11 Popular Productivity Hacks (And Why They’re Overrated)

These days it seems like every working professional is trying to hack their productivity. From multitasking to juggling more work adeptly, these productivity hacks claim that they can help individuals do more in a shorter span of time. For many business owners who are strapped for time, these hacks seem like the perfect solution.

However, many of them aren’t worth the time that someone may dedicate to them. While these hacks work fine in theory, their effectiveness levels vary from individual to individual. Below, 11 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council discuss several popular productivity hacks that they personally find highly overrated.

Q: What’s one popular productivity hack you think is overrated, and why?

1. Multitasking

As business leaders, we often get tugged in every direction because everyone needs our attention. Whether it be with operations, marketing, sales, or HR, focus is more essential for a business leader in order to get things done with quality. If you multitask, you compromise the quality of your work and the output of the team. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

2. Goal Setting

The first thing that any book or teacher on personal development and leadership tells you is that you need to set goals. This is usually great advice for many people and many reasons. However, having goals that are too specific can keep you from developing more creative ways to achieve overarching objectives. Keep your goal posts fluid to allow for more creativity. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

3. Reading About It

A popular productivity hack I’ve heard about is reading about productivity so you can achieve better habits. While this is a good idea, it’s not the quick-fix solution that many people are looking for. It takes time to digest and comprehend the material you read, so if you want a hack right now, reading a novel is going to have to wait. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

4. Planning Your Day The Night Before

I think planning your day the night before is often a waste of time. Not only do plans change quickly and force you to abandon the perfect day you idealized the night prior, but I also find that starting the day with an early-morning day-planning session provides a good, optimistic start to the day. I save my nighttime journaling for reflecting on the day gone by. – Amine Rahal, IronMonk Solutions

5. Small Habit Changes

I’ve heard colleagues suggest that the key to being productive is to make small changes to your habits. I think this is an effective technique for minor changes. But the truth is, drastic shifts in productivity usually require extensive changes to be effective. – John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

6. Walking Away

I was always told by other professionals that sometimes you have to walk away and come back to a project when you’re feeling more productive. The thing is, if you’re avoiding a task due to a specific issue, taking a break will only make things worse. It’s important to assess each situation before you try to step away to improve your productivity. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC

7. The Pomodoro Technique

I can’t tell you how many people have suggested the Pomodoro Technique for my issues with focusing. At first, I thought it was a great idea. After some experimenting, I found that my focus shifted to the time instead of my work, which actually resulted in me getting less done. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

8. Creating To-Do Lists

Creating to-do lists is a much-recommended productivity hack that’s not practical or helpful for many people. One reason why to-do lists don’t work is that they aren’t time-bound. Plus, when you create a long list, you feel overwhelmed rather than organized. Some people do better with less structure and when they’re allowed to go with the flow. If to-do lists don’t work, don’t use them. – Blair Williams, MemberPress

9. Time Blocking and Time Batching

Most successful entrepreneurs are wildly creative yet independent, and forcing yourself into a box where you feel like you need to produce X result at Y time will severely diminish that creative genius and, as a result, your work might feel forced. We’re successful for a reason — because we get things done, no matter the time of day! – Jenn Cino, fit. period.

10. Doing Difficult Tasks First

Completing the difficult tasks first is one overrated hack that people often come across. Instead of doing that, I think it’s easier for some people to start with the easier tasks first. This helps them set the stage for the more difficult ones. Also, by working on the complex tasks first, they might exhaust themselves and become too stressed out for the rest of the day. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

11. Waking Up Extremely Early

There’s nothing magic about five a.m. that makes someone work harder. For people like me, staying up late into the night at your desk is a more productive strategy. It all comes down to personal preferences and when your mind feels most “in tune” to work. – Tyler Gallagher, Regal Assets

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.

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