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Why You Shouldn’t Care About Other People’s Productivity

Why You Shouldn’t Care About Other People’s Productivity

“You won’t believe this…Jeremy actually got to inbox zero!”

If the above phrases don’t make you want to narrow your eyes, shoot a darting glare at someone and/or grit your teeth with jealousy, then you’re probably in denial. Because yes, your desire to increase your productivity can produce a nasty green-eyed monster called jealousy.

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It sure can be annoying hearing about yet another work colleague getting to inbox zero or collating 200 copies of a complex marketing presentation in 30 minutes – better, stronger and faster than the Six Million Dollar Man himself (cue a rousing chorus of booing and hissing). While you might seek solace in loving to hate people who are more productive than yourself, the truth of the matter is that you really shouldn’t care about other people’s productivity. And the best way to increase your own productivity is to ignore what everyone else is doing, and follow the only guide or measurement over which you have control: how you work.

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Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t care about other people’s productivity and what you can do to increase your own productivity:

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Why You Shouldn’t Care About Other People’s Productivity

  • You are you. You are not other people. You are not “them.” You decide and are responsible for how you want to make the most out of your energy and time.
  • You waste more time and effort chatting, talking, gossiping and scheming about other people’s productivity. All of that energy could have been used to help you become more productive and get more work done in a shorter amount of time. Instead of putting in extra hours at work, you could be at home or at the beach relaxing!
  • Talking about other people’s accomplishments diminishes your own accomplishments. You can compare yourself to other people until you are blue in the face, but what good will that do? You’ll belittle what you just accomplished, or what you could potentially accomplish in future.

What You Can Do to Increase Your Own Productivity

  • Give yourself a passion-filled reason to improve your productivity and get stuff done. We all have different reasons for becoming more productive. Why do you want to finish processing your email inbox at a reasonable hour at work? Do you want to get home to spend more time with your family, or to go through that giant stack of DVDs of The Wire you’ve been meaning to watch?
  • Know what slows you down when working. Do you take a long 15 minutes (maybe one hour?) checking Facebook or Pinterest? Do you procrastinate at work when it comes to filling out your travel expenses? Do you get bored and fidgety after staring at the computer for 30 minutes straight? You know more about your own work habits than you think.
  • Specify and target your own goals. Do you want to process invoices faster, or perhaps get that ton of paper filing done in 30 minutes? You can set your own target, do research for tips, ideas and hacks on how to become more productive, and reach your goal…at your own comfortable pace!

The next time you hear of another feat of office productivity prowess that makes you want to run off and scream in the office supply closet, think kind and good thoughts towards the Suzannes and Jeremys in your life.

Remember, the only person whose productivity you should be concerned about is yourself.

Choose your target and blow it out of the proverbial productivity water!

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Rashelle Isip

Blogger, Consultant, and Author

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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