January is that time of the year when most people are KonMari-ing their homes, downloading new productivity apps, buying new notebooks, starting new diets, paying for gym membership, and the like. I love January! It feels like a fresh start and it still has that cool breeze that makes me happy and energised. But I have been through many years and many Januaries enough to know that one fresh start a year is not enough. See, years ago, my productivity always waned towards the middle of the year. My New Year’s resolutions felt like they belonged to someone else. Then the next year, I would make a new set of resolutions and they will also fall through towards the middle of the year. And repeat.
Because I fell into that cycle so many times, I have also learned to identify the things that slowed me down, held me back, and contributed to my frequent back slides.
There are already so many articles written about how to increase productivity. This time, I’ll be sharing tips on how to have low productivity but still feel busy. haha I know. Crazy right? But I am a believer that when you identify a problem and really get to know it, it is the best way to start to fix it.
So here is my list of low productivity hacks! Some of these may be familiar to you:
- Download a “logic” game that is super addicting but since it is logic, it sharpens your brain too, you tell yourself. Open it for just one game and try to beat your high score just one last time. This is a great way to spend a few minutes, and if you are lucky, a few hours of not getting anything else done – Est. time: 5-10 minutes (if you keep to your one game), to a few hours
- Download lots of games on your phone. Try them out one by one. Set your high scores. Beat your high scores. Play with friends. Beat their high scores too. Life is a competition and you are always in it to win it.
- While in the middle of work, come across a person or a key word and decide to log on to social media to search for relevant results. Scroll down for just a few seconds. Get distracted by that cute baby, adorable dog, dog with his duck best friend, another conspiracy theory, thought-provoking article, and lots of memes. Open link in new tab. Again. And Again. You now have lots of open tabs and promptly forget what you were supposed to search for. – Est. time: the possibilities are endless
- Scroll through social media, find a friend / old crush / frenemy / hero / celebrity. Go to his / her profile. Scroll until his / her first post ever, while being super careful not to accidentally like any old post – Est. time: it depends if the person is new to social media and with only a few posts or a few public posts.
- See a polarising post / news / status message. Read all the comments. Nod and bask a bit in the feeling of validation when reading comments you agree with. Grit your teeth when you disagree with some comments. Label those who disagree as trolls. Yes of course, all of them. Think of something smart and scathing to say. Type those words. Decide that you may not have time or energy to get on an online argument. Delete what you already typed before you change your mind and actually post it – Est. time: 1-80 minutes. It depends on how fast you decide that this is not worth your time.
- See previous, do the exact same thing, except actually post your well thought-through arguments. Arguments continue. You are on edge for the rest of the day and excited to debate at the same time. – Est. time: could take 24 hours or more. You’ll have breaks in between but your mind will drift in and out of the online war zone
- Read an interesting article, see words you don’t understand or people you don’t know. Open new tab. Google those words and people. Read about all those too. – Est. time: 5 – 10000 minutes.
- Read an interesting article until the very end, get intrigued by the promoted articles with titles like “this will change the way you see your 4th grade teacher”. Click. Read until the end. Find another promoted article. – Est. Time: 5 – 10000 minutes
- Read a comment that either strongly resonates with your beliefs or strongly opposes your beliefs. Click on the profile of commenter. Check the public posts and photos. Make judgements. – Est. Time: this could take a while depends on how much you want to support your judgements with your so-called evidence taken from this person’s previous posts (like, is he / she a fan of “the Flat Earth Society”?)
- Do the same as previous. Repost with either a happy “SAME” or a super smart rebuttal that will honestly only convince (and comfort!) those who already resonate with you to begin with. – Est. Time: 5-15 mins to post, a few days of checking in every few minutes to check likes and comments
- Online shopping. You just need one item. You go on to an online marketplace, and find a really cute portable fan you don’t need. Add to cart. You see a cute neck pillow that you think you may need in the future. Add to cart. You decide that you don’t need all these after all. Remove from cart. Close tab. Realise that you still don’t have that one thing you need. Go back. Repeat. – Est. Time: 60 mins
- Go to Netflix to watch one movie / show. Scroll through endless possibilities. End up not watching anything or only watching the first few minutes of about 7 movies. Est. Time: depends on how many minutes you spend watching every movie, but the possibilities are endless!
- Think of the many reasons for your lapses in productivity. Write a blog about it. – Est. Time: 20 minutes – not bad!:)
So there you have it!:) lots of tips on how to not get anything done! haha I’m mostly poking fun at myself and my own lapses but if you can relate, well, at least you know you are not alone.
My productivity is often very high but when I get into these rabbit holes, it takes me a while to get out too. It happens. And it helps to recognize the triggers and the almost instinctive decisions that lead to lots of unproductive hours. I mean, I think most of these are okay in moderation! But having too much of these will feel like having too much junk food. You’ll feel bloated, but not nourished.
So for this 2019, as was the case for the past few years, I have learned to quickly identify my triggers towards these rabbit holes and avoid them before I fall in. This has helped a lot in keeping up with my resolutions and goals!
Another hack (a real productivity hack this time) that helps me is to program fresh starts every month instead of having just one fresh start a year. This helps me identify my gaps, reprogram small and concrete goals within a shorter timeline, and feel like I have a figurative new notebook that makes me excited to write again.
Happy 2019 and I wish you rest (the right kind that is truly nourishing), productivity, love, value-creation, good health, and prosperity (in many ways)!