Whilst looking on the web for some pointers on how to be more efficient at work, I came across this diagram. It appears reasonable enough–illustrating some valid tools with which to become more ‘productive,’ it even comes across as relatively simple. But the devil’s advocate in me is just dying to say that nothing is ‘simple,’ and the simplicity this article suggests is really just a homogenous, mundane lifestyle. My snarky inner lazy person is tempted to scoff at these, dare I say ‘Type A’ type characteristics. Here are the first thoughts to enter my head when I read some of the following tips to productivity. Hopefully you will be just as entertained as me by my pithy replies.
Limit emails replies to one per minute: Agreed it will save time, but will your co-workers start to question your acumen when you repeatedly send shoddy emails with multiple typos because you didn’t take the time to care?
If you can’t understand what an email asks, don’t answer: How is this going to save time when you have to either field a string of follow up emails asking the same vague question or taking the inevitable 10 minutes it’ll take to have an actual conversation with the person when they finally track you down for a vague answer? My advice; email them quickly (under a minute) to clarify their query.
Tune out the news. Nothing important happens, most of the time: All fine and good, but how silly are you going to seem when the colleague at the printer is talking about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed issuing his ‘nonviolence’ manifesto and you still think Osama Bin Laden is alive.
Do not answer the phone unless it’s a true emergency. (Emergencies are rare): Tell THAT to a 14 year old girl, totes M’Gotes, OMG, like EVERYTHING is an emergency, and I literally DIED when he looked at me.
Use keyboard shortcuts: Now this one I can get behind. But only really because I feel like a tech maven when I pull out my fancy shortcuts in front of tech-impaired people, not because it really does take less time to cut and paste using a mouse.
Define your fashion uniform. Wear it daily: Really? Is what I think. Uniform sounds so New World Order. I get most of my creative ideas (not to mention exercise) by trying to beat the clock while piecing together the perfect outfit to match my mood. I am a girl, after all. Does ‘productive’ have to be ‘boring?’
Wear smart fabrics: Why, do smart fabrics make you smarter?
If you have a mind block, make a mind map: What happens if you get lost in the mind map and you don’t have GPS? And what is a mind map anyway?
Assume you are right, when in doubt. Decisive is productive: See below under schedule to get my opinion on decisiveness.
When you read something helpful, write to the author: Huh? Again, aren’t we trying to get more productive? What’s productive about a fan letter.
Sleep more, you will get more done: Yes, valid point. Unless of course you are sleeping more under your desk.
Prioritize one item per day: Sounds like a plan.. unless your one item on a particular day is to rule the world.
No meetings unless they are decisive: Decisiveness can be overrated. Business should be treated creatively… like a canvas that can and will be painted over and over again, with a final ‘decisive’ outcome. If every meeting was decisive, very little creativity would be fostered to the detriment of the brand or product. Creativity may not culminate in ‘productivity’ as society defines it, but the end result will trump decisive meetings.
Better done than perfect: I would have to disagree. There is a reason some companies excel and thrive while others stay average. The reason some companies languish in mediocrity is because they practice this mediocre rule of productivity.
Take naps when energy runs low: Now, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see what’s so productive about taking a nap.
Routinize your diet: I’d say that most people already routinize their diets, as we are creatures of habit. Why not throw a little delicious curve into your ‘productive’ day and make or buy unusual or exotic foods. I mean, all of these other tools for productivity are bound to make Jack a dull boy, right? Live a little.
Eat healthy food: Ya, no-brainer, right? Not sure how much more productive this will make you, plus it’s in stark contrast to the next tip.
Get delivery to save time: Is there such a thing as ‘healthy’ delivered food, come on.
Negotiate a daily deal with your trusted cafe: I sense a trend, it seems these tips assume we are all boring, personality-less drones who will do anything it takes to meet the bottom line. Who would want to go to the same cafe every day (this spoken by someone who spends way too much time and money at Whole Pay Check, I mean Whole Foods)?
Eliminate trivial decisions, like what to wear: I’m really starting to think this female-written diagram is geared towards people who are NOT female. Dressing is not trivial. End of story.
Learn to ignore. No need to respond to everything: Just make sure you respond when your supervisor wants to know why your fabrics are so smart but you’re sleeping on the job.
Of course, all but the most Type A of us would certainly use this diagram as a broad ‘guideline’ anyhow, but I pity the fool who actually decided this is the bible of success. As we all know, success is relative and one person’s Facebook is another one’s My______ (or whatever it’s called these days), and different things work for different people in this fuzzy world.
I think there are valid and useful suggestions out there that DO work, read this from an admitted hater of GTD (Getting Things Done, book by David Allen.)
Here’s another work/life balance post with a bunch of ideas to stay productive while actually having a life.
I will end this blog here, as I really must go fluff the pillow under my desk.
Written by Toddy Walters, HR Generalist