9 Truths About Productivity that You Need to Know

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9 Truths About Productivity that You Need to KnowDo you want to get more work done at the office on any given day?

Are you ready to have your most productive evening at home yet?

Before you roll up your sleeves and get down to business, there’s a thing or two you need to know about the mysterious world of productivity.

In this post, I offer a collection of nine honest truths about productivity.

Sure, these truths are far from being warm and fuzzy.

But, if you can understand and appreciate these truths, you’ll be in a better position overall to improve your productivity skills.

There will always be work to do.

No matter where you may live and no matter what job you may have, there will always be work to do. 

Those emails will need to be answered, the dishes will be need to washed and put away, and there will always be a to-do list hanging around.

If you respect this very important fact, you’ll be better able to manage your productivity over a long-term basis.

The more you produce, the more there will be to do.

Yup, just when you thought you were safe making headway on a project…why, there’s more to be done! This is an almost guaranteed truth that comes about like a chain reaction. The fact is simple: the more you produce, the more there will be to manage and maintain. I’m not trying to scare you here, but what are you interested in producing this day/this week/this month? Sometimes, it’s worth reevaluating your plans. 

The more you produce, the more others will expect you to produce.

Okay, I think we can chalk this one down to human nature. The more we see of something, the more we tend to expect. Others will see your cumulated work in a different way than you will. This isn’t earth-shattering news, but it is something to keep in the back of your mind. If anything, you may find it helpful to keep a written record of your work to see exactly what you completed over the course of a project.

Productivity means working smarter.

You don’t have to do things the hard way in order to get them done. Ever hear of the phrase, “Work smarter, not harder?” Where in your daily routines can you work a little bit more smarter? Why not start by creating a document template, appropriately organizing your workstation, decluttering your closet, or reorganizing your kitchen pantry?

Productivity means making mistakes.

It’s unfortunate that mistakes get such a bad rap. Sure, they are not the most pleasant thing to deal with when you are working on a project, but they are rare treasures in hindsight. Mistakes can help you figure out the best or optimal way to get things done. It’s worth taking a look at your past productivity mistakes. You’ve got quite a lot of valuable information at your fingertips. For example, in what ways could you work more efficiently? What defines satisfactory work? What effect did skipping breaks have on your work?

The right tools can help you be more productive.

From computers, to email, to planners, to apps, there’s tons of helpful work tools from which to choose. The only question is: are you using the right tools for your needs? Keep in mind, you don’t have to buy the most expensive or flashy tools to get the job done right, you just need the right tool for the job. Should you be using a paper planner instead of a digital planner? Are you weighing down your to-do list with unnecessary and redundant tasks? Do you use your email as a to-do list instead of an inbox?

Productivity isn’t just about you.

Remember, we all have to work together here on planet earth in order to get things done. We’re all connected; oftentimes more ways than one! That’s why it is so important to learn how to work well with others. This includes delegating work where necessary, holding carefully crafted and efficient meetings, managing a project with others in mind, and respecting other peoples’ time and assignments.

Breaks are good for your productivity.

It’s important to remember we are humans, not robots. We can’t (nor should we) work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s just not physically possible. Yes, there are times when you have to get up and work, but then there are those times when it is best to rest and recuperate. We literally have to recharge our minds, bodies, and spirits. I’m guessing you could probably benefit from a much-needed break. So, go ahead and take some R&R! Spend time with your family. Go on vacation. Take a block of personal time for yourself. You’ll feel better.

Productivity requires careful tending and tune-ups.

You wouldn’t leave a pot of food cooking on the stove unattended for days on end, would you? Of course you wouldn’t! In this same vein, productivity requires thoughtful observation and care. You can’t expect to be more productive without constantly reviewing your work and habits, beefing up your skills, and learning from your mistakes. Are you satisfied or unsatisfied with your productivity levels? What could you change, add, delete or improve upon?

How about you? Which of the above productivity truths ring true with you? Do you have any productivity truths or sayings of your own? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

A version of this post appeared on the blog in June 2012.

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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.