Productivity is hard to define, as it differs for every individual. Some professionals work better when deadlines near, while others are more efficient when they follow a strict schedule.
Because every person is unique, a productivity hack that revolutionized one person’s workflow might not necessarily help someone with a different work style. And some approaches only sound like good ideas but rarely bring about good returns. That’s why it’s important to take any “amazing” tips for staying productive with a grain of salt.
Below, 11 Young Entrepreneur Council members weighed in on the following question:
Q. What is one productivity hack that sounds good, but doesn’t work as well as advertised?
Here’s what they said:
1. Massive Checklists
Massive checklists are detrimental to productivity. Lists are all the rage from apps to Evernote and beyond. But then you become an efficiency machine and perhaps not an efficacy machine. Focus on one to three things that matter instead. Dominate those. – Codie Sanchez, Cresco Capital Partners
Multitasking is a myth that we fall for. Smartphones, social notifications, texts, emails, Slack, etc. make this so much worse. The cost of multitasking or, as I like to call it, context switching, is a detriment to overall productivity. Every time you focus on something new, even if only for a few seconds, you now have to spend a few more seconds getting back to your primary task. That adds up. – Michael Averto, ChannelApe
3. Inbox Optimization
In a world where “there’s an app for that!” is an auto-response to an entrepreneur’s dilemma, there also comes time for good old-fashioned logic. While apps with their inbox zero promises and boomerang functions keep you chained to email, sometimes it’s thinking outside the box that makes the difference, like picking up the phone and calling that client or offering to have a sit-down meeting. – Kim Kaupe, The Superfan Company
4. Early To Bed, Early To Rise
Getting good and restful sleep can now be considered a “productivity hack” because you need it to perform well when you’re awake. However, conventional sleep hours, which include going to sleep at a reasonable hour at night so you can wake up bright and early in the morning, don’t always work for everyone. Everyone has different works hours and hours of the day or night when they’re most productive. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source
5. Daily To-Do Lists
Maybe it’s just me, but I find a daily to-do list so restrictive. If you fall into this camp, look into creating a weekly checklist instead. What this does is give you more flexibility to complete all the tasks but in the order that you’re in the mood for at the moment. It allows you to go with the flow in terms of what you feel like doing, yet still makes sure you get everything done. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
6. Using Tech as a Quick Fix
Working in the SaaS industry, I love what many of these products and services can do, and they can significantly boost productivity — if you use them in the right way. The last point is important. Simply implementing these SaaS tools and leaving it alone will not work. You need to be proactive and learn how to maximize the value you gain from such technology. – Ismael Wrixen, FE International
7. Doing Your Most Important Task First
The “Eat That Frog” strategy advises to do your most important task first every day. This might work for some people but for many others, it doesn’t work at all. Many people need a little time to warm up in the morning and they do their best work later on in the day. Schedule your most important task for the time that’s best for you instead. – Blair Williams, MemberPress
8. Productivity Apps on Your Phone
There are exceptions to everything, but I have found that productivity apps on my phone are not worth the data they consume. At least for me, downloading and trying to use a productivity app is my way of distracting myself from being productive. Smartphones have changed the way we operate as humans, but this is one thing that has not caught on. – Adrien Schmidt, Bouquet.ai
9. Listening to Music
A lot of people say that listening to music while you work helps you focus and gets you pumped to get work done. But listening to music also can be really distracting. Listening to music with lyrics makes it hard to focus on work because you start listening to the words too much, and sometimes classical music or just background noise can be too relaxing for work-mode as well. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC
10. Daily Huddles
For more than a year, we implemented the “Daily Huddle,” but we didn’t experience the results we were looking for. Having 20 people give up 15 minutes per day, five days per week, we realized this was 25 “man hours” per week we were wasting. Our team communicates well already and we received pushback for interrupting everyone’s workflow at 10 a.m. local time. We’ve reduced to one huddle per week. – Matt Wilson, Under30Experiences
11. Avoiding Breaks
Productivity books and courses teach focus and attention to detail. This is paramount for success but inevitably shames all micro-breaks or downtime on a Friday night. While increasing productivity is a tough exercise, burning out has irreversible effects on your health and the probability your business can make it through. – Mario Peshev, DevriX
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.