4 Common Productivity Tips and Why They’re Unhelpful

Everyone has received advice about how to become more productive. Some of it’s useful advice, some of it not so much, and it’s not always obvious which is which. The truth is, learning how to be more productive depends on you, the individual, and no one knows you better than yourself.


Here are some of the top suggestions that probably won’t help, after all:


Don’t Check Your Email First Thing Upon Waking Up


This one has a few obvious problems right off the bat. What if someone has an important email waiting for them? What if their boss is trying to contact them? It isn’t good advice to not check your email in the morning, especially if a certain job relies on checking email regularly. For some businesses, this is the method of communicating, and not checking your email will only leave you out of the loop. You can tweak the spirit of the advice, though, to make it actually productive: Check the email but don’t reply to it if it takes too much time. Only reply if you can answer it quickly. And if you can’t, just make sure to check the “mark unread” box so you don’t forget to come back to it later.


Complete The Hardest Task First


Take this advice with a grain of salt, too. On the surface, it’s a good idea. Get the boring, difficult stuff out of the way and then everything else will happen more quickly. But, it’s not always helpful when the hardest task also takes the longest, and doesn’t leave enough time to finish everything else. Judge your tasks based off their importance instead of how hard they are, not how long they’ll take. If you prioritize by necessity, you’ll make a better use of your time.


Use a To-Do List


A to-do list is great for remedial tasks, but putting your entire life’s goals on one piece of paper is a bad idea. It can become overwhelming, stressful, and insanity-inducing to constantly look at your life’s goals, realizing that it will be a long time until any of these goals are accomplished. A better solution is to write down the tasks that will lead to your goals, or right down a list of short-term goals. If someone wants to be an architect, perhaps they can write down a list of locations around the city to visit for inspiration. If you want to get a promotion, you can write down things you can do to catch the attention of your boss in a positive way.


Do Not Multitask


Many people are great at multitasking. This doesn’t mean everyone should do it, but it certainly doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done. Telling someone who can juggle multiple tasks at once to stop is not good advice. It will actually lower productivity. However, some people simply aren’t built to multitask, so this advice may still hold some weight for them. Multitasking can be a great way to save time.

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