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The 3 Most Controversial Tips On Personal Productivity

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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.

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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 October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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