There are a lot of people talking about what you ought to do to be more productive, or which fancy tools and apps you should use to get more things done. However, there aren’t as many people talking about what you shouldn’t do to try and be more productive, or which activities will make you less productive (email is the only thing getting attention here). I’m changing that today by discussing four productivity mistakes people make that they don’t realize are mistakes.
Multitasking is now considered one of the most important and necessary skills in today’s society and modern workplace. With all that we have to do, and with the increasing amount of things we have to do, it sometimes feels like we need to be doing things all the time or else we’re not being productive.
What makes multitasking such a huge productivity mistake is that those that do it the most are the worst at it. Research from the University of Utah also found that the most frequent of multitaskers tend to be more impulsive, sensation-seeking, and overconfident of their multitasking abilities when compared to those who hardly ever multitask. Productivity is defined as, “having the power to produce.” By that definition, multitasking is the opposite of productivity because you are more prone to distractions and have less power to produce what you need to produce.
2) Not Getting Enough Rest
That’s the solution to being more productive! Grab that extra cup of coffee and stay up until 3 a.m. After all, you need those extra hours to make a big deadline.
It sounds much more awful than the actual way to be productive: get more out of your waking hours.
A recent Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity. Why? When we get tired, we make mistakes, which means more time and money must be put into correcting those mistakes. When we get tired, it takes us longer to do things, costing more time and money to do something that could get done in less time if we were fully awake. Putting in 12 hours a day has been hallmarked as the way to success and productivity, but at what cost here?
3) Doing Everything Yourself
Either one of two problems is contributing to this productivity mistake: you don’t like delegating tasks, or you’re having trouble prioritizing which tasks deserve your time. If you give doing the laundry the same priority as attending that certification class or the client meeting, then you’ll easily become overwhelmed. Instead, figure out which tasks deserve your time the most (or those tasks that you do best), and outsource something that’s of low priority. You don’t actually have to do the laundry; it just needs to get done.
If you’re uncomfortable delegating because you feel you can’t trust people to do the work the way you want to do it, then your distrust is holding you back and making you less productive. You’re also robbing your colleagues of the chance to show what they can do and putting more burden on yourself. Break this barrier by delegating a smaller project (one that won’t ruin the world if it doesn’t get done right), or just have someone help you on a project so you can build trust with a specific person. This way, the next time you need to delegate a task, you’ll have someone you can trust to do the job while knowing that it’s not so bad to delegate in the first place.
4) You Don’t Have a Vision
This isn’t necessarily a big picture vision for your career or personal life, but a vision for what you actually want to accomplish. If you need to write a 10-page white paper, for example, putting “write white paper” on your task list lacks the vision of what you want to accomplish. How do you know if you were productive in getting that done, besides writing the entire thing in one sitting? You don’t. Instead, visualize what you want to get done that day or that week for some of these larger tasks. So, instead of “write white paper”, you could “outline the white paper” or “write three pages of the white paper.” Writing the entire thing in one sitting may feel productive, but it’s a very tiring way to be productive.
by Allison Midori Reilly