Productivity Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Productivity Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Written by Professional Academy Management and Leadership Tutor, Kathryn Knights

Let me set the record straight on what productivity really means and show you how to approach it correctly so you can achieve your ideal future, not just get more done. If you, or someone you know, sees ‘being busy’ as a bade of success this blog is for you. Down tools and read on.

Defining productivity

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of productivity, let’s start by being clear on what we mean by the term. The Collins dictionary states that ‘someone or something that is productive produces or does a lot for the amount of resources used’. So, there’s a link between what we put in and what we get out.

However, don’t overlook the importance of quality. Productivity for productivity’s sake is a pitfall in itself. I would argue that productivity is knowing your next action and knowing that action is something that is moving you forward to achieve your goals.

Productivity pitfalls

Here are five productivity pitfalls (hint: it’s not all about chasing money) and how to avoid them to help you become more focused, efficient and effective with your work habits. More importantly, they’ll help you concentrate on the things that really matter.

1) Curing problems at the expense of preventing them

Are you someone with a money app downloaded onto your phone or even an Excel spreadsheet that you use to track expenses? Do you use it to prevent overspend or to see just how much you consistently overspend by each month?

The pitfall with these trackers is that they don’t actually educate us to think more about our actions before we make them. What if the only way you could make a transaction was to raise a request for the spend – as usually happens with large transactions in the workplace? By doing so you would prevent the overspend happening in the first place and become far more effective at managing your money.

2) Efficiency at the expense of effectiveness

Being better at productivity isn’t just doing things right – but doing the right things. Does every process need to be streamlined? No. If streamlining takes more time than the benefit you will gain then leave it alone. Focus your efforts on improving the processes that will really move you forward towards your goals.

3) Busy-ness at the expense of mindfulness

There is a benefit of doing nothing. It might seem hard to believe because we live in a world of consumption, where our every waking moment is filled with information. Here is a question for you: do you reach for your phone when you’re in a queue? If the answer is ‘yes’ then you’re someone who needs to start stopping. Social media tools are designed to be addictive. We get a dopamine hit every time a notification appears on our phone and software developers design apps with this in mind. Downtime replenishes our brain’s store of attention and motivation. It also encourages productivity and is essential to achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories of everyday life. Mindfulness can help you become more aware of where you are and what you’re doing, without becoming overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you. Not sure where to start? Headpsace offers an app and downloads to help you live more mindfully.

4) Information at the expense of learning

Connected to busyness is our desire to consume information…all the time. It’s one thing to be informed, it’s another thing to be enlightened i.e. knowing the why behind an idea, comment or viewpoint. Do some serious housekeeping on the newsfeeds that fill your life (personally ad professionally). What information do you really need to know and how often do you need to be updated? The truth is that life is pretty steady most of the time. Being kept updated every minute of the day is just a form of procrastination that stops you spending time on the tasks that will move you closer to achieving your goals.

5) Comparing yourself with others at the expense of your yourself

Social media is filled with content based on the idea of perfection and that can cause you to be discontent. In fact, it’s not just social media that promotes perfection; magazines, TV and film do exactly the same thing. Comparing yourself with perfection is dangerous and sets you up to fail because it’s not realists. It’s far better to spend time focusing on where you are now and where you have come from to help you see how far you have come (gain mindset). If you focus on perfection you look the other way and compare where you are now with an idea of future perfection (gap mindset). Be content what you have. That doesn’t mean don’t improve, but be the best version of yourself. Now that’s what I call being productive.

If you need further advice, get in touch via My Website or LinkedIn.

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