See, here’s the thing about productivity, everyone gets motivated in different ways. You have to find what works for you. That doesn’t mean that lists and tips aren’t helpful, they can help you figure out what works for you. That being said, here are a couple tips that make the rounds that might not be as great as advertised.
- “Finish the toughest job first” : In theory, this is great, knock out the hardest task first, leaving yourself the rest of the day to coast and work on easier projects. But what happens when you never finish that tough job? You’re behind on the rest of your day and never get the chance to finish up the so-called “easy” work. The better bet is to meet these tasks somewhere in the middle. It’s fine to start on that difficult task first, but if you find yourself 6 hours deep into it with other work still left to go, pivot and work on those for awhile. The time away will let you come back with a fresh mind.
- “Refrain from checking emails first thing in the morning” : Many lists will tell you to skip on checking your email immediately, but what happens when you miss out on something important? Once again, middle ground can be found and might help your day out. Check those emails, but if a response requires research and time, hold off on replying until you’re prepared. If the email requires a simple confirmation of receipt, go ahead and respond, 30 seconds out of your day will not break you.
- “Listen to music to help focus” : This really depends on the person, some people work better with a pair of headphones on, others get too distracted. If you find yourself singing along and tapping your feet more than your keyboard then it might be time to take the headphones off. Other options include changing what kind of music you listen to. Top 40 and generally catchy music can be a distraction, instead try ambient music and music without lyrics.
Productivity tips are great, but they have to be taken with a grain of salt; what works for you might not work for someone else. This goes for every tip you read, but the three above are main offenders that get listed quite often and should be looked at closer before committing to them.