I've written my fair share of articles about productivity, time management and becoming more effective. Even so, there are at least five "productivity habits" that I've scrapped because they were huge wastes of time:
1. Writing To-Do Lists
Most collections of "productivity habits" suggest that you write down a list of tasks you need to accomplish each day.
I stopped writing these to-do lists because they kept me focused on details rather than on the big picture.
If I figured that if I can't remember to do something, it probably wasn't worth doing in the first place. I've discovered that's the usually the case.
2. Cleaning My Office
Professional organizers generally recommend clearing your desk of papers every day and starting with a clean slate.
Frankly, I can't be bothered. A few stacks of paper and some old coffee cups just don't aren't on my daily radar.
Yeah, I straighten out my work area every few weeks or so but, like Einstein, I'm perfectly happy working in a messy environment.
3. Listening to Motivational Tapes
Back in the day, I spent virtually every commute and workout session listening to recordings of motivational speakers.
After a while, though, I noticed they were all saying the same things often using the exact same words.
I'd have to be pretty dense if I couldn't get the gist after hearing something for the umpteenth time. Now I listen to cool podcasts.
4. Keeping Current with Voice Mail
Many productivity experts recommend that you check your voice mail once a day, take notes on each message and then schedule your response.
It's my opinion, though, that ALL voice mail is a huge waste of time. I have an outgoing message that says "email me if you want to contact me."
I listen to my voice mail messages about once a month. In the three years I've done this, I've never missed anything important.
5. Tracking My Time
If I've heard it once, I've heard it a million times: track your time and you'll know how to budget it better.
OMG, the last thing I want to do with my time is document it and segment it into sterile little packets.
I've learned that innovation emerges after I've spent plenty of time goofing off. Leave the bookkeeping to the accountants.