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12 Ways to Quickly Become Unproductive

12 Ways to Quickly Become Unproductive

You probably already tried everything you can to become more productive. Some things worked and some did not. Now it is time to try to be completely unproductive. It’s much simpler than you think! What are the guaranteed 12 ways to quickly become unproductive?

1. Keep everything in your head

Your brain counts the tasks like this: 1, 2, 3, 4, lots. If you don’t store information outside of your head in any visual form, you will quickly get lost. I once talked to a highly stressed person who stated she had “a lot to do”. When we wrote down this “a lot”, it turned out that she could perform most of the tasks within one evening! It is a great surprise to many when they write down their tasks, events, meetings and thoughts on a sheet of paper.

2. Keep everything equally important

Avoiding prioritization is a great handy hint for being completely unproductive. With every phone call, email, talk, task within multiple projects, or meeting request, you simply task switch and completely lose focus because you can’t decide. When you are aware of your priorities you can immediately postpone some things for later. And you really should!

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3. Use distractions

Another great way to become unproductive is to open Twitter, a few Facebook and Google+ tabs, your email account, put your phone in front of you, use Outlook desktop alert – any blinking thing you can think of and any other way of distracting you that is possible. You need several minutes to focus completely on your task, get into the “flow” and be really efficient, and this way you will be distracted every few seconds and you will never reach that state.

4. Get rid of emotions

Fun and emotions are what keep you engaged in an activity much longer than you think. You have greater energy, passion, and think more creatively. If you get rid of emotions from your activities, you simply have a boring list of tasks to accomplish. Just look what fun can bring to your life:

5. Use only one brain hemisphere

There is some great art coming out of the Mercedes Benz “Left Brain – Right Brain” advertising campaign, which (according to researchers) isn’t completely relevant, but shows a great truth: if you don’t use colors, sounds and everything is flat and black and white, it’s like you are using only half of your brain. If you don’t want to be unproductive, turn on colors in your email inbox, calendar and task list. Make it fun!

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6. Never say “no”

This is great way to become unproductive when used together with previous hints. With every email and request coming from your boss, colleagues and family, you simply say “yes” and take it on. This way you never know your limits, your task list is ever growing, you become unreliable, and put yourself into a victim mindset. The most surprising moment for many people is when they say “no” and it doesn’t break the relationship (as it shouldn’t!), in many cases they also find they become perceived as more reliable. Assertiveness is hard, but it is key.

7. Focus on your weaknesses

You know what is different about the people that excel from the rest? The greatest people focus on their strengths and they build on top of them. That gives them energy to fight their weaknesses. You simply can’t do the opposite. Think about Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods – they would get better and better at things they were already great at! If you want to be unproductive, focus on your weaknesses all the time, it will drain all your energy, put you in a bad mood and take your eyes away from your vision for your life.

8. Do everything yourself

So, you are the smartest person on the whole planet and you shouldn’t delegate anything because you do things best. Another great way to be completely unproductive! You can be really effective in doing some things, but not all. When you do things alone, you are losing the spirit of teamwork, great ideas, and different perspectives.

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9. Make things complex

Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Another great way to become unproductive is to make things more and more complex. Then build complex processes around those complex activities. Then spend hours trying to explain all that to others and handle misunderstandings. Beauty lies in simplicity. Think for a moment about the “I have a dream” speech delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr. It was so simple and powerful that it touched people’s hearts and spurred thousands of them to act.

10. Get rid of vision

Living and working without any vision is a great way to be completely unproductive. Vision is a fuel for your mind and body. Martin Luther King’s speech mentioned above put so much passion in people that many of them were willing to die fighting for this vision. Vision brings order to your activities, refreshes your emotions, reminds you about the real goals. Without it you can be just one more effective task executor.

11. Stop doing retrospectives

Experience without reflection on that experience is just data. A great way to be unproductive is to make the same errors over and over again. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” And Bill Gates said, “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” The most effective people do not rely purely on luck or coincidence. Every day and every week they reflect on past experiences and take conscious decisions to get closer to reaching their goals.

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12. Try multitasking

The final and the quickest way to be unproductive is to try to do two things at the same time. Some people say, “Multitasking is a great way to screw up multiple things at the same time,” and it is very true. We need to multitask in the same way as our old CPUs used to do it – a single CPU with single core was able to run a multitasking operating system, which performed very smoothly by just switching the tasks in the right way.  

Become unproductive summary

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    Piotr Nabielec

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    Last Updated on March 21, 2019

    11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

    11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

    Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

    You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

    But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

    To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

    It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

    “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

    The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

    In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

    Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

    1. Start Small

    The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

    Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

    Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

    Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

    Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

    Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

    It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

    Do less today to do more in a year.

    2. Stay Small

    There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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    But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

    If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

    When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

    I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

    Why?

    Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

    The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

    Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

    3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

    No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

    There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

    What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

    Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

    This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

    This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

    4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

    When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

    There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

    Peter Drucker said,

    “What you track is what you do.”

    So track it to do it — it really helps.

    But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

    5. Measure Once, Do Twice

    Peter Drucker also said,

    “What you measure is what you improve.”

    So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

    For reading, it’s 20 pages.
    For writing, it’s 500 words.
    For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
    For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

    Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

    6. All Days Make a Difference

    Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

    Will two? They won’t.

    Will three? They won’t.

    Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

    What happened? Which one made you fit?

    The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

    No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

    7. They Are Never Fully Automated

    Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

    But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

    What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

    It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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    The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

    It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

    It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

    8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

    Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

    Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

    When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

    The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

    Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

    9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

    The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

    Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

    You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

    But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

    So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

    If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

    This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

    The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

    Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

    10. Punish Yourself

    Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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    I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

    It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

    You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

    No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

    The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

    But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

    11. Reward Yourself

    When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

    Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

    The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

    After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

    If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

    Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

    If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

    In the End, It Matters

    What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

    When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

    And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

    “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

    Keep going.

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    More Resources to Help You Build Habits

    Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
    [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
    [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
    [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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