31 Myths About Productivity Debunked by Experts

 

Get up earlier, sleep longer, work from home, never work from your bedroom, get more exercise, stop procrastinating – every piece of advice on productivity at work seems to contradict another pearl of wisdom. 

So what’s actually the answer? Is there one single answer to the question of how to be more productive, or is the answer different for each individual? 

Avansas is here to banish some of the myths around what it means to be productive in the modern workplace… 

  1. Multitasking is inherently bad Myth 

It’s true that, for some people, doing several things at once can distract them and worsen their performance overall. However, everybody is different, and there are certainly folks out there who thrive under pressure and stimulation. 

  1. The early bird gets the worm Myth 

If we’re talking about nabbing the best sun loungers on holiday, then, yes, getting up early is an excellent and necessary trait. Elsewhere, however, not so much. People’s body clocks run on different rhythms. Some of us are more productive in the morning, some in the evening. Each to their own. 

sleeping alarm clock
  1. The best way to beat a slump is to take a break Mostly myth 

If you’ve found yourself lacking enthusiasm or creativity in your profession, taking a break can help, yes. It’s what you do with this break, however, that will determine whether or not you beat the slump. Reading, long walks, exploring new places, learning new skills, taking up hobbies – all of these will inspire you, and encourage new neural pathways within the brain which can jumpstart creativity. Spending a week off work watching daytime TV and eating Hula Hoops, on the other hand, will not. 

  1. Get the hard work out of the way first Myth 

Again, everybody is different. For some of us, starting with the most difficult can be effective. For others, it’s a matter of building up to the largest task, gaining momentum by completing smaller ones first. This is a great way to build your confidence, too. 

  1. Being productive means getting everything done Myth 

There are only so many hours in a day, and, whether you like it or not, sooner or later the sun is going to set. Being productive means making progress; it doesn’t mean completing everything all at once. Even if you’re inching ahead at a snail’s pace, you’re still moving forward, and that’s something to take pride in. Many people never move forward at all. 

  1. Copy the habits of highly successful people Myth 

There are a hundred thousand factors in success, and try as you might, you’ll never be able to emulate the same success of those you admire or aspire to be like. Their personalities are different from yours, their circles of friends are different from yours, their environments and their childhoods are different from yours. Focus on being the best version of yourself, rather than anybody else. 

  1. Maximize every moment of your day Myth 

The ‘rise and grind’ mentality leads inevitably to burnout and poor choices. Making the most of the time we are given is important; however, ‘making the most of our time’ doesn’t simply refer to moneymaking. Time for family, friends, and physical and mental health is invaluable. 

  1. Set big goals Mostly myth 

Yes, set big goals. Set gigantic, ridiculous goals. Then break them down into steps, then break those steps into tiny, micro-goals which are laughably easy. Tick them off one by one, and watch those big steps and giant dreams loom ever nearer. 

  1. Optimize your productivity apps and systems Mostly myth 

If you’re of a generation raised using pen and paper, productivity apps won’t necessarily increase your output. They might even slow it down, in fact. Instead of believing every inspirational app advert touting the next big time-saver, go about each working day mindfully, observing when you daydream, when you feel uninspired, when you slack off, and when you hop to it and produce your best work. Then build your schedule around these observations. 

  1. Use rewards True 

Rewards are great. We’re not suggesting, of course, that you shower yourself in gifts every time you send an email; you should match rewards to the size of the tasks completed. Hit a difficult deadline after a long week? Take yourself out for a meal with friends. Send a tricky report in good time? Reward yourself with a Hobnob and a walk around the park. In this way, you build positive associations within your brain. Hard work + time = lovely lovely biscuits

  1. Willpower is finite True 

Nobody’s willpower is infinite. Every great leader throughout history has struggled and strived and experienced moments of defeat, weakness or foolishness. Fluctuations in willpower are about as human as it gets. 

  1. Visualize achieving your goal True 

In order to succeed, you’re going to have to will into existence something that does not yet exist. That takes a lot of imagination – so get practising. 

  1. Stay busy Myth 

We all need a little down time every now and then. Even Superman had his Fortress of Solitude. 

  1. An uncompromising regimen will keep you productive Myth 

Hard pass. An uncompromising regimen will cost you a lot of joy in the long run, which will ultimately decrease your productivity and urge to succeed and grow. Never be afraid to ditch the gym in favour of dinner with loved ones. 

  1. Do all critical tasks at the end of the day Myth 

Presumably the logic behind this one is that by cramming all crucial deadlines into the last few hours of the day, you’ll be driven to work like a madman. This is… kind of silly. Logically it makes far more sense to perform crucial tasks at the beginning of the day – therefore if there are any blockers of hinderances, you’ve time to address them. 

