Hate is a strong word, but many people genuinely hate productivity. Of course, we all enjoy the fruits of a productive day while lying in bed that night and counting our list of accomplished tasks with glee.
Nonetheless, the road to productivity can be hard. Being productive is a combination of taking action, staying focused, and being strategic. When done wrong, the effort this requires can push us toward burnout and even depression.
Even worse, there’s little agreement on the best ways to be productive. This confusion in productivity tips often leads us to adopt the wrong strategies for ourselves. The result of failure and stagnation leaves us unproductive and frustrated.
Instead of hating productivity, keep reading for productivity tips to change the way you think. Use them as a roadmap to find your most efficient way of working.
Productivity Hacks and Secrets
Productivity isn’t necessarily about working fast – it’s about maximizing your output for the time and effort spent. Work smarter, not harder.
Here are some tips to help you end your hate for productivity and find the blueprint for the most productive version of yourself.
Accept Your Unproductivity, Then Move On
You sat down with your to-do list, fresh and ready to tackle every item. A few hours later, you find yourself way behind schedule, not having accomplished what you planned.
Here’s where many people go wrong: don’t beat yourself up. Accept that you were unproductive, and detach from the negative feeling.
Judging yourself only makes things worse. It guarantees you’ll be even more unproductive, and over time, this can lead to depression (and you’ll hate productivity). Once you’ve let go, you can move on, start fresh, and be productive again.
Prioritize the Important Things (and Ditch the Others)
Find yourself blindly staring at a computer screen with a sinking pit in your stomach every time you approach a task? Maybe your subconscious is trying to tell you it’s not important enough to tackle (and making you think you hate productivity).
It’s easy to fill a to-do list with a thousand trivial tasks, but many of those are often unnecessary. What’s the one thing you can do that makes the other items irrelevant?
Few things are more rewarding than accomplishing a significant task. Make that important call (and use Krisp to cut out the background noise), write that paper or program, or send in those job applications. If you’re going to struggle with productivity, make your effort worthwhile by focusing on the essential things.
Don’t Multitask, and Turn off Distractions
Our brains aren’t wired to focus on multiple things at once. In today’s world, distractions abound. Texts, social media, emails, notifications, and in-person interruptions shift your focus and exhaust you from continual context switching. This fatigue is a sure-fire way to make you hate productivity.
Take a few minutes to sit down, check your messages, eliminate other distractions, then turn them off. If you need extra help with dealing with distractions try using productivity apps. You can often accomplish more in one hour of unbroken focus than a day of constant interruptions.
Schedule to Maintain Focus – but Don’t Overcomplicate It
Studies say our brains can only effectively concentrate on something for about one hour. After that, productivity begins to drop.
Set a timer for an hour. Get yourself into a productive zone as you leave all thoughts of the outside world behind. Keep a clock nearby so you can watch your progress and create urgency. Pressure doesn’t make us hate productivity – it helps us get more done and makes productivity rewarding.
When time is up, take a quick break. Do some quick exercise, take a short walk, grab something to eat or something else that re-energizes you. It’s harder to hate productivity when you’re feeling refreshed.
Sometimes You’re More Productive If You Walk Away
It’s counter-intuitive, but sometimes the most productive thing you can do is walk away (depending on the task). Frustration will make you quickly hate productivity. Sometimes your mind needs to take a break or work on the problem behind the scenes.
John Carlton, one of history’s most accomplished copywriters, would often spend some time working on a subject – then walk away. As he slept or did other things, his mind did the work in the background. After coming back, he’d be able to finish what he was working on quickly.
Take Care of Your Mind – and Body
Your body’s health directly affects the state of your mind. If you’re in a low, depressed state, then don’t expect your brain to give you 101% effort on the task at hand. Feeling like a failure never helped anyone cease to hate productivity.
Sometimes all you need is a good meal before getting started. Others are more productive while fasting. Science tells us that exercise increases BDNF levels in the brain, which makes you smarter. Getting enough sleep is crucial for your performance. Take care of your body as much as possible to reach your productivity potential.
Build Momentum WIth Easy Tasks
Having trouble getting started? Maybe the secret you’ve missed is momentum. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and your mind is no different.
What’s the first, smallest step you can take on the task at hand? Find an easy win, and knock it off the list. Pat yourself on the back.
We’re programmed to seek rewards – so it makes sense that the fastest way to stop hating productivity is to reward yourself for a job well-accomplished, no matter how small. This positive momentum raises your state and helps you become more productive.
Use Triggers (Especially Noise)
Most highly successful people all agree on one thing: triggers are powerful. When we see, hear, touch, taste, or smell something, it can immediately put us in the zone.
Use this to your advantage. Grab a quality pair of active noise cancelling headphones for working and put on background noise. Some favor classical music, others prefer their favorite playlist, and many swear by “white noise.”
Find what works best for you, blot out distractions with sound, and create this trigger to put you in the productive zone immediately. Instead of thinking about how much you hate productivity, you’ll be intensely focused on the task at hand.
Visualize the Reward
We often hate productivity because we’re focused on pain from trying to be being productive, rather than the reward it will bring.
Motivate yourself to become more productive by visualizing success. What will you get when you accomplish the task?
Maybe you get paid, acquire a new skill, or simply no longer have to stare that to-do list item in the eyes anymore. Focusing on success rather than the struggle makes it much easier not to hate productivity.
Try New Things, Then Pivot
Read productivity tips, and you’ll see dozens of enthusiastic, well-intentioned people championing their preferred method of productivity. Fast all day? Wake up at 5 AM? Do the big tasks before the little tasks? There’s no end of (often contradictory) advice.
Before committing to a mantra, give it a try. Keep an open mind and experiment with different things. Maybe sleeping in late works best for you, or working at 2 AM with a television in the background puts you in the zone. You’ll hate productivity less if you investigate and test for the unique combination of techniques that best for you.
Create Your Most Productive Environment
Many people find that their environment has a profound effect on their productivity. If you’re living the digital nomad life, you might not always have control over your environment. Still, as much as possible, set yourself up for success.
Having a clean room and workspace helps many people focus. For you, it could be that a pile of papers in a creative mess facilitates your best work. Experiment and find what works best for you.
Stop Reading Now (and Do Something Productive)
Give these tips a try. Explore what works best for you.
Everyone swears by a different “secret” to productivity, so the odds are that there’s no right answer. With some time and focused testing, you’ll find your sweet spot and no longer hate productivity.