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Productivity Karma: Be Good, Or Your Actions Will Come Back to Bite You

Productivity Karma: Be Good, Or Your Actions Will Come Back to Bite You

    Often when an individual decides to fix up that area of their life that has to do with getting things done, they make extensive changes to themselves; the way they act, the way the run their lives, the way they behave and communicate with others. And sometimes, the “productivity machine” — that is, the massive industry out there that promises to tell you how to solve all your problems with time and tasks — turns these people from happy, friendly people, into… well, I’m sure that kind of language is uncalled for here. Let’s just say selfish, hmm?

    Karma usually bites these people in the backside.

    This isn’t karma in some mystical sense. This is purely logical and practical. If you exhibit certain behaviors and patterns in your communications with others, you’re saying, “This is okay, this is fine. You can do this too.”

    And yet, people who are trying to get more done in less time make these mistakes, and usually (perhaps even hopefully?) end up paying the price. Make sure you’re not making them yourself, or we won’t feel sorry for you when the world comes crashing in on you with pitchforks and knives!

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    Don’t be brief to the point of rudeness when you’re trying to save time on email.

    If an email crosses your inbox that may be about a subject that the sender finds sensitive, then it can be pretty rude to reply in the curt and brief manner that most of us try to adopt. That’s not to say you’ve got to write a book to protect somebody’s oversensitivity, but it does mean you could throw in a simple, “Hope you’re doing well and know that I’m here to talk if you need it,” or whatever suits the situation, at the end.

    Of course, if you’re not here to talk, don’t say that. Be honest. But don’t be cruel.

    Your time is important, but it’s not more important than making someone’s day that much more bearable by investing a few more seconds into your communications.

    If you don’t want to be carbon copied on everything that goes on in your company, don’t carbon copy everybody else on irrelevant junk.

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    Some people — usually the ones who skip the wealth of material available on effective email communication — figure that by CCing everybody in the company on their emails, they’ll have to repeat themselves less and things will get done faster.

    As I mentioned earlier, “karma” kicks in when you teach people how to deal with you through your own actions. Guess what? Those few people who weren’t copying you on their messages have certainly begun, because evidently you like having a good barrage of crap in your inbox to start the day with.

    Good luck getting anything done now!

    Don’t put your productivity above others to the point where you create more work for them in your own attempt to ditch it.

    This point here is similar to the notion that you create patterns when you exhibit patterns by breaking the rules you would impose, but the difference is that this is more malicious.

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    Some of you might find it hard to believe, but more than a few people who have enjoyed the reduced burden and stress that occurs when you delegate a task to an employee, colleague or assistant (virtual or otherwise) decide they enjoy it so much they’ll create more work for others in their own attempt to ditch it. Not because it’s the other person’s job—but because they like the feeling of palming that task off and calling it “productivity.”

    If you do this, you suck. Plain and simple.

    I’m sure you’re starting to get the point.

    At the end of the day, it comes down to not piling other people up with work that isn’t their work just to save yourself some time, and following the same policies you ask of others when you’re communicating with them. That’s generally called “etiquette,” “manners,” and other various things my rather cynical soul says are rare in our society.

    I sum it up this way:

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    Don’t forget others on your road to productivity.

    Sometimes productivity advice leads people into this mindset that their own time is more important than other people’s time. That’s not to say you shouldn’t hold your time as sacred and fiercely defend it when it is preyed upon. You certainly should, because other people are the number two enemy of true productivity (the first being yourself, of course). But it’s too easy to forget that other people have work to do and lives to live and, in an effort to save yourself some time, cause a major inconvenience on someone else who has their plate full at work and a family to attend to (and even, perhaps, if they’re lucky, enjoy) when they get home.

    The constant pursuit of productivity can sometimes get so misguided that it brings us to a point of selfishness and malicious action. Ask yourself this when you feel you may be going down this path: why did I decide to improve this area of my life called productivity in the first place?

    In my experience, disregard for others in the pursuit of a goal is usually the result of losing sight of the motivations behind that goal. I don’t know exactly why this disconnect prompts this behavior in people, but it comes down to the means becoming more important than the ends. The ends are the motivation for the means, and the means is nothing more than a way of achieving that.

    It can go both ways, though. As that irritatingly cliched saying goes, the ends don’t justify the means.

    Be a good productivity geek this week. Earn yourself some positive productivity karma.

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

    How to Master the Art of Prioritization The Importance of Scheduling Downtime How to Make Decisions Under Pressure 11 Free Mind Mapping Applications & Web Services How to Use Parkinson’s Law to Your Advantage

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    Last Updated on October 15, 2019

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why we procrastinate after all

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    So, is procrastination bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How bad procrastination can be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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    8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

    Procrastination, a technical failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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