Friday, March 25, 2016

Eight productivity myths busted

No one ever said, "I'd like to be less productive." In today's world of hyper-connectivity, we're expected to always be 'on' because everyone else is. And sometimes it burns us out. Here are the things we think we should be doing in order to be more productive, but actually don't need to do. You're about to become more productive, without even trying, by busting these productivity myths.

Keep to-do lists

A long to-do list means we've got a lot to do, it doesn't mean we do a lot. Unconsciously it changes from a to-do list into a "what you haven't done list" and creates more stress and anxiety. A 'done list', on the other hand, is a list of things you have achieved. It creates positive associations and new connections in your brain, making you feel better about yourself.

Idea meetings

The first rule of having good ideas: Don't try to have good ideas. When there's pressure to think of a "great" idea, you start judging them before you've even written anything down. Whatever you're working on, try giving yourself 10 minutes to come up with 10 ideas on the subject. What's important is not to worry if these ideas are any good or not. Your only goal is to think of 10 ideas.

Get enough sleep

If you've got a creative problem to solve, you're at your best when you're not at your best. If you're tired, your brain is not so good at focusing on tasks or filtering out distractions. Your mind will wander more and therefore you'll be far more likely to create new connections and come up with unexpected ideas. Try setting your alarm half an hour before you have to get up. Being half asleep can encourage your mind to wander and let your unconscious thoughts bubble up.

Be a good listener

When you have a problem you've been stuck on for a while, you don't need to hear what other people think; you need to talk to a rubber duck. By stating the problem out loud, your brain mentally organises all the information, simplifies the problem and engages more areas of the brain. And unlike a person, the duck won't interrupt, yawn or say, he's too busy to deal with this right now.

Focus on success

Rather than imagining that a project you're working on is going to be a success, try imagining that it's going to be a complete failure. That's the idea behind the pre-mortem managerial strategy — it actively encourages you to be as negative as you can, so that you can identify threats to your success as soon as possible. That way you can be prepared for any possibility.

Ditch the screens

To be really productive, what you do in your break is just as important as what you do whilst you're working. Once you've stretched your legs and got yourself a coffee, the last thing you should do is sit down at your desk and check up on what's happening in the news. What you should be doing is watching videos of grumpy cats or whatever makes you laugh. A positive mood increases our cognitive flexibility.


There seems to be a current trend for de-cluttering. But if you want to solve problems, messy is the way to go. Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Alexander Fleming, Mark Zuckerberg and Alan Turing all have or had messy desks. Our brains are impressionable, so the subconscious cues of disorder in a messy room can make the way we think "messy". This disorderly thinking is an ideal state to be in when trying to come up with innovative and unexpected ideas.

Be sincere

Far from being the lowest form of wit, sarcasm actually engages more of the brain. Telling someone "Don't work too hard" when they are clearly resting, puts the receiver's brain into abstract thinking mode, which increases creativity. Research has shown that in fact, both being sarcastic and being at the receiving end, more than doubled participants abilities to solve problems creatively.