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6 Signs Your Lifehacks Aren’t Working

6 Signs Your Lifehacks Aren’t Working

Frustration

    Upping your productivity isn’t an exact science — and it isn’t something you can do overnight. Instead, you will probably need to try out a few things, see what works and throw out what isn’t working for you. Of course, to get rid of things that aren’t working, you have to recognize the warning signs before your productivity hacks turn into problems. Here is a spotter’s guide to a few of the problems I’ve run into, or heard about, when implementing new lifehacks.

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    1. The To Do List Shuffle

    Shuffling tasks from list to list, categorization to categorization or due date to due date, as well as making lists just for the sake of making lists, are hints that you aren’t actually getting anything more done than before you implemented lists into your life. I’ve been guilty of this myself: I’ll wind up spending all my time on organizing my tasks into some very nice lists, rather than, you know, actually completing my tasks. This issue is not something that you can simply tweak: it’s a willpower issue for most of us. The only cure seems to be focusing on completing tasks rather than rearranging our to do lists.

    2. The Energy / Inspiration Blues

    Have you started finding a bit more time in your schedule — but you also find that you’re too tired or uninspired to move on to your next project? Lack of motivation can be a crucial sign that something in your grand scheme just isn’t working, and you can’t fix it with a shot of caffeine. Part of being productive is having the energy and motivation to finish out the day’s schedule. Luckily, I’ve known many lifehackers to up their energy and inspiration with fairly minor tweaks to their overall system: changing diet, exercise or sleep schedule can have immediate effects — although simply making a little room in the day’s tasks for a few minutes of relaxation may be enough.

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    3. The New Time Sinkhole

    As we change our schedules and habits, we often pick up new ways of using our time — which aren’t always good. This warning sign often goes hand in hand with ‘The Energy / Inspiration Blues’: when we finish certain tasks, we don’t want to move on to others, for any number of reasons. Instead, we find other ways of filling our time. Some people work on perfecting their solitaire skills, others spend their days ‘networking’ on Facebook — there are thousands of ways to fill newfound hours, and it’s just going to take work to find a schedule that not only helps you to be productive but also prevents you from losing time to such sinkholes.

    4. The Worry Wart Wiggle

    Most lifehacks are intended to take worry out of our lives. So, if you find yourself still worrying day in and day out about small problems, your lifehacks are probably less than successful. A little worry is normal in the beginning, as you build confidence in your system (and yourself) but if you’ve got some long-term wiggling going on, you may need to focus on just why you aren’t so sure that your lifehacks won’t fail miserably. If you don’t have confidence in the way you do things, your current method just plain may not fit your lifestyle for some reason or another.

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    5. The Prioritizing Pickle

    In every facet of my life, I’ve struggled with prioritizing. Are certain parts of my shopping list more important than others? Will I get through the day if I don’t run all of my errands? What parts of a project does a client have to have, and which just sound like a good idea? Most productivity hacks focus on automating as many tasks in your life and prioritizing the rest. Important stuff is supposed to be the first done. But if you don’t have a clear way in which to decide just which stuff is ‘important,’ your system is standing on pretty shaky legs. If you keep finding yourself puzzling over just where in your queue a task belongs, it may be time to sit down and think about the implications for your productivity.

    6. The Feeling of Frustration

    If you find yourself feeling frustrated with any hack you try to make a part of your life, it’s okay to give up. Not every trick works for every person, and if any hack you try isn’t making your life easier, I have to recommend dumping it faster than expired milk. For each success story with a given method for increasing a person’s productivity, I can list off ten people who just couldn’t shoehorn that style into their lives — and that’s perfectly legitimate. Move on, and figure out what actually fits comfortably into your lifestyle.

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    These days, it feels like there are more hacks for every part of a person’s life than there are people. And, while options are great, some people seem to get feelings of inability if they can’t make each one work in their lives. When something doesn’t work, people tend to run into the above signs but try to persevere on through the problems. Warning signs show up for a reason, though. If you run into any of the above warning signs — or any other issues that give you pause in your productivity process — take a step back and figure out just what isn’t working for you. Remember, you have different needs from everyone else (including productivity gurus)!

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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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