lightbulb and stock charts with colored gel lightingThe whole point behind being “productive” is to minimize the amount of time you spend performing tasks in order to free up more time to do others. Sometimes this means clearing out your chores list so that you have more time to do what you want to do. Other times it means working at a sufficient pace to meet project deadlines while also performing your job at a high level. Whatever your end goal for being productive, there is a veritable cornucopia of advice designed to help you simplify your routine.

Unfortunately, most of that advice probably has you shifting papers and priorities around instead of actually accomplishing your goals. That being the case, a little myth busting is in order to dispel some of the false knowledge and ineffective instructions on how to get things done. The following are a few myths (and why they are bunk) that are perpetuated about productivity and why they do more harm than good.

Myth number one is that many of your efficiency problems can be solved simply by getting up early enough in the day. The idea originated from a years-old study by a biologist at the University of Heidelberg that found early risers tended to be more productive than late risers. While much talk the “early riser = more productivity” equation developed from this research, the real finding was simply that people who wake up earlier tend to be more proactive and productivity focused. The real key to being more productive is to work the hours that best fit your lifestyle. A little experimentation can reveal when you feel more productive and when it’s time to relax and engage in more creative endeavors.

Myth number two involves the idea that the only way to move through a slump is to force your way through the causative intellectual or emotional blocks. But the reality is that human willpower is a limited resource and needs to be directed wisely. It’s the law of diminishing returns all over again: the more you force yourself to work through a slump, the less productive you will become. A much better remedy is to take fully disengaged breaks from your work, give yourself a chance to recharge, and do something else.

Another popular (and growing) productivity myth is that our heightened level of connectedness to information/Internet is actually making us dumb, affecting our ability to be creative and to learn. The argument goes that the Internet is fundamentally altering the way people absorb information thus making us less likely to think for ourselves in lieu of turning to the Internet for answers. And while there is evidence to suggest that more people are choosing Internet research over data memorization, the real problem lies in how we interpret the information we receive. It is more an issue of learning to filter out all of the unneeded information to focus solely on what we really need.

In the end, advice and information on productivity is everywhere, but, just like any information we choose to commit to memory, it is necessary to research and confirm the validity of it before accepting the information as valid. Productivity issues are different for everyone so no remedy is relevant to everyone. As long as you recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach you can filter the information you receive, verify it for yourself, and make the best choices for your own life.


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