Are you guilty of these 6 productivity myths?
We live in a culture that is obsessed with productivity. The more we take on, the more we feel like superheros flaunting our extraordinary talent for time management to the world.
How healthy is our determination to cram more into less and should we idealise working harder over working smarter?
Many of us search for the ultimate secrets that will turn our work and personal lives from a frazzled mess into a well-oiled machine. We tell ourselves all kinds of lies about our productivity levels that only push us towards burnouts and breakdowns.
What are productivity myths and can you relate?
What mistakes are we commonly making when we think about productivity. How do they affect the way you approach your business?
Let’s unpack these mistakes one by one.
Can you admit to being guilty of one or two, and how do you overcome them?
Myth #1. Working long hours must mean that I am productive
Hands up who can relate to this one? I don’t think that there is a self-employed person out there who cannot remember at least one time when they worked long hours.
We can kid ourselves into believing that the 12 hours we put in on the laptop each day must mean we are the busiest of people. But what exactly are we doing to fill that time? Are all of our activities bringing us in money or progressing our business in some way, or do we allow the distractions to creep in and monopolise our time?
Myth #2. A massive to-do list proves that I am really productive
So you’ve created yourself a to-do list that takes up an entire page and now you’re trying not to panic. Funny how being organised and writing a giant to-do list leads to inactivity because it’s just too damn daunting to even get started.
If your to-do list rivals the average blog post in length, then something is going seriously wrong. Nobody should have to cope with all of those things at once. Trying to tackle even half of them is still going to result in failure.
Myth #3. Taking on all aspects of my business means that I am a productivity machine
Doing everything yourself is the position most new business owners find themselves in. From accounting to social media, customer service to designing new products, in the early days of working for yourself you juggle many spinning plates.
Although this can feel incredible to begin with, overwhelm can quickly creep in. It’s unlikely that you are adept at everything related to running a business and certain things will fall outside your zone of expertise.
There comes a time when you need to calculate the cost of trying to do everything yourself versus outsourcing some of those tasks you don’t enjoy, don’t have time for or don’t know how to do.
Take a look at:
- The 50+ tasks a virtual assistant can take off your hands
- Why hiring a freelancer can skyrocket your productivity.
With more time on your hands, think about the head space you will gain. This is time better spent at running your business, instead of getting bogged down in the minutiae of it.
Myth #4. I’m working for hours on end so I must be getting more done
We’ve all hit our stride and felt totally in the zone from time to time.
These are the days when we sit at our desks at 8.30am and don’t come up for air until bedtime. Whilst these days can feel amazing occasionally, it’s not something we should be aiming to frequently replicate.
Working without a break is not only unhealthy for our bodies, but also stifles our creativity. Give your mind and body a rest by scheduling time off during your day and sticking to it.
If like me you struggle to fit in exercise into your daily routine, take a look at these suggestions on how to be more active when you work from home.
Myth #5. Multitasking is my middle name, which means I’m productive
Multi-tasking has been heralded as a gift, especially for women. However, does multitasking result in more being done? Does it enable you to produce high quality work faster than if you only focused on one thing?
Chances are the answer to these questions is actually no.
Although we pride ourselves on replying to emails whilst scheduling social media posts and carrying out work for a client, it’s actually not conducive to doing anything properly. Your attention is dragged in multiple directions at once causing you to produce sloppy results – no faster than if you concentrated on one thing at a time.
Blocking your time to focus on one area of work at a time, say drafting content for a client or editing photographs, means that you don’t keep breaking your concentration as you flit from job to job.
Tips for mastering your productivity
I’ve written about how to stay motivated when you work from home, and there are many similarities between this and feeling your most productive.
My top tips for being more productive are:
- Plan out your week ahead at the end of each Friday – use time blocking to schedule your calendar to focus on one thing at a time
- Be clear about what you have to get done each day – write it down in a diary or in your calendar
- Prioritise those difficult tasks for the morning to get them out of your way
- Don’t cram your to-do list with too much – highlight your three must-dos that day
- Minimise distractions whilst you work, such as email notifications
- Don’t forget to take breaks – resting your mind and moving your body is key.
I believe productivity has its roots in motivation. Motivation is closely linked to our goals and the “what’s in it for me?” aspect that sits behind the things we do.
In my opinion, being clear on what you have to do and why you are doing them is incredibly important for our productivity. Without goals underpinning our work, motivation quickly leaves the building and productivity follows closely behind.
Productivity is personal
What productivity means to one person can be very different to the next. The priorities of a business can differ hugely to the next, which will impact on the things you have to do.
With regards to your own productivity, it’s important to remember that the smartest thing you can do for yourself is to identify your biggest goals and time-stealers, then figure out what works best for you.
What do you think about these productivity myths? Are they your reality and how do you feel about them? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!
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