Want to be more productive? Beware productivity tips!

By Monique Craig (Marketing Specialist, Oneflare)

Being productive is perhaps the most important value in our professional lives. As we struggle to get as many things done as possible within time frames that get shorter and shorter, it’s easy to fall victim to one of these persistent productivity myths. Here are six misconceptions about productivity that might negatively affect your work output.

1. Surround Yourself with Productive People to Be Productive Yourself

Some believe that workers can only be productive in environments where everyone else is working as well. This is simply wrong. People can be productive in many places — including offices, cafes or their own homes.

One of the studies showed how working in public spaces can help workers get more things done. It all comes down to preferences – some like a buzz in the background, others prefer silence and the company of equally focused people around them.

2. You Can Get More Done by Multi-Tasking

This is a classic productivity myth. If you think completing several tasks at once will help you achieve more, you’re making a huge mistake. Recent research discovered many negative effects of multitasking – it slows you down, increases the probability of errors and, eventually, makes you feel much more stressed.

One study found out that in comparison to workers who preferred to focus on one task at a time, people used to multi-tasking would experience attention problems and find it hard to switch from one task to another.

3. If Your Desk Is Clean, It’s Optimized for Productivity

Putting together the idea of cleanliness and organization is another vital mistake made by many workers. Just because your desk is pristine doesn’t mean it’s well-organized – order is only as good as it’s functional.

To be productive, you need to be well-organized – objects you use daily should be within your reach and those used only from time to time located in places where you can easily find them. And don’t discount the messy desk. Researchers have also found people with messy desks can be highly productive.

4. Day-Dreaming is a Waste of Time

When you’re not doing anything, you’re not getting anything done – that’s the logic that powers a popular belief in the harm brought by boredom and day-dreaming to our productivity. In fact, these activities are responsible for our mental health.

By pausing your activity and not focusing on your task for a moment, you effectively allow your brain to recharge and process all the information acquired during the day. In effect, these moments of idleness actually power your productivity.

5. Eight Hours of Sleep are Essential

This is another productivity myth. Eight hours of solid sleep will supposedly prepare us for our day, but the truth is that this figure doesn’t make sense. There’s no universal standard on how much sleep you need for optimal cognitive function.

If you think you’ve got your own sleep standard figured out, think again. You might need more or less sleep depending on the season, activities of the previous day or even your mood. The key is to know yourself – that’s when you’ll be able to effectively tell when those additional 30 minutes of sleep might be worth it.

6. Being Busy and Productive are the Same Thing

Many people think that being busy with attending meetings and checking emails is a sign of productivity. Well, guess what? Most workers consider unfocused meetings the first reason for unproductive workdays and checking your email every 10 minutes can hardly be considered productive. Being busy in this sense is the exact opposite of productivity. Essentially, you’re just wasting your time.

What’s the key to productivity? The answer lies in individual preferences and working habits. Just because a set of rules works for some people, it doesn’t mean that it will prove effective for you. The trick is to know yourself and develop your own strategy to get more things done.

What other myths would you like to debunk?

Photo credit: Anna Vaczi via Shutterstock.