Productivity is big business these days, and people are jumping through hoops to find that magical system that is going to turn them into the productivity powerhouses that they think they need to be in order to handle their lives.
Well, not even touching on the fact that people are simply spending too much time working – hence the need for the productivity magic – let’s agree that an increase in productivity is something that many people can benefit from. That being the case, what happens when those attempts at legendary productivity get out of control?
The thing to realize when it comes to getting things done is that getting things done is the entire point of the exercise! Talking about it, writing about it, keeping records on it, etc., are all very effective ways to do one thing:
Waste the very time that you are supposed to be saving!
1) Overuse of Productivity Software
It doesn’t take the first hour or two of your day to ring all the bells and blow all the whistles on your ultra high-tech productivity software package. In fact, if you are using more than about 20 or 30 minutes of your day to just get ready for your day, that seems a bit counter-productive to me…
2) Talking about Your Goals too Much
Talk is cheap, and actions speak louder than words. Tell people about your goals? Absolutely! Get excited and passionate about your goals? Yep! Spend an inordinate amount of time talking about how great it is all going to be when you should be out there taking action? No.
3) Making a To-Do List
For some reason people seem to think that writing down a massive list of things to get done every day is a good idea, even though they know there is a very real chance that they won’t get it all done. Doing so simply reinforces a lack of confidence in our ability to get the job done, and we end up worse off than we were before. Instead of making a “to-do” list, make a prioritized list of things that you would like to get done. Keep it realistic, and don’t move on to the second thing on your list until the first one is complete.
4) Doggedly Sticking to Your Plan
Here’s a shocker: Your life is not always going to go according to plan! When things end up unfolding in an unexpected way, you can either:
- Panic and accomplish very little (if not actually making the situation worse), or
- You can roll with the punches and find a way to get things done in spite of the unexpected circumstances.
One of those choices equals productivity, one of them equals frustration and stress.
5) Always Looking for a Better Way
How does that old saying go? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Just because some high-powered author, speaker, or productivity guru got you all jacked up about some new-fangled system of super-charging your life, you are under absolutely no obligation to actually use it. If your present system works, then keep it! Change is not always necessary.
6) Getting Too Much Sleep
According to pretty much anybody that you ask, getting at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep is recommended. Well, you know what? Not everyone needs 7 or 8 hours of sleep! You’ve been living with your body for how long now? You should know by now how much sleep you need to get in order to function at peak capacity. Get that much sleep, and do something else with the rest of those hours; it doesn’t matter what the so-called “experts” say.
7) Following Practices that You Really don’t Believe In
Just because Suzi’s brother knew a girl whose nephew had a friend with a sister that was married to a guy whose cousin knew a Zen Monk who swore by 4 hours of meditation per day does not mean that YOU should be doing it! Embrace productivity practices that resonate with you personally, and drop the rest.
8) Avoiding Email and Necessary Contacts
Anyone who has read the book The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris is jumping for joy because apparently it is okay for them to drastically limit their exposure to email or to other time-draining conversations with other people. Here’s a newsflash: If you have an Internet-based business, or your customers are very Internet-savvy, you are going to need to read your email frequently. Notice the word “frequent” and not the word “constant”. It’s a critical distinction, and a line that you may need to learn to walk.
9) Constantly Questioning Why
Many people – myself included – will tell you to take nothing at face value, and to question the very foundations of your existence, not to mention questioning the rules of society. However, that being said, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every single day. Some systems are in place for a reason, and some are a complete waste of time. Question the irrelevant or inappropriate systems, but don’t waste time undermining the stability of systems or philosophies that actually work.
10) Excessive Delegation of Responsibility
This is another one that you 4-Hour Workweek fans will recognize – delegating responsibility to other people in order to free up your time. It’s a superb idea, and I back up Tim Ferris 100% on the concept. However, don’t lose sight of the fact that your role in your company, your business, your home, etc., IS your role, at least right now. If you’re not careful, you could delegate yourself right out of being an important part of your own lifestyle!