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3 Unproductive Productivity Myths





Hello Zen Organizer!


Today, we're going to debunk three very common myths about productivity!


Of course, there are many more false beliefs about productivity but I wanted to focus on these three because they are the ones I find the most annoying.


So let's jump right into it!


Myth #1: You have to be productive 100% of the time


We aren't made to be productive all the time, PERIOD. The average number of productive hours in a day is around three or four hours. Above that, it's almost impossible to stay focused and accomplish great quantities of work.


So once you've used up your productive hours, dedicate the rest of your day for creative tasks, to interact (ex. have meetings, make phone calls, reply to emails, etc.), or simply rest!


Plus, according to Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton, wanting to be productive all the time kills creativity:


“[P]roductivity and creativity demand opposite attention management strategies. Productivity is fueled by raising attentional filters to keep unrelated or distracting thoughts out. But creativity is fueled by lowering attentional filters to let those thoughts in” (Meyer, n.d.).

Also, according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (I also strongly agree with him!), it's more important to manage your energy instead of trying to manage your time. In his research, he's even found that's what creative people do and which allows them to maintain and foster their creativity:


"In fact, they rest often and sleep a lot. The important thing is that they control their energy; it's not ruled by the calendar, the dock, an external schedule. When necessary, they can focus it like a laser beam; when not, creative types immediately recharge their batteries. They consider the rhythm of activity followed by idleness or reflection very important for the success of their work. This is not a bio-rhythm inherited with their genes; it was learned by trial and error as a strategy for achieving their goals" (Csikszentmihalyi, 2021).

So identify the hours in which you are productive (you can listen to episode #12 on chronotypes for that, or work with me 😉), get your most important tasks done during these hours, and use the rest of the day to do less demanding and/or creative tasks, and REST!


Myth #2: Being busy equals being productive


In our culture, being busy (that is, having a lot of things to do) is often confused with being productive.


But there are crucial differences between being busy and productive. Here are some of the differences found by the Journal of European Psychology Students (Dablander, 2017):

  • Having “poorly specified” versus “clearly specified” goals;

  • “Hav[ing] multiple priorities, engag[ing] in multitasking” versus “hav[ing] clear priorities, focus[ing] on single task”;

  • “Immediately respond[ing] to any given task” versus “schedul[ing] tasks”;

  • “Say[ing] ‘yes’ to most of the things (impulsive ‘yes’)" versus “say[ing] ‘no’ to many of the things (thoughtful ‘yes’)";

  • "Talk[ing] about how little time one has, pass[ing] off social invites for work" versus "tak[ing] the time to do the things that matter"

Finally, let's not forget that there is a lot of pressure for people that are efficient and productive to always do more and take on more work. But you don't have to do that! You're allowed not to be always doing something! Don't feel guilty to say no to other people's requests just because you've already finished all your work. Enjoy this free time for yourself and do things that light you up!


Here are some tips to help you go from being busy to being productive:

  • Define your priorities with tools such as the Eisenhower Matrix or the Effort to Impact Matrix (stay tuned for an upcoming episode on that). Or, you can work with me to help you define your priorities and put into place mechanisms to make sure you prioritize your priorities!

  • Learn to say no;

  • Set a maximum of three priorities every day;

  • Schedule time off in your planner;

  • Determine a work schedule and stick to it;

  • Avoid cognitive switching (listen to episode 4 to learn more about multitasking and cognitive switching);

  • Accept that you don't always have to be doing something (I myself struggle with this!);

  • Put some routines into place (ex. end-of-the-day routine).


Myth #3: You have to wake up early to be productive


This is a false belief I particularly hate. I'm not at all a morning person and I'm still very productive!


We all have different rhythms, and that's amazing! If we all had the same rhythms, our society wouldn't work properly. So what I recommend is to learn your chronotype and organize your day based on that.


Listen to episode #12 to discover your chronotype. And don't forget to download this free workbook to learn how to use your chronotype to better organize your day and boost your productivity:

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There is no one size fits all productivity tip. You have to find what works for you and learn to listen to your body!


For example, if you're not a lion or a bear, your productivity peak is not in the morning. So even the tip to get the most important tasks done in the morning won't work for you!


 

If you're an entrepreneur struggling to stay on top of all of your tasks and need help to better organize your business, my coaching program might be for you! It's a 12-week program to help you build a personalized organization system that allows you to optimize your time and boost your productivity, so you can upscale your business serenely. All of it, in the respect of your personal rhythms! If you're interested, you can book a free discovery call with me here: https://calendly.com/zenlyorganized/discoverycall

 

What are your thoughts on these myths? Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram!


I wish you a zenly organized week,


Sarah



Free Notion training



Sources:

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2021). The Creative Personality. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/199607/the-creative-personality


Dablander, F. (2017). How to Stop Being Busy and Become Productive. Retrieved from: https://blog.efpsa.org/2017/06/02/how-to-stop-being-busy-and-become-productive/


Meyer, E. (n.d.). The Top 9 Productivity Myths That Just Aren’t True. Retrieved from: https://blog.doist.com/top-myths-productivity/