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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

    Author, CEO, Consultant

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    Last Updated on October 20, 2020

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

    More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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