Sometimes, the things we believe about productivity can actually end up making our lives less productive. Whilst most of these myths may appear on face value to give you more time and make your work life and social life more productive. The actual outcome of these myths is far from that. Whilst we may not necessarily believe in all of these myths, I think we’re all guilty of doing some of these from time to time. So here it is, my list of eight common myths about productivity.
Myth 1: Not taking breaks makes you more productive
It goes without saying that you need to put in the time and effort in order to be productive, however working yourself to death without taking breaks can be just as bad as not putting enough time in at all. Take regular breaks in order to recharge your body and mind, however brief this break may be. If you work all day on a computer, ensure you get up every now and then and just have a walk round the office. This will briefly take your mind of whatever it is you were doing, so you will come back with a fresh mind. This will increase concentration levels throughout the day and ensure you don’t get to a point where you “burn out”.
Myth 2: If you’re always busy, you’re being productive
Too many people in this world often confuse the words busy and productive. As Henry Ford once said. “Improved productivity means less human sweat, not more”.
Focus on being productive as opposed to just being busy. Got a to do list which is a mile long? An ideal size for a to do list is around 3 to 8 items. This ensures that you prioritise the items on the list which must get done, and avoid the menial tasks which do not necessarily need your attention. This will ensure your time is spent being productive rather than just being busy.
Myth 3: Multitasking improves efficiency
Jumping from task to task is one of the best ways to fool yourself into thinking your being productive. According to this report, only 2% off the population are able to multi task whilst not reducing productivity. So if you think you are in this 2% and it really works for you, then go for it! The likelihood is however that you will be in the remaining 98% of us who cannot increase our productivity by trying to juggle multiple tasks all at once.
Myth 4: Procrastination is natural and unavoidable
Procrastination can be caused by a number of things such as; lack of motivation, bad habits and laziness. Whilst every individual needs time to relax, it is important to note that procrastination is not the same thing as relaxation. In fact, you’re actually getting the worst of both worlds. You’re getting nothing done, yet the cogs in your mind are still whirring away. Find techniques that help you to avoid procrastination. One technique I use is to create a list of small tasks that need my attention, however do not require much brain power or concentration to complete. When you find yourself procrastinating, open up your list and get some of the menial tasks completed.
Myth 5: Having lots of meetings increases productivity
I’m sure nearly everyone has sat through a meeting and thought to yourself “what a waste of time this is”. Meetings are unavoidable within an organisation, however a meeting for the sake of a meeting should be avoided at all costs.
Myth 6: A clean workspace is an organised workspace
Whilst a clean workspace may look more pleasing to the eye, it may not be the best environment to work in. Swap your clean workspace to an organised workspace to increase your productivity when working at your workspace.
Myth 7: Sacrifice sleep to get the work done
Sleep is key to ensuring the brain is functioning correctly and you can maintain concentration. People often fool themselves into thinking they’re being productive by staying up late into the night trying to finish the days’ to do list. Whilst you make get the tasks completed, you will not be completed the tasks to the best standard you can if you’re tired. Also, think of it has stealing productivity from the next day. You will wake up tired in the morning and not be able to function your best throughout the day. You will have sacrificed the productivity for 10 or so hours of the following day for the sake of a few hours the night before.
Myth 8: You work best under pressure
This is the main excuse used by people who cannot manage their time correctly and who will put off starting the work until the night before it is due. Granted, you may work faster under pressure as you have lots of motivation due to the close deadline, however this may greatly reduce the quality of your work. You should learn to work efficiently under pressure for situations where it cannot be avoided such as important meetings. However, you should avoid working under pressure whenever you can to increase productivity and the quality of your work.