Although an elusive concept sometimes, many of us want to focus on being more “productive.” Being productive means that you get more done (and hopefully have more time for yourself and your interests) and can move forward with your goals. However, many productivity tips that you’ve heard probably aren’t that helpful.
Entrepreneurs are often eager to share what works for them (and what doesn’t). But there are many kinds of entrepreneurs and many kinds of work styles, so what is productive for some might not be as productive for you. We asked 10 entrepreneurs what tips they don’t care for and they had a lot to say!
Q. It seems as though there are hacks to make just about anything easier these days, but what’s one productivity tip that has failed to live up to its hype — or caused extra work — and why?
Their best answers are below:
Not Checking Email in the Morning
One of the worst tips is to not check emails first thing in the morning. Of course, checking and responding to emails right away can derail your entire morning plan, but it’s unavoidable in this fast-paced world. In some industries, you can’t just disconnect for a few hours without missing something major. The better practice is to peruse your emails for anything pressing and respond to any that require a simple response or that can be forwarded to someone else to handle. Hold off answering any of your messages that require thought and lengthy responses. This will prevent you from losing focus and sidetracking you from what you had planned that morning. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
It’s fine to have daily goals and to-do lists, but if you try to stick to them all the time, it can actually harm your productivity. I find that it’s better to be flexible and ready to shift gears when necessary. I might start off with a list, but if something new and more urgent comes in, I have to be ready to move my schedule around. You have to balance goals with flexibility. – Shawn Porat, Scorely
There is a pervasive myth that the most productive people work the longest hours. It is not true. The most productive people over the long term have a passion for their work, but they are smart enough to look after themselves. They get enough sleep, have a life outside of work, exercise, eat well, and, most importantly, understand when it’s time to put work aside to focus on something else. – Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.
One of the biggest myths and fallacies about productivity is multitasking. It has been proven that our brains are not wired to work on two or more tasks at once. This idea simply provides an illusion that you are doing more when in reality you are being less efficient. Instead of multitasking, prioritize what you need to accomplish and do one thing at a time. This will increase your efficiency. – Felipe Cornejo, Devsu LLC
Virtual assistants based on AI software (or outsourced assistants) are supposed to make life easier, but I found that because of a lack of proximity, it’s hard to get to the point where a VA can truly help you. You can’t rely on them for scheduling all of your meetings, nor should you blindly trust them with your credit card info (i.e. for booking travel), so they’re often not helpful or reliable. – Douglas Baldasare, ChargeItSpot
Push notifications alert us the minute an action occurs, such as when we receive an email or a Slack message. Although helpful, these notifications draw attention away from the task at hand, which causes us to lose focus and forces our brain to reset. Disabling push notifications or turning your phone on airplane mode can help you boost overall productivity by minimizing distractions. – Mark Krassner, Expectful
New Software Without Buy-in
There are a lot of software tools like ZenDesk, Trello, and Slack that are supposed to increase productivity in several areas including project management, customer service interactions, etc. However, if these are not adopted 100% by your team, then they may actually cause more hassle than help. Only use a tool if you’re going to properly use it and have 100% buy-in from the team. – Andy Karuza, FenSens
Breaks Every 20 Minutes
While I do advocate getting up and moving, I find that this is not a reasonable way to spend your time because many tasks need more attention than 20-minute increments. This includes phone calls and certain writing or brainstorming sessions. It’s better to finish a task as long as it doesn’t go over an hour before a break. – Serenity Gibbons, Calendar
‘Solutions’ that Don’t Solve
Ever implemented a solution that seems to create more problems than it solves? Me too. When you’re considering a new tool for your team, first and foremost, consider the adoption factor: Is it collaborative? Easy to use? Quick to implement? If the answer to all of these is ‘no,’ it will probably be an uphill battle to get your team onboard with the product — and beyond that, difficult to use it effectively. – Stan Garber, Scout RFP
Half the time, it doesn’t understand what I am saying. The other half, it sends me to a webpage where I can read about the question I am asking. It has its moments where it works out well, but for the most part, it doesn’t live up to the hype. – Adrien Schmidt, OpenBouquet
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.