Advertising
Advertising

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!

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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:

    Advertising

    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.

    More by this author

    Joel Falconer

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

    Mastering 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

    Trending in Featured

    1 Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide) 2 How To Start a Conversation with Anyone 3 Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context 4 How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic Throughout the Day 5 5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    Advertising

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    Advertising

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Advertising

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    Advertising

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

    Read Next