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The Limits of Self-Help Productivity Lit

Divided Attention

There are an endless number of distractions, attention sapping ‘urgent’ tasks and other requests for action (like an email) that sap our limited energy and willpower, filling our days with stress and unnecessary procedural work.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The Limits of Self-Help Productivity Lit

The Limits of Self-Help Productivity Lit

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/the-limits-of-self-help-productivity-lit/479382/

theatlantic.com

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Key Ideas

We Are On Our Own

In his self-help book "Smarter, Faster, Better", Charles Duhigg observes that we are now masters of our own time.

The onus to manage our time, attention, focus and priorities is on us. We are our own motivation, and have a variety of 'productivity' tools to fine-tune our managing, teamwork, decision-making and absorbion of information and data.

Divided Attention

There are an endless number of distractions, attention sapping ‘urgent’ tasks and other requests for action (like an email) that sap our limited energy and willpower, filling our days with stress and unnecessary procedural work.

Old Management Fads

... like the SMART(Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound) goals, which are taught in every management class, are themselves part of the problem, distracting us from any actual productivity towards the realization of the said goal.

Another example is ‘Stretch Goals’ which are so audacious that they start to demotivate and decrease confidence.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Measuring Employee Productivity
Measuring Employee Productivity

Fixing employee productivity in the industrial age, when most workers were handling machinery and it’s parts, was a tedious but doable process. The managers had to fix the people who were making mi...

The Old Productivity Formula

The basic productivity formula(productivity= output divided by input) worked well in the industrial age as the output and input were clearly defined and measurable.

Today’s leaders need innovative solutions to measure and improve productivity in a knowledge-based workplace, as the measurement of output and input is not what it was.

Quality And Quantity

While assigning value to the output of knowledge workers, we cannot simply measure the output like before.

Coders and doctors cannot be measured by the hour, as their output is not uniform or consistent every hour.

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Learning from others

  • Success leaves clues. That's why we can learn from the habits and methods of successful individuals. 
  • Failure does, too. So we can learn from past mistakes.&n...
Productivity tools to consider: 🗒
  • Create a schedule for your day and stick to it!
  • Chunk: Group like tasks together into blocks of time, then focus on those specifics. 
  • RPM: Short for Results-oriented/Purpose-driven/Massive Action Plan: a system to uncover what you want and then reap the rewards. 
  • Harness the power of habit and productivity will become second nature. 
Productivity defined

Being busy and always moving through tasks is not the same as being productive.

Productivity is getting the results you aim for with less time and effort. When you are productive, you won't be chasing deadlines or running behind schedule to get done. You'll probably be ahead of schedule.

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The concept of Inbox Zero

'Inbox Zero' is a concept introduced by Merlin Mann, a way to handle your email by processing them to zero.

This is achieved by taking appropriate actions like filing, noting or replying, to ...

The Quest for Personal Productivity

The never-ending quest for personal productivity has spawned countless apps on the Smartphone App stores, and many bestseller books.

Personal Productivity has branched out in the field of dating, hotel stays, parenting and even eating.

Problems With 'Inbox Zero'

The people who implemented the 'Inbox Zero; method ended up getting more emails as they were replying to all their emails, with increased activity.

They also paradoxically started checking the inbox more often.

The anxiety levels increased by applying hyper-productivity.

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About Procrastination

Everybody procrastinates, but it depends on the type of procrastination: harmless or harmful.

If we procrastinate doing a useful or informative activity that we find refreshing, or if we take...

Making Decisions

People take a break or procrastinate because they don't want to decide anything and let their brains drift away wherever it is comfortable, enjoyable and easy.

If someone is tired, the mind naturally moves away from what we perceive as work.

Simplified Habit Reversal Therapy

It is a way to be aware of what is sucking you into habits that are not rewarding to you.

Example: Facebook is designed to be easy to check, and one can find interesting things in it quickly, leading to procrastination and time-wasting to someone who is not aware.

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Productivity Obsession
Productivity Obsession

As workers, we are obsessed with getting stuff done. It is then clear why there seems to be a bottomless well full of advice, hacks, tools, tricks, and secrets to help us pack more into the waking ...

