5 Myths about Productivity

14 Jul 2022

Productivity is a concept, usually referring to how efficiently one can complete their tasks and assignments. Defined as a sub-category of time management, increasing one’s productivity allows for more time for different tasks and free time that everyone strives to have. To increase productivity, different strategies can be implemented depending on the person's habits, beliefs, and schedules, but here are some common mistakes that are made in an attempt to increase efficiency.

1. Copying the habits of highly successful people is a viable solution to becoming more productive

People take inspiration from their idol figures, ranging from parents to celebrities to innovators from different centuries. Each successful person has their own strategies and programs to keep them motivated and productive, but a myth that people believe is that copying their strategies would instantaneously make them more efficient. However, this is incorrect, as every human has their own attributes and preferences, an example being one may have more stamina, but another may work harder in short periods of time. Instead of copying an idol figure’s routine, develop your own based on your strengths and weaknesses to ensure you achieve the maximum output of productivity as possible. For example, creating intervals of work time is one option, and implementing online strategies such as the Pomodoro technique can also be a viable alternative, although be aware of whether or not it fits you. For more information on the Pomodoro technique, check out another one of our blogs.

2. Maximize and devote every minute of your day to your productivity

A common misconception about efficiently using your time is that one should constantly be working or developing without taking breaks. However, this strategy will result in an extreme amount of stress, fatigue, and burnout, which is the lack of motivation or inability to work. Instead of focusing on quantity, focus on quality, as it’s completely fine and suggested that taking breaks is optimal. By resting your mind and body, you’re able to do more with higher results than before, so implementing a schedule with breaks and free time is the correct option.

3. Work towards a reward
    You often see the typical trope in movies with young children; adults or teachers offering a child a reward for their efforts. Although it’s not a horrible idea conceptually, it changes when in terms of passion. Constantly being offered rewards for a goal that requires a large amount of commitment is incorrect, as if the reward were to disappear, one wouldn’t have the motivation or investment to complete their goal. Although some assignments, such as homework from school, are inevitable responsibilities, most of us will pursue short or long term goals that truly rely on one’s enthusiasm and interests, or blatant bribery with rewards. So the next time you invent a goal/task, question your passion regarding the topic, and whether or not you would truly invest a large amount of your precious time into the project. If the answer is no, reconsider your choice and aim for a different goal in mind. But if the answer is yes, go for it!

4. Visualize reaching your goal

Imagination is a wildly manipulative thought that allows you to dream about your futures or potential situations you prefer. The visualization of you achieving a goal you’ve been working towards is a dream come true, and you begin to believe that the goal is easily within your grasp, but it’s suddenly wrenched away. You ran out of time. Although the imagination of the achievement of your task is a pleasant thought, it can take your focus away from quality and completion. Visualizing a completion can also enforce a belief that the steps moving forward are few, causing procrastination and lack of quality. Instead of imagining the benefits before achieving your objective, aim to finish it and reap your rewards afterward. The benefits always feel larger if you worked hard for it!

5. Negative reinforcement is better than positive

In 1938, a man by the name of B.F. Skinner once proposed two concepts to improve productivity and structural habit building. One idea was negative reinforcement, which involves the pressure of receiving a punishment or a detrimental item/penalty, and utilizing that pressure as a threat to expedite someone’s efficiency or success. On the other hand, positive reinforcement involves positive encouragement/rewards that one receives during their success, forming a more lenient and relaxed environment. Although negative reinforcement is more effective due to fear’s overwhelming priority in terms of emotions, it’s nonbeneficial and immoral. This strategy will only work temporarily, and will not teach or improve one’s productivity/chance of success either. However, by promoting a positive message, one is more likely to recognize and implement different strategies to become more efficient with time, for example. Therefore, if you are a parent or caretaker who’s trying to take care of children, a positive message will always get through quicker than negative reinforcement, and can help improve habits such as time management.

Productivity, or time management in general, is a skill that we constantly improve. We all strive to become more efficient with our tasks, and attempt to reach for greater heights with the limited time we’re given. But by developing your own custom schedule and avoiding some of these common mistakes, you can generate the time for greater achievements and that free time everyone works towards, and reach those goals that you always were aiming for.