is the most important goal that will make the most positive impact on your life if you achieve it.

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Concentrate on doing one thing at a time. Use time-blocking techniques to stay focused. For example, you can time-block from 9am to 11am to do your most important task. And during these two hours, you will devote yourself to do nothing else except for working on the task. You will never do other things or allow others to distract you. This is a very powerful and effective method to getting things done.

Do you know how the swimmer who won a total of 28 medals in the Olympics, Michael Phelps, goes through his day? His life during training is nothing more than eating, swimming, and sleeping. He is in the water training and swimming most of the time. Phelps put in all his energy and focuses on just one goal and doing only one thing; to keep swimming and improving.

Thus, if you want to produce remarkable results, you have to do the same by focusing your energy and effort on just one thing at a time. What is the one goal that you want to achieve? What is the one task that will help you accomplish your goal? Stop multitasking and start focusing on what you want. You will feel more productive and get more done when you focus.

3. Don’t Focus Too Much On The Results Or The Goals

This is another common productivity mistake people make. They thought that all they need to do is to keep an eye on the rewards or their goals so that they can stay motivated and productive all the time.

I’m not saying that you should forget about your goals or the results. What is more important here is to focus on the progress, not result. This is because when you focus on the progress, you are focusing on taking action. Imagine if you are a blogger like me and your goal is to build an email list of 1,000 subscribers in a month. How would you feel if you did not reach your target after a month? Do you feel down and frustrated? Of course, you would.

In fact, you don’t have to wait for a month to see the effect. The negative effect will kick in just a few days after you have taken action but get no result. Most people will feel like a failure when they don’t reach their goals or not getting the outcomes they want. This explains why people lose motivation along on their journey to success.

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Let me give you a clearer example. If you want to build a blog with 1,000 average visitors a day, all you need to do is to focus on creating valuable content and marketing the content. For instance, you focus on publishing three articles to your blog each week and submit guest articles every day. When this goes on from day to day, week to week, and then month to month, your blog will grow, and the visitors will come.

The traffic will come because you are putting in the work, consistently. You are taking consistent action each day. And the best part is that because you have shifted your focus onto the progress instead of the outcome, you feel great and victorious when you successfully hit the publish button on your blog to publish another new content. Whenever you are moving forward and making progress, you feel good, and you know you are on your way there.

On the other hand, if you choose to focus on the goal, which is to drive 1,000 visitors per day, there’s nowhere you can put your focus on. The goal itself is not something that you can perform or something that is actionable. When you choose to focus on the goals or the results, there’s nothing much you can do. What produces the results are your actions. Remember, it is your action that will make your goals come true.

So stop putting in too much effort into chasing the result, the outcome or the reward. Instead, build the right habits that will put you into the action progress. When you have built up the habit of working on your goals, you will never fail to achieve them. Remember, the most important key to getting result is to develop the habit of taking action. When you have made taking action your habit and part of your life, you can accomplish whatever goals you set.

Here is what you can do. Set a progress for your goal and focus on the progress. Do understand that the best weightlifters are in the gym every day at the same time. And the best writers sit on their table to write every day. The same applies to all the best performers in all industries. Focus on the progress and put your mind on doing the action, not on achieving X target by a certain time frame.

Conclusion

So choose to work consistently rather than working hard. Do not multitask, and more importantly, focus on the progress, not the result. These are the 3 controversial tips on productivity, if you like what you have read, remember to share this article.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay.com via pixabay.com

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Shawn Lim

Blogger, Entrepreneur, and Motivation Expert

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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