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5 common productivity myths - busted

Don’t let the productivity gurus fool you

December 25, 2021 / 05:15 PM IST
(Representational image) There is sufficient research to show that night owls can be just as productive as early risers.

(Representational image) There is sufficient research to show that night owls can be just as productive as early risers.

When it comes to productivity, the general belief is that certain things – procrastination, multitasking – are bad, whereas others – setting big goals, using productivity apps – are labelled as good. This may not always be the case. While monotasking is indeed the cool new thing to practice, perhaps you are sharper when you’re juggling tasks. On the other hand, setting big goals may demotivate you because the target is so far off that you can’t even see it.

So, here are some productivity myths that could be, well, counterproductive.

Start your day early

There is a strong case to be made for waking up at 5 am. Indeed, there’s an entire movement build around it. Waking up early does have its benefits. You’ve accomplished a fair bit before the rest of the world has even woken up. It feels great when that happens; trust me, I know. But there’s also sufficient research to show that night owls can be just as productive.

Modern Love (Season 2) features the real-life story of a woman with delayed sleep phase syndrome who lives out her entire life in the night because of her condition. Truth is, you can be just as successful if you wake up post-sundown as you would be if you wake up at 5 am. Just ask A.R. Rahman.

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Tick everything off your to-do list

A to-do list can be ambitious, but you should also know that it’s okay to not get to the end of it. I avoid making long to-do lists but it doesn’t mean that they are easily achievable. If you’re able to complete everything on your to-do list consistently for a long period of time, chances are you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. Keep your lists just long enough that they push you to achieve as much as possible on them but also know that it would be okay if you didn’t accomplish all the tasks on it. More often than not, there are always a couple of tasks on my list that get carried forward to the next day or remain unaccomplished. I’m okay with that because these tasks are not that high up on my list of priorities and occasionally fall in the ‘nice-to-achieve’ category.

Also read: Healing Space | Does the year-end urge to make a list do more harm than good?

Productivity apps are the way to go

Make no mistake, productivity apps are great as long as you wield them well. In fact, they can even be crucial when you’re working from home. But apps like every other piece of technology can also serve as a distraction. If you have a system that’s working for you, stick with it. If you want to use an app, make sure it’s actually helpful and not just the hot new thing. Remember, you can function perfectly well without an app. All of human civilization did for centuries.

Don’t procrastinate

Okay, just to be clear, procrastination can be bad. If you’re putting off doing something and, say, watching Insta Reels instead, that’s definitely coming in the way of you being productive. But if you’re not feeling like doing something – say preparing that boring report – it’s okay to put it off. The key thing is to make a trade-off and something else that is equally important. Complete that presentation instead or send out those emails you’ve been meaning to, or really just finish off that bank work. TLDR: exchanging one task for another is fine. Dumping an important job to watch something aimlessly is not.

Set big goals

It is great to have ambitious goals. But it’s also important to know how to achieve them. The best way to achieve a big goal is by setting realistic goals every day. Let’s say you want to complete a Udemy course. Instead of merely setting that as a goal, break it down in your daily to-do list. Say you will complete one hour of lectures every day from Monday to Friday. That way you won’t be daunted by the idea of completing that long course right from the get-go.

The thing about productivity is that you must first acknowledge what works for you and what doesn’t. It also doesn’t mean that you become complacent. You cannot just say: hey exercising doesn’t work for me, and take it off the list completely. Find a workout you enjoy. Similarly, find a routine that works for you. Don’t overexert yourself, of course, but also learn to push yourself. It’s the only way anyone has ever got better at what they do.

Also read: Email productivity tips to save you from yourself
Abhishek Mande Bhot is a freelance journalist.
first published: Dec 25, 2021 05:04 pm
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