  1. Higher productivity means more time spent at work Myth 

There are dozens of studies into this, and they all seem to reach the same conclusion: nope. People tend to draw out the amount of work they have to fill the time they’re given. Remember doing your homework as a child when it was sunny outside? You’d get through it in ten minutes. On rainy days it’d take two hours. It’s all about motivation, not timescales. 

  1. Working from the office is more productive Myth 

This one’s pretty easy to debunk. If the last year and a half has shown us anything, it’s that some people work better in the office, and some people work better from home. Some like a combination of the two. There are plenty of studies to back this up, too! 

  1. Working under pressure increases productivity Myth 

This myth is the cause of a lot of animosity in the workplace. Some of us believe that applying pressure is the best way to get the maximum effort from our team. These people usually believe this because that’s how they operate. In reality, everybody is different, and, for a great many people, a stress-free environment is infinitely more conducive to creativity. 

  1. Doing everything by yourself makes you productive Myth 

If Isambard Kingdom Brunel had endeavoured to build the Clifton Suspension Bridge all on his own, there’d be no statues of him; he’d still be there today, lugging girders around in his stovepipe hat. 

  1. Sleep is for lazy people and not for productivity seekers Myth 

The ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ crowd has a shock headed their way: they’ll be taking that nap a lot sooner than the rest of us. There are plenty of books written on the subject of sleep and how absolutely crucial it is for our mental and physical health. Getting your eight hours a night is one of the best things you can do for both your body and your career. 

  1. Setting a daily work routine is a waste of time Myth 

Routine helps us form healthy habits. While it’s inadvisable to stick too strictly to a routine, having some form to your days will certainly help you hit targets and be productive. 

to do list
  1. An attractive salary increases productivity Mostly myth 

Some professions, such as nursing and teaching, require extremely high levels of energy and determination, without much in the way of monetary rewards. Earning a higher salary may help in the short term with productivity, but there are far more important factors at play, such as believing in your work. 

  1. Healthy diet has no contribution in productivity Myth 

Eating a nutrient-rich and varied diet gives you energy and keeps you healthy. Eating fast food every day, on the other hand, will leave you feeling sluggish and foggy-headed. 

  1. Helping others will make you productive Mostly True 

While spending your entire day helping others may not help your productivity (unless you’re a nurse and that’s literally your job), it’s fair to say that helping your team with their work can make your own work easier in the long run, thereby increasing your output. 

  1. Meditation cannot boost productivity Myth 

Meditation certainly can boost productivity. Through emptying your mind of worries and stresses, your true priorities can emerge in a logical order, allowing you to deal with them in a calm and efficient fashion, rather than sprinting around putting out fires (again – unless you’re employed as a firefighter). 

  1. Team bonding activities only work in-person Myth 

If people can date, play video games and collaborate on songs remotely, you can be sure they’re able to bond remotely too. 

  1. Managers don’t need special training for managing hybrid teams Mostly myth 

Moving from managing an in-office team to a hybrid team isn’t an insurmountable task. However, some special training to aid in things like smoothing over meetings and finding the best tools for collaboration will always be useful. 

  1. Hybrid work models are too complicated to be effective Myth 

Part of the office working remotely, and part of the office working in the office? It doesn’t have to be complicated at all, with the right tools and training – plus plenty of enthusiasm from the team. 

  1. Remote workers need to always be online/available the same time as in-person colleagues Mostly myth 

What works best is to set core hours for your business – times when everybody is available for important meetings. Realistically, there are plenty of meetings your remote workers don’t necessarily need to be a party to. For crucial meetings, however, it’s reasonable to request their attendance, even if there is a large time difference and they need to burn the midnight oil. Just make sure the meeting is worth their time! 

  1. Those who want to remain remote full-time are anti-social introverts who are not committed to the culture of their organizations Myth 

People get their energy from different places. Extroverts enjoy social interaction, and it gives them energy. Introverts enjoy social interaction too, but find it draining. With this in mind, it’s perfectly logical that some people should prefer working in an environment where they are most energised, whether that’s at home or in the office. 

In addition, there is a lot of variation in the kind of work people may be doing. For solo projects, it’s reasonable to assume that the quiet of working from home would be more productive than being in the office. For roles more based around discussion and collaboration, the office may be preferable. 

  1. Collaboration and innovation are better done in person Mostly myth 

While there is a real joy in working shoulder to shoulder with a colleague on a project, that’s not to say the quality of the work would be any better or worse if those shoulders were pixelated! 

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