We are arguing about the usefulness of some well known tips on productivity. They should work, but real life proved them wrong, at least for some people. Here we go:
1.Don’t Check Email First in the Morning. There is such a tip, because dealing with large email communication could compromise your entire morning. This can’t be a universal tip, since there are many industries, where people heavily rely on this communication.
Fix: Check your email, and don’t respond, unless it takes you less than a minute. Many enquiries require simple yes or no as an answer. Others, require deeper investigation or an elaborate reply. Deal with these later on. It is better to know what is going on in your mailbox than not to know.
2.Do the Hardest Task First. It might be ok approach in some cases, but you must carefully consider the resources needed for your hardest to-do. So, better leave it out of your productivity common tips list. Eating up a lot of energy and time in the beginning of the day could possibly ruin the whole day.
Fix: Warm up and boost your confidence and work capability. Start with smaller, easier steps. This brings you into a productive mode. Consider if these hard tasks could be solved with the “divide and conquer” approach – break a complex task into scheduled smaller tasks.
3.Make a Master To-Do List. This one might be good for general recaps of what needs to be done. But, having a huge and never ending list of tasks is overwhelming and counter-productive. It makes it difficult to focus on particular tasks and actually accomplish them.
Fix: Once you do the recap, rewrite the list to a manageable, doable tasks. Prioritise and schedule. Yet another example of the “divide and conquer” approach. Don’t mess the tasks in your work with otherwise important tasks related to your personal life. Keeping lists separate (work lists) will help you much better focus on particular tasks and aspects of your work.
4.Stop Multitasking. A really nice advice. Most of the people hate it. Switching back and forth between different tasks takes time and might be annoying. In fact, stress can push you being more productive. When a certain amount of work must be done in a short time your intelligence will help you out. What you need to consider is not to be constantly overwhelmed, avoiding burn-outs.
Fix: Burn outs could severely degrade your productivity in the long term. Complement tasks that could go along, thus saving time. Walking and listening, doing a routine task while initially researching something else is ok. Talking on phone and answering emails is not good, since you have to split your brain across two different channels of communication and mess things up.
Always judge advices and practices by yourself. Just because something is labeled as the best advice does not mean it is the best practice for you. Feel free to evaluate and adjust what yields the best results in your work.