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9 Habits you Always Thought Were Productive but Aren’t

9 Habits you Always Thought Were Productive but Aren’t

In this fast-paced world, we are prone to a seemingly endless number of possibilities and therefore we can become overwhelmed extremely quickly. The problem with this is that there are so many things out there for us to try we might never find the method that works best for us.

But rest assured, there are many ways that you can increase productivity in your life without having to make any major changes.

Many techniques are thought to aid in productivity, but the truth is that it is hindering us from achieving our full potential. Below, I have listed 9 habits you always thought were productive but, in fact, aren’t. You might be surprised.

1. Scheduling Everything

schedule

    There is a difference between going after your goal without giving up, and being so inflexible and unwilling to change your plans that you never try anything new. When we have a goal in mind, we should be conscious of the fact that if we lay out exactly how we want something to be enacted, that leaves no room for expansion.

    There is no room for expansion because the predetermined plan has already been crafted. This can serve as good in some cases, but for the most part, it will ultimately hold us back from ever reaching our true productivity potential.

    2. Multitasking

    multitasking

      Multitasking is one of the most common things we all do in our daily lives. The problem with Multitasking is that it sounds good on paper, getting several things completed at once, but it’s not really practical.

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      We don’t fully get to focus on one specific thing while multitasking. There are so many thoughts floating around in our head and we want to act on them all, at once! But we are met with fierce anxiety and stress as the tasks don’t seem to get done, even though we had such good intentions before we started.

      The problem also lies in trying to set too many goals that leads us to multitask. There is so much to do and such little time to do it. How will I ever get anything done?

      I have thought that to myself hundreds of times, but the problem wasn’t an issue with time, it was an issue with the personal goals that I had set for myself. Focus on one specific goal and figure out how you want to reach that goal. Anything other than this will backfire in terms of reduced productivity.

      If you set too many, you will quickly see that you become overwhelmed very easily. It’s easy to venture off in search of one thing and to come back with another. Instead, try identifying what message you want to send to yourself or others. Then, focus on that specific goal. Move on to other goals later.

      3. Doing The Stuff you are Already Good at Again and Again

      Each of us has our own set of skills and talents. Our strengths are something that we should focus on. But even if we are good at something, we should not continue doing it if it is not promoting our personal growth.

      Diversifying always enhances productivity. This is because if you focus on only one skill and make mistakes or do not keep up with the latest updates on such field, your whole work will be affected. Having differnet skills prevents you from having a single point of failure.

      Not only that, but expanding your skills also enhances productivity through potential crossed knowledge within a project where different skills come into action.

      When a task becomes so easy you don’t even have to think about it, then you know you should either do something different or look for ways to improve upon it. We should never stop growing, no matter what!

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      4. Being Too Concrete with your Goals

      concrete

        Concrete is something that is so hard it’s impenetrable by some of the strongest forces. When you have concrete goals, no other idea can enter through your unbreakable belief system. Your goals become so fixated that you lose sight of all other possibilities.

        Goals are something that we should all have, because they give purpose and meaning to our lives.

        When you set a goal, it isn’t always going to work out as smoothly as you want. Some goals are more flexible than others, but some require you to take smaller action steps that you might dread. Procrastination then sets in, and you end up not accomplishing the initial task. Setting a goal is a good thing to do, but be careful. If you become too locked into obtaining a goal, you might miss out on other opportunities that may help you on boosting your overall productivity.

        5. Paying Too Much Attention to Detail

        When we set out in pursuit of a goal, we often become so entangled in the small details that we forget to look at the big picture . When we are paying too close attention to the details, when we make decisions, these decisions can result in a particular outcome not in alignment with your original goal, and therefore results in you wasting your time and compromising your productivity.

        You begin focusing on the wrong things and before you know it, you’re back to square one. There is a fine line between figuring out what we should focus on and what we shouldn’t. But we must consider the possibilities of how something can turn out in the grand scheme of things. Looking at things from a small-minded viewpoint can plague our ability for expansion and growth.

        6. Aiming for Perfection

        progress

          Progress and perfection have never gone hand in hand. While perfection in essence does not exist, it is true is that very efficient processes can be achieved, but never brought about by  careful planning and thoughtful consideration but from testing, trial and error and customer feedback.

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          The outcome cannot always be foreseen, and therefore experimenting with your new ventures and ideas is essential in terms of productivity, efficiency and success

          7. Saying “Yes” to Everything

          You are a dependable person, so does that mean you should always say “yes” when someone asks a favor of you? Of course not!

          As much as we would love to help others out in their time of need, we have our own busy lives to worry about. Learn to say “No” and become a bit more selfish. You must first focus on what is going to increase your own productivity, rather than taking up crazy amounts of workload or commitments. “Yes” is a word that people like to hear. But if you say “yes” to people too often, then they will become dependent upon your consensus.

          You will become known as the “yes” guy that will do anything for anybody. By doing this, you are falling short of being productive in your own goals and assignments.

          8. Working Hard, Hard, Hard

          At first thought, it would seem like a good idea to start something and not stop until we finish it. But have you ever had to type a paper for school or work and you waited till the last minute to start it? Scrambling around, you try to whip up a ten page paper in only a few short hours.

          This, as you have probably guessed, is not a good method to use because our attention span only lasts for an extended period of time. After that we lose focus and creativity.

          The longer we sit there, the more constricted our creativity muscle becomes.

          Focusing on one thing for too long will cause you to retain less information and make fewer connections in the brain, and therefore affecting your productivity, and the final product will become of lower quality, less innovative, and due to the long hours worked on it, more expensive.

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          9. Being up to Date with Everything

          uptodate

            Information overload is one of the biggest problems we have in today’s digital world. It’s so easy to start searching for one thing and within an hour you have navigated to a website completely irrelevant to the initial topic you were focused on.

            It might seem like you are learning a lot by taking in more information, but when you consume too much too fast, you end up not retaining much information at all.

            I always feel the need to want to learn everything, but I have to remind myself that I can come back to that information later. Focus on the necessary information you need, make a mental note about the information you stumbled upon, then come back to it later.

            Focus on your current goal, there is not that much information to be swallowed in order to increase your productivity.

            Keep your mind focused on the task at hand if you wish to stay productive. In order for you to reach your full potential, minimize the distractions and cut the unproductive habits out of your life. The important thing to keep in mind is that we all have our strengths and weaknesses. If we wish to truly shine, we must be willing to focus our attention on the appropriate things necessary to complete our tasks in the timeliest manner possible.

            Being productive is just like anything else we do in life, meaning that it will take practice in order to perfect. If you follow the tips outlined in this article, you will be well on your way to the path of success.

            Featured photo credit: http://blog.proofhq.com via blog.proofhq.com

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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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