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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 and Internet Entrepreneur

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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