Now that you’re here, I do actually have the ultimate productivity hack to share with you, as there is only 1 in the whole wide universe that really works:
- Decide on a goal that you want to achieve today.
- Block out some time in your busy agenda to work on it.
- Do the work and go home.
That’s it. You knew it before reading this post, didn’t you? Then why is it so hard?
Why Is It So Hard to be Productive at Work?
When you’re struggling with productivity in a way that makes you read articles about it, chances are you’re:
- not challenged enough at work
- working for an unstructured boss or in a chaotic environment
- very creative
Because, let’s face it, people who simply know they have to work focused and hard to get done what needs to be done , because they work in a structured environment where it’s clear what ‘done’ actually amounts to, whose brains aren’t constantly coming up with creative, better and newer ways to deal with the task at hand instead of… just doing it , and who don’t get the jitters from sitting at a desk for longer that 15 minutes…, well, they don’t need productivity hacks.
If you get to work in the morning and your boss points out a pile of wood you have to chop by the end of the day, gives you your tools, a pat on the back and a friendly ‘now get on with it!’, you won’t go surfing the internet to find the answer to… where all those hours that you spent surfing the internet went. I know I am over-simplifying here, as there is more to being a woodcutter than just turning up and starting to chop, but you understand what I’m getting at.
Very few of us reading this will have jobs as lumberjacks. Or office jobs where it’s always clear what our task is for that matter, and what ‘done‘ actually means. So we do a bit of this and a bit of that, worrying about how productive it all is… until, at a certain point in time, we come across some really cool tips and tricks that seem to be written especially for us… That’s how we get hooked on productivity hacks.
The Productivity Porn Industry
I could give you an endless list of tips and tricks to be more productive at work, ranging from different kinds of note-taking to eating the frog in the morning*, from downloading a gazillion apps for your phone to buying a physical in-tray to get organized at home too.
There’s even a whole ‘productivity porn‘ industry out there, getting people addicted to trying out every latest system or method and, in the process, making them feel weak and unworthy somehow. All with good intentions, mind you.
These tips and tricks aren’t written by evil people, it’s just very difficult to stick with a system that you haven’t built yourself. You’ll be motivated in the beginning , but then your enthusiasm will inevitably wane. You might stop using the system and you’ll end up feeling worse. Feeling bad about being unproductive, and feeling bad about not sticking to the plan on top of that. Until the next fad comes along… and you hop on the bandwagon again, your high hopes just waiting to be shattered by the grim reality that your problem probably has very little to do with the color of your pens, your filing system or your list-making skills. The problem might find it’s cause outside of you… but you have to find the courage deep inside of yourself to address it.
Do You Really Need a Productivity Hack?
For a refreshing point of view to beat procrastination and stop wasting time, try looking at the problem from the outside. Are you really to blame? Is it not that you need to address some issues in your work environment that somehow keep you from being your best ‘you’?
Being productive happens:
- when you do what you’re good at,
- for a project, for a team or for a boss that you believe in
- in a situation that is rewarding for you on a personal level
So before jumping on another productivity craze, take a look at these points and see if you can perhaps address the underlying reasons for your procrastination. Because you really don’t want to be like that guy who ended up hiring somebody to slap him in the face every time he checked Facebook…
*”Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Mark Twain