Modern History of Productivity
  • Adam Smith wrote in 1776 that there are two kinds of labor: productive and unproductive. The productive one generally adds value to the materials which he works upon, of his own maintenance, and his master's profit. However, a man grows poor by maintaining a multitude of menial servants who add to the value of nothing.
  • Benjamin Franklin put forth his own "to-do" list in 1791, stating that one should start the day asking what good shall be done and end the day evaluating what was accomplished.
Abuse Masked as Productivity

In the late 18th and early 19th century, during the Industrial Revolution, machines moved production from handmade in the home to factories. A frenzy of producing more goods more quickly became a kind of national pastime.

Low-wage factory workers, many of whom were children, toiled in unsafe conditions for decades before labor unions put measures in place to protect workers from the excesses of the push for productivity.

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Life hacking
Life hacking

Life hacking is defined as an approach to getting things done arising from “a systematizing mindset, willingness to experiment, and fondness for tech."

The idea of hacking life arose ...

Life hacking mentality

A series of trends are grouped under the rubric of life hacking, labeled "the Californian Ideology." It is a mix of cybernetics, free-market economics, and counter-culture libertarianism. It is very individualistic and distrustful of institutions.

Later on, the life hacking mentality showed up in seemingly unrelated phenomena as the pickup-artist scene. PUAs are a product of a subculture believing that all human activities can be "optimized" by applying systematic processes and formulae like workflows and algorithms. Life hackers started out analyzing and streamlining their to-do lists as well as their intimate relationships.

Life hacking is like self-help

Life hacking is a kind of American self-help. It was practical and evidence-based.

Getting Things Done or GTD, promoted the idea of breaking tasks down into pieces and sorting them by how much time they'll take to accomplish, then allocating reminders. The goal is to free you from a mental to-do list running in the back of your thoughts, making it possible to focus all your energy on a task.

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Willpower is Limited

Though companies like Nike try to ignite our willpower with their slogans, ultimately willpower cannot squash our subconscious and unconscious behavior.

Repetition of action and thought can m...

Knowledge is not Enough
Just merely knowing something is good or bad for you is not going to give you any benefit, unless the implementation is done. Conscious knowledge cannot change your behavior, one has to make necessary changes to successfully act in self-control.

If you know that you will eat junk food because your refrigerator is filled with it, remove all the junk food.

Friction

Just as removing friction aids in doing the activity more often, adding friction can aid to remove the bad habit, by making it difficult or cumbersome to do so.

Example: Cigarette smoking declined due to adding taxes, banning in public places and removing from vending machines.

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Time Management Is Not A Solution
Time Management Is Not A Solution

Most people want more done during the course of the day, feeling productive if they have checked more boxes out of their to-do list. Time management has been a fad for a long time, equating product...

Attention Management

Shifting our focus towards people and projects, rather than the time it takes for us to work on something is referred to as Attention Management.

Productivity is not a virtue, but just a means to an end, and it means nothing if the end is not worthy. Paying attention to your intrinsic motivation, on why you are excited about the project will make you push yourself naturally and achieve the goal.

Lack Of Distractions Promotes Productivity

Many studies show that bad weather days when it is too cold or rainy, keeps the working people glued to their work, being more productive as they are less distracted by the thought of going outside.

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Stop Reacting

Don’t check your email or anything else that is going to dictate your behavior.

If you start your day by checking and replying to emails, it means you'll just react as new things come ...

The Things That Matter Most

Most of us get 80% of results from 20% of the work we do. So focus on that 20%.

Don’t be vague. Specify what you need to get done - research shows that having concrete goals is correlated with huge increases in confidence and feelings of control.

Use Your “Magic Hours” Wisely

You have 2-2.5 hours of peak productivity every day. You may actually be 30% more effective at that time. For most of us, this happens in the morning.

Those are the hours when you should be working on your main goals. Why would you want to waste that on a conference call or a staff meeting?

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Paradox of Choice
Paradox of Choice
It means that while increased choice allows us to achieve objectively better results, it also leads to greater anxiety, indecision, paralysis, and dissatisfaction.
Overthinking lowers your performance

Our working memory is what allows us to focus on the information we need to get things done at the moment we’re doing them. It is also in limited supply. You can think of it like our brain’s computer memory. Once it’s used up, nothing more can fit in.

When you overanalyze a situation, the repetitive thoughts, anxiety, and self-doubt decrease the amount of working memory you have available to complete challenging tasks, causing your productivity to plummet.

Overthinking kills your creativity

A recent Stanford study suggests that over-thinking not only impedes our ability to perform cognitive tasks but keeps us from reaching our creative potential as well.

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