3 Common Productivity Hacks That Actually Don’t Work (and What to Do Instead) was written by Bryanna Ulrick and originally appeared on Way Up.
If you’re like most people, procrastination can be a key issue. And while there are so many magical productivity tips and tricks out there, let’s be real: Many of them don’t work.
What’s a waste of time, and what should you be doing instead? Here are three common productivity hacks people use and what you should be doing instead.
1. Myth: Multitasking Is More Productive
Although it may stand to reason that listening to a podcast while messaging your best friend on Facebook about your hot date coming up on Friday and working on your biology essay while also painting your nails can help you accomplish many tasks efficiently at once, the reality is that it doesn’t. Our productivity can decrease by as much as 40% from multitasking, as we switch tasks and actually lose time by interrupting ourselves between tasks.
Reducing your amount of multitasking can lead to greater progress on projects that you have deemed challenging and have not gotten to by distracting yourself with something else, as well as decrease the stress you may feel by working often but not actually accomplishing anything. By disconnecting ourselves from our cellphones and computers when they are not necessary, we can be more mindful of the world around us and tune into the task at hand. Give yourself a deadline for the task at hand and use your electronics as an incentive for the work that you accomplish by that deadline.
Taking breaks that relieve your mind, get your oxygen flowing, and give your brain a break from one task are essential.
2. Myth: Working as Much as Possible Gets More Done
The United States has a much higher rate of work hours than many countries, and often others with fewer hours in their work week tend to have higher rates of productivity.
Taking breaks that relieve your mind, get your oxygen flowing, and give your brain a break from one task are essential. Using methods such as the Pomodoro Technique can help you allocate your work and make sure that you give yourself a break depending on how much work you can get done and how much time you need before you can go back to working without overdoing it.
Recently while attending a panel at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, I had the pleasure of hearing Ernie Rebustillo, a representative from Right to Play International, talk on the importance of play and allowing ourselves to find a balance between work and play time. When play is purposeful, learning occurs, and provides us with a way to express ourselves while also encouraging critical thinking, problem solving, and literacy skills.
The idea of “play” can just be a hobby or something that makes you happy, whether it is cooking, painting, walking around outside, or having fun talking with your friends for a little while. When we allocate ourselves time to have fun and be creative, it makes our work that much more effective when we return to it, refreshed.
Rather than trying to do too much at once, allocate yourself time for work and play!
3. Myth: Technology Makes Everything Better and Faster
Rather than using our electronic devices to constantly keep in touch through email and Facebook, connecting with others in person can often let you be more productive by giving you human contact and increasing your endorphins when you have positive interactions with others. Often, using our electronics too often in what we think are productive ways can result in us taking ourselves too seriously (not allowing us to have a break from work), being disrespectful and unkind (not communicating with people in public places, not paying attention to where we are going), or letting your tools control you (not being able to live life without your device!)
Recently, I lost my cellphone while abroad in Bangkok, and it has taught me the importance of checking your electronics and making sure that they don’t control you. I have found it much easier to both be productive and social with others, as I am not constantly connected to my phone and many outside distractions which often have no relevance to the task at hand. Make sure you minimize your cell phone use when completing important tasks!
Rather than trying to do too much at once, allocate yourself time for work and play! Dividing work and play time allows us to be more mindful of our work, and allows our brain to have time during which it can rejuvenate without feeling overwhelmed. Unplugging from technology during these break times can allow us to reconnect with reality and those around us, enjoying nature and a world outside of human constraints.