Working harder may not always be the right path to insane productivity. There’s a clear difference between being busy and being productive. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being productive.

The search for a more productive workday has led to a certain misconception about what productivity really is — and it’s a lot more than checking tasks off your to-do list. Truly productive people aren’t focused on doing more things.

1. Stop working overtime 

Do you know where the 40-hour work week came from? In 1926, Henry Ford, American industrialist and founder of Ford Motor Company, conducted experiments with interesting results: when you decrease your daily working hours from 10 to 8, and shorten the work week from 6 days to 5, your productivity increases.

The more you work, the less effective and productive you are going to become over both short and long-term. “Scheduled Overtime Effect on Construction Projects”, a report issued by The Business Roundtable in 1980 states.

“Where a work schedule of 60 or more hours per week is continued longer than about two months, the cumulative effect of decreased productivity will cause a delay in the completion date beyond that which could have been realized with the same crew size on a 40-hour week.”

In an article for AlterNet, editor Sara Robinson referenced research conducted by the US military that revealed that “losing one hour of sleep per night for a week will cause a level of cognitive degradation equivalent to a .10 blood alcohol level.”

2. Stop saying “yes” to tasks that bring low or almost no result.

The 80/20 principle can change your life. According to the Pareto Principle, 20% of the effort produce 80% of the results; however, 20% of the results consumes 80% of the effort. Instead of working harder, we should focus primarily on those efforts that produce 80% of the results and forgo the rest. We will have more time to focus on the most important tasks.

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say “no” to almost everything.” — Warren Buffet.

Most of us say yes more often than we should because it is so much easier than saying no. Nobody wants to be the bad guy, but you will be better off with a much controlled schedule.

3. Stop being a perfectionist.

“We found that perfectionism trips up professors on the way to research productivity. The more perfectionistic the professor, the less productive they are,” Dr. Simon Sherry, a Dalhousie University Psychology Professor who conducted a study on perfectionism and productivity, tells University Affairs magazine. Dr. Sherry found a robust correlation between increased perfectionism and decreased productivity.

Here are some problems associated with being a perfectionist:

1. They spend more time than required on a task.
2. They procrastinate and wait for the perfect moment. In business, if it is the perfect moment, you are too late.
3. They miss the big picture while being too focused on small things.

4. Stop doing repetitive tasks and start automating them.

According to a research study conducted by Tethys Solutions, A team of 5 people who spent 3%, 20%, 25%, 30% and 70% of their time on repetitive tasks respectively reduced this time to 3%, 10%, 15%, 15% and 10% after 2 months of enhancing their productivity.

Most of your everyday tasks can be automated or done better with productivity apps. You can save time and concentrate on your most important work whilst great productive

5. Stop doing everything  yourself.

Stop trying to do everything yourself, you will burn out at some point (and that is not what you want to do). It’s important to seek help when needed. You cannot do everything yourself. It is better for you to let someone who can do a better job take over some of your tasks. Instead of wasting time trying to figure everything out yourself, let the experts help you.

If your insist on doing most of your tasks yourself, ask a friend to keep you company to boost your productivity. “There’s a concept in ADHD treatment called the ‘body double,’ ” says David Nowell, Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist from Worcester, Massachusetts. “Distractable people get more done when there is someone else there, even if he isn’t coaching or assisting them.” If you’re facing a task that is dull or difficult, get a friend to be your body double.

6. Cut your to-do list in half.

Getting things done during your workday shouldn’t mean fitting in doing as much as possible in the sanctioned eight hours. Do you really need those 30 tasks on your to-do list? Take a less-is-more approach to your to-do list by only focusing on accomplishing things that matter.

7. Stop multi-tasking.

Stop trying to do 10 things at once! Changing tasks more than 10 times a day drops your IQ an average of 10 points. Get things done more effectively and efficiently by focusing on one task at a time.

What do you do to stay productive everyday?


  1. The perfectionist in me means I am NEVER satisfied with my work, but the human in me is far from perfect…so I definitely lose time to the perfectionism myth. However, it does help to put a timeframe around each task when possible so that there is a firm stopping point when I have to turn off the quest to make it even better.

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