Being productive in today’s world is incredibly tough. With phones and computers constantly informing you of incoming emails, three different bosses breathing down your neck, and the pressure of knowing one wrong move could leave you standing in the unemployment line, it’s almost impossible to get any work done. You’ve probably read some advice columns on the web about how to increase your productivity, only to become more bogged down than you were before. The simple fact is that there’s not one single way to be productive. Depending on a person’s personality and situation, even the most counterintuitive methods could actually enhance their productivity. Here are the eight most controversial productivity tips that actually work!
See Also: The Productivity of Doing Nothing at All
1. Embrace Fear
Brené Brown once gave a TED Talk called “The Power of Vulnerability”. Throughout her presentation, she talks about the fear and anxiety she had leading up to giving the speech, as well as the discomfort she was feeling while actually giving it. But her main message was that she was able to separate her fear from her abilities. She did not let her hesitation get the best of her. She knew her vulnerability would not detract from her ability to perform to her highest potential.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is difficult; there’s no doubt about that. But the more you do it, the easier it’ll be. Facing your fears is perhaps the best way to overcome them. First of all, you’ll desensitize yourself to whatever had been holding you back. Second of all, you’ll realize that the old adage is true: What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.
I can hear you now: “How in the world can putting things off make me more productive?” Well, I didn’t say you should put everything off and just lay around. But if you have a laundry list of errands or tasks to accomplish, you might want to put off the most demanding task until you’ve completed everything else. Once you get the little things out of the way, you’ll be able to focus solely on getting the big things done.
On the other hand, if you try to tackle the major tasks on your list first, you most likely won’t be able to focus your full attention on the task at hand, knowing you have a bunch of running around to do even after you finish this big job. Get the mindless, little things done first so you can mentally prepare yourself for the more monumental tasks later.
3. Don't Praise Your Talents
It’s all well and good that you’re naturally talented in a given area. But you didn’t really earn that talent, did you? Instead, focus on the effort you put into your accomplishments, especially in areas in which you’re not naturally successful. Admire your perseverance, not your performance; your dedication, not your completed project. By focusing on the process undertaken rather than the outcome of the process, you’ll reinforce the notion that productivity comes from your mindset, not from your God-given abilities.
4. Work Less
We’ve all heard the saying “Work smarter, not harder”. But we’ve also been told we shouldn’t cut corners when working on projects. So, which is it?
Well, I don’t want to advocate that you put less than your best effort toward a given assignment, but if you have an easier way to do something that results in the same product, by all means go for it. Technology has made so many menial tasks an absolute cinch. As long as you double-check everything to make sure your computer didn’t glitch out on you, there’s no sense in doing things the old-fashioned way.
You should also worry less about the time it takes you to complete something and more about the energy you spend completing it. Instead of telling yourself “I’ll work on this project until 4:30”, you should work on it until you realize your energy is fading. If it happens at 4:15, there’s no sense in pushing yourself to 4:30 and wasting 15 minutes of working at less than maximum capacity. If it happens at 5:00, well, you harnessed your energy and got an extra half hour of work done that won’t need to be done tomorrow!
5. Say "No"
Unless the question is “Do you want to go to happy hour?”
But seriously, in today’s world, we tend to take on too much because we’re afraid if we don’t we’ll look like an underachiever. But the reality is if you end up saying “yes” every time a boss or colleague asks you for a favor, not only are you going to burn yourself out, but you’re also going to get taken advantage of. Furthermore, if you stretch yourself too thin, you most certainly won’t end up doing your best work on every project you’ve been tasked with. The less you have on your plate, the more energy you’ll be able to focus on completing each task in front of you.
6. Stay Connected
Usually, “productivity hack” articles will tell you to stay off the Internet if you want to get things done. But by completely shutting off the outside world, you miss a ton of opportunities to advance yourself and actually be more productive. I’m not saying you should have your Facebook and Twitter feeds open in different tabs behind an Excel spreadsheet – that’ll most certainly detract from your productivity – but there’s nothing wrong with hopping on Twitter to see if your colleague can help you out with a quick task, or keeping your email account minimized in case the associate you’ve been waiting to hear from has the time to get back to you. As long as you don’t waste all your time scrolling mindlessly through Instagram, there’s nothing really wrong with staying connected to social media at work.
7. Don't Visualize Your Goals
That old saying “Keep your eyes on the prize” ends up being a bunch of hooey. Ironically, visualizing your goals actually makes you less likely to achieve them, according to this Forbes article. By imagining yourself attaining a certain goal, you unintentionally trick your mind into thinking you’ve already accomplished it. Of course, if your brain thinks you’ve already reached your goal, your motivational switch is going to get turned off.
On the other hand, if you keep your goals in your mind, they remain intangible visions that have yet to become reality. You can keep striving for them, knowing they’ll one day be real—even if that day is not today.
8. Attempt Something Knowing You'll Fail
You’d think that this would hurt your ego, wouldn’t it? Well, picture it this way: if you’re training to run a faster mile, you certainly won’t be able to hit the four-minute mark right from the get-go. But what if, for the heck of it, you tried to do it anyway? You most likely won’t reach your actual goal but you probably will have worked harder than you ever had before to hit your personal best. Instead of being moderate in your practice, you exerted your body to its absolute limits and showed yourself that you can do better. I’m not saying you should push yourself beyond your limits every single time you try, but think of it like a baseball player with swinging a weighted bat. When he steps up to the plate, he has a much easier time swinging the bat now that the added weight has been taken off.
In today’s world, if you’re not producing something, you don’t add much worth to the planet. Knowing this, it’s important that you use every ounce of your energy to be as productive as possible. Just don’t overexert yourself.
Do you have any other controversial productivity tips for us that actually work? Let us know in the comments section below!