Why Productivity Tips Can Be Bad For You

The Fall season brings back fond memories of grade school. Jump rope at recess twice a day. Scratch-and-sniff stickers (pizza anyone?). Yummy school lunches.

In fifth grade, Mrs. Conway conducted desk inspections every Friday. My school had wooden desks with the flip-top storage compartments. Our desks were grouped in pairs. My desk buddy was “Debbie.” Every week I peered into her desk and copied how she organized her belongings. Binder on left. Yellow pencils in tray. Hello Kitty eraser next to pencils. Debbie received an A+ every week. And every week, Mrs. Conway gave me an A or A-, never the A+ I longed for. After the desk inspections, I glanced over at Debbie’s desk. Looked back at mine. They appeared identical. Why did we never get the same grade?! Every. Single. Week.

Custom Solutions Are Best

That’s the same with productivity tools, tips, and techniques. My friend Brian loves Evernote. He raves about how efficient and organized he is because of Evernote. I tried it out. Meh. Another friend Christine swears by Marie Kondo’s organizing techniques; she even trained to be a certified Kondo disciple. I folded my t-shirts the Kondo method. Sure, I enjoyed a few sprinklings of sparkly joy, but nothing life-changing.

Copying other people’s techniques through books and videos (even mine) often works fine, but will only get you so far, or could be bad for you. For example, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, wakes at 3:45 a.m. to deal with email. How much sleep does he get? Is that what he REALLY wants to prioritize first thing in the morning? That’s like me waking up at 3:45 a.m. to sharpen all my pencils.

How About You?

What productivity hacks have you copied from a friend or coworker that just didn’t work for you? Maybe it’s time to create unique solutions tailored to your personality and working style. Ready to start? Let’s go.