In today's busy world, we're constantly juggling endless personal and work obligations. There are tons of productivity hacks out there that promise to help you get more done in less time. Some of these tips might help you manage your to-do list, but not all of them work as prescribed.
To help you steer clear of ineffective productivity advice, we asked a group of entrepreneurs to share some popular hacks that aren't necessarily as useful as people say. Here are some "helpful" strategies you can safely ignore and what to do instead if you truly want to make more progress.
Multitasking on important tasks
Some productivity experts say multitasking should never happen, while others concede it can be helpful in certain circumstances. Abeer Raza, co-founder of TekRevol, is in the latter camp -- but notes that trying to do two important projects at once is detrimental.
"Multitasking is an important skill and helps in increasing the frequency at which work is completed, but it can compromise on quality," says Raza. "It's OK to multitask with major focus on important work and less focus on secondary work, but multitasking two important tasks can disrupt focus and thought processes."
Getting to 'inbox zero'
Some professionals try to clear out their entire email inbox each day to feel like they're on top of their task list. Aaron Schwartz, co-founder and president of Passport, believes it's important to prioritize the messages you get: Answering emails from strangers that won't ultimately help your business shouldn't get in the way of more pressing tasks just because you're trying to empty your inbox.
"Spend your time working on the projects that will actually move the needle on your business, and don't let third parties dictate your effort," Schwartz adds.
Taking frequent breaks
Productivity experts often tout the idea of working in short bursts and taking "micro-breaks" in between, instead of a full break. David Henzel, CEO of LTVplus, says this approach can actually make you less productive overall.
"It breaks up the workflow and forces our minds to readjust after shifting our attention away for a few minutes," he says.
Using productivity apps
Stephanie Wells, founder of Formidable Forms, notes that some apps that are meant to help improve your productivity can sometimes make you more distracted.
"It's fun to get on the app and lay out your tasks and set goals, but if you get too into planning, that's a waste of time," Wells explains. "A simple calendar or to-do list is best to quickly plan out your schedule and get things done."
Getting a head start on Sundays
If you spend your Sundays trying to "get ahead" for Monday morning, you might be doing the opposite, says Blair Thomas, co-founder of eMerchantBroker.
"Checking emails and looking at your schedule on Sundays gets you sucked in, likely disrupts the sleep you'll have that night and creates anxiety," he says.
Thomas adds that spending your Sundays relaxing will ultimately make you more productive than trying to get a head start.
Doing your hardest task first
You've likely heard that doing your hardest task first is the best way to ensure a productive day. However, Solomon Thimothy, president of OneIMS, points out that the hardest task is not always the most important one.
"By focusing on something that drains your resources and doesn't help you move further with your goal, you only get less productive," says Thimothy.
Waking up early
Getting up early and tackling tasks before the rest of the world is awake only makes sense if you're already a morning person, says Bryce Welker, CEO of Beat The CPA
"Not everyone is like this and they shouldn't try and force themselves into working this way," he says. "Additionally, early risers will experience diminishing returns if they wake up too early, so don't go overboard!"
Overpreparing for your day
Reuben Yonatan, founder and CEO of GetVoIP, says a lot of productivity hacks advise people to spend time each morning writing down their goals and purpose for the day. This may be helpful for some, he says, but it can easily become a time-wasting distraction.
"A great morning routine is key, but it should be simple," adds Yonatan. "Planning can go from productive to overwhelming very quickly."