6 Productivity Hacks That Actually Hurt You

6 Productivity Hacks That Actually Hurt You

Startups (and life) can be busy and hectic. Having good systems is key to managing the chaos and staying on top of tasks and projects.

I’ve already shared my 3 favorite strategies for staying organized and efficient. Today, we’re going to cover some common productivity misconceptions.

These myths hold people back from their best, most-productive selves. They induce people to focus on the wrong things, judge themselves unnecessarily, and get discouraged.

Let’s deconstruct these 6 productivity myths so we can get back on track with simplicity, consistency, and efficiency.

6 Productivity Myths To Watch Out For

Productivity Myth #1

I bought this new tool/planner/colored pen/magic rock and now I’ll be able to get organized!

In my experience, more tools do not equal more organization. It just means more to keep track of, more places to update, and more complexity. When in doubt, simplify.

Productivity Myth #2

One item slipped through the cracks, therefore this system doesn’t work.

It takes a bit to get the hang of any new system and customize it to your needs. Give yourself time and wiggle room as you get started.

Productivity Myth #3

When I have the right system, everything will be perfect.

No organization system or tool is perfect. Even when you have things dialed in, these systems depend on humans. And sometimes humans make mistakes - gasp!

Don’t get distracted by outliers or one-time exceptions. If these “exceptions” happen regularly, then they are no longer exceptions and you should plan for them in your normal workflow. Otherwise, figure out the one-time game plan or chalk it up to a fringe case and get back to work.

Productivity Myth #4

Set it and forget it.

I like to run as many things as possible on autopilot. Especially if they are repetitive or not a good use of time. But life and startups change pretty fast. Always revisit your systems to see if they are still serving you!

Plan a quarterly audit. Or pay attention to your stress levels, what tasks are most time consuming, or when you start dropping balls.

I regularly review my systems, schedule, workflows, inbox, and to-do items to see if something needs to be dropped, changed, or added.

Productivity Myth #5

Hit Inbox Zero every day.

Inbox Zero is beautiful and calming. It’s heralded by many as the pinnacle of productivity.

I get there a few times per week but I don’t make it a daily goal. As long as I have confirmed that all time-sensitive items are taken care of, I’m okay letting some things hang out until the next day.

I find that sleep and letting my brain reset are more important to my overall productivity than daily Inbox Zero. I rule my inbox. It doesn’t rule me!

Productivity Myth #6

Sleep less to get more done.

Sleep is really important. It makes you smarter, able to work more quickly, and stay calm and happy. All of those things are fantastic for productivity.

The next time you want to stay up late to get more done, get a good night’s sleep instead. You’ll be able to tackle that work in the morning and get it done better, in less time, and feel happier.

2 Things That Work!

If you’re working to be more organized and productive, don’t let these myths derail you. Productivity strategies are never one size fits all, but I’ve seen two recurring themes when people have systems that work.

1. Simplicity

  • Use as few tools as possible.
  • Stay as close to the “source” of the work or communication as possible. If you work mostly in email, stay in email. If you use Slack all the time, make that your main tool for organization.
  • Adding extra steps or transferring to-dos from one system to another leads to mistakes and process fatigue.

2. Consistency

  • An organization system only works if you follow it!
  • Pick something that makes sense for your personality, role, and lifestyle.
  • A decent system executed consistently is better than a “perfect” system implemented every few weeks. Do small tests and tweaks, not overhauls.

What are some productivity misconceptions that you’ve come across? What productivity tips have hurt your productivity?