Friday, August 12, 2022

Eight business leaders share their take on useless ‘productivity advice’

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Shreya Christina
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There is a lot of good business advice, but there is also an equally large amount of useless advice. While many people think they have the answers, you can only know what’s right for your business. However, it can sometimes be difficult for new entrepreneurs to know what advice is worth taking, leading to costly mistakes.

Below, eight Council for Young Entrepreneurs members each describe a piece of productivity advice they disagree with and why, instead offering alternative advice that they feel deserves more consideration.

1. One-size-fits-all advice doesn’t suit everyone

Personally, I can’t stand most one-size-fits-all advice. We are wired very differently regarding motivation and productivity, and this is especially true for leaders and entrepreneurs who exist to go against trends. My big break came when I stopped listening to specific advice. Instead, I started treating my productivity like meditation. I have a goal in mind that I am committed to. At any time, I am effectively working towards that goal or not. If I find that I am not, I carefully reduce myself and keep track of what has derailed me. I still get distracted, but I’m very good at catching and reorienting. This skill is much more important than how I keep my lists of goals and tasks. – Alex Furman, Invitation

2. Working on your hardest task first isn’t always the most efficient

Working on a difficult task means setting aside a lot of other tasks to complete the biggest (and possibly only) task you will complete that day. On the other hand, completing the most difficult task may mean completing smaller tasks that would actually lead to completing the difficult task. While it’s rewarding to finally get one big task done in a day, it can lead to procrastination, like giving excuses for doing nothing at all, knowing all you want to do is finish the one big project. Then you miss some details because you did everything in one go. It’s best to work on the most difficult task every day to see if you can add, correct or adjust anything. As you do that, you also need to find ways to handle other smaller tasks. – Daisy Jing, Banned

3. Work-life balance trumps old-fashioned norms

The pandemic and globalization have shown us that people can work very effectively outside the office and not always during the old nine to five hours. Employees with a better work-life balance will always outperform employees who are stressed and feel like they are working in a box. However, it requires flexibility, transparency and the right project management tools between the manager and the employee to do it correctly. – Andy Karuzac, NachoNacho

4. Outsourcing does not always save time

Outsourcing can be great for many tasks; however, I think the principle has been taken too far, as many entrepreneurs have absorbed the lessons of The 4-hour work week (where author Tim Ferriss advocates outsourcing as a primary strategy to build largely passive income). People who are starting out can waste money and compromise on quality if they try to outsource tasks that they don’t really understand themselves. An example might be someone trying to build an ecommerce empire by hiring “experts” on a site like Fiverr. You can get real value from freelancer sites; however, you must first thoroughly understand your own business model, which means putting in hours and learning the business. Outsource once you have a system. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

5. Learning to say ‘no’ is important, but so is negotiation

Learning to say “no” often can improve productivity. That is easy to say, but practically difficult. This productivity advice is all about saving time for more productive work by saying “no” to unnecessary tasks or people. But what if your boss wants last-minute project updates along with the client presentation you’re already late to? Or what if your spouse needs a little help with the housework? Saying no can get difficult here. Negotiate instead. Try schedule sync. Share your work schedule for the week with your boss and spouse and see how you can free up some free time outside of your daily professional work for any additional demands on your time. With this transparency, both are aware of your schedule and conditions and will be more careful not to get bogged down with extra demands. – Brian David Crane, Spread great ideas

6. Juggling a lot of tasks isn’t productive

I can’t stand the idea that you have to juggle a million things at once to be productive, because it’s just not true. You don’t have to do everything at once. In fact, trying to do too many things at once can lead to more errors and less productivity. I recommend time blocking, a concept where you spend a certain amount of time on one task and then move on to the next. This allows you to focus on one thing at a time and do it more efficiently. – Syed Balkan, WPBeginner

7. Getting up early doesn’t equal success

Get up early if you like to get up early and notice that your productivity increases. Don’t wake up early and think it’s going to make you a billion dollars. Understanding your rhythms and developing self-awareness is a big part of being an entrepreneur. In the press, there are many highly successful entrepreneurs who tout early rises as part of their success, but that’s not for everyone. Being your absolute best means knowing yourself and getting to know yourself. – Matthew Capala, Alphametric

8. Time is fleeting, so use it wisely

One productivity piece of advice I can’t stand is, “Take your time.” Time is something that we can never get back. If you waste time at work, it won’t come back. Instead, I would advise people to use their time wisely and focus on what matters most to them. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

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