When was the last time you wanted to be unproductive? Chances are you never go into your day asking yourself, “How can I be as unproductive as possible?”
We strive to be productive and enlist certain habits and principles to guide us. However, some of the activities people do each day that they think are productive are actually unproductive.
The problem with productivity is that there is conflicting advice about what actions should be taken to bring forth a more productive you. Conflicting advice brings forth confusion, and ultimately, misconceptions.
We praise certain methods of doing work that actually hurt our productivity. Here are the most surprising methods that, although we often praise them, are the main culprits to being less productive.
#1: Being Available 24/7
Corporations have popularized the ability to be available 24/7. Whether you are calling your customers or responding to their questions, the belief is that you should be available 24/7.
However, if you are available for your customers 24/7, then you are not available for yourself 24/7. You won’t have as much time to create products, grow your social media audience, and do anything of the like.
I don’t answer my emails the moment I get them. Sometimes, it can take me several days for me to respond. I focus on writing my blog posts or doing videos for an upcoming product.
After all of that work is done and I want to take a break, I will then respond to the emails within my inbox.
I used to make it a policy to respond to emails less than 24 hours after they were sent. The amount of time I would spend responding to emails would cut into a majority of the time that I could have spent writing blog posts and creating products.
Being available 24/7 is a myth. The only reason corporations are able to pull it off is because they hire several employees to respond to emails and take phone calls.
If you call Apple Support right now, Tim Cook is not going to pick up the phone.
If you want to be available 24/7, then you need to hire several freelancers who you can trust. That way, you can focus more of your time towards productive activities.
#2: Multitask To Get More Done At Once
In our busy world, we are constantly looking for ways to feed two birds with one scone. Some of us are trying to use that one scone to feed three birds.
The result of our efforts is multitasking. The idea behind multitasking is that you get two things done at the same thing instead of doing them one at a time.
Behind our made-up definition of multitasking lies the real definition. Multitasking is simply the act of doing two things at the same time in a less efficient manner than if you were to approach one task at a time.
I can run and read a book at the same time. I might run really slow, not absorb any of the content, or crash into a lamppost. I can run and read at the same time, but I wouldn’t get much out of the run or the book.
Are you running and reading the same time with your business? Are you trying to write a blog post and schedule your tweets at the same time? Are you listening to music on your smartphone while trying to listen to a tutorial on your computer?
Multitasking in its most basic form is a productivity myth. The only thing multitasking does is makes you less productive. It can even kill your brain.
#3: Work Hard
If Person A worked for five hours today and Person B worked for three hours today, who worked longer. The answer to that one is Person A.
But who was more productive? Answering this questions requires that we explore each person’s work ethic and the work that was actually done.
An interesting thing I have noticed about my productivity is that as my time diminishes, I become more productive. When I have less time to spend on my business, that’s when I become very productive.
I am more productive when I work for 2-3 hours than some people are when they work for over eight hours every day. How does that happen? It’s based on a few factors.
The main factor is how you are working. There is a major distinction between working hard and working smart. You can work hard but not get anywhere. Working smart ensures that you are to make some type of progress each day.
Working smart is simply asking yourself which path is the right path for me, how can I get there faster, and where do I sign up to get started.
Once you work like that, you will be more productive than most of the people who simply work hard.
Another big factor is how much of the work you actually do. Most of my work time is exclusively spent writing blog posts or creating new videos. Those are my top priorities.
But what about everything else I do. What about scheduling over 100 tweets per day, growing my audience, creating slides, video editing and all of that fun stuff.
Outsourced to the last drop.
On a good weekday, I’ll put in three hours of work towards my business. However, I have freelancers who put in at least three hours of work for me every day.
By outsourcing several parts of your business, it is possible for work to be put towards your business for over 24 hours per day without you doing any of that work.
The big dream many entrepreneurs have is their businesses functioning on autopilot. The only way your business will ever function on autopilot is if you outsource the work to other people.
Might as well get started now. That way, you’ll work smarter and actually be more productive.
#4: Use A Productivity App*
If there is one method of productivity that receives a lot of praise, Productivity Apps are it. Under certain circumstances, Productivity Apps CAN make you more productive.
However, there is a danger with using productivity apps.
The danger is that you must use them on a device. More specifically, you must use the Productivity App on a device with millions of other options.
If you use a Productivity App on an iPhone, all you have to do is click on the menu button. Suddenly, the Productivity App disappears and you see all of your other apps.
Maybe the Angry Birds app distracts you. Maybe the ABC News app does the trick. Maybe it’s Safari. The moment you get out of that Productivity App for the slightest second, you are exposed to numerous distractions. And this is true regardless of which device you use.
What’s hot on YouTube? What’s trending on Twitter? Maybe, just maybe this time I’ll beat my high score in Flappy Bird.
Some Productivity Apps in their design are brilliant. But the nature of devices and the way we use those devices can sometimes undermine the power of Productivity Apps.
If you can find a Productivity App that locks your device into that one app for a certain amount of time, then that Productivity App will work. The apps themselves are not bad.
But since I don’t trust myself to not browse around on a device, I use a notebook to stay more productive. I write all of my goals with pen and paper. I use real sticky notes instead of the digital ones.
What I have observed with goal setting is this: There is truly a more potent feeling when you write a goal versus when you type it on your computer.
Typing produces the same font that anyone else can produce with a keyboard. Writing the goals on paper is like writing your own signature. Only you get to do that.
Plus, your notebook will never crash. If your device crashes, or the Productivity App isn’t functioning correctly, then you are going to lose valuable time.
Even if you find a Productivity App that keeps you locked in, never handicap your productivity to that one app alone. Sometimes the old ways work the best.
#5: Commit Yourself To Accomplishing Everything On Your Workload
For some people, accomplishing everything on their workload would be productive. Most people who find themselves committed to this goal could be more productive.
The simple reason is what the workload entails. Is the workload easy or is it challenging? What types of results would you get from accomplishing the work? Would you be better off, or does the workload consist of “Get-By” Work?
This misconception strongly applies to all of the lone-wolves who believe it is possible to be a successful solopreneur.
Just because all of the work you do is important for your business doesn’t mean you should be doing all of that work.
There are certain tasks within your workload that can easily be delegated to other people. Thus, the idea of outsourcing resurfaces. Think about all of the things you do and then ask yourself if any of those tasks could be given to someone else.
Then think about what all of that extra time would get you.
Outsourcing is the only reason I am able to create courses on Udemy. It’s also the only reason I am still able to write three blog posts every week.
The truth is I was considering going down to only writing two blog posts per week so I could focus more of my time towards Udemy. Outsourcing changed that. What can outsourcing parts of your business change for you?
We all want to be productive. There’s no question about that. The confusion begins when we ask ourselves which methods of boosting productivity will actually boost our productivity.
Multitasking for instance does not work. Speaking of work, it is possible to be more productive than the person who puts in more hours than you.
In the end, the methods that work best for your productivity are the ones that you must be guided by. Certain methods work for me that don’t work as well for others and vice-versa.
However, these five methods need to be thrown out of your way of thinking because there are more efficient tactics out there.
Outsourcing alone will transform your productivity and what you achieve. And there are plenty of other ways to boost your productivity as well.
What are your thoughts about this list? Which one of these methods came to you as the biggest surprise? Do you know of any other surprising methods that would decrease productivity? Sound off in the comments section below.