By John Sonmez April 6, 2015

5 Ways to Destroy Your Productivity

Hey you.

Yeah, you.

Want to know how to absolutely and utterly destroy your productivity?

Good. You've come to the right place.

Being productive is overrated.

I mean really. What good does it get you?

The more work you get done, the more work you get asked to do.

So, here are a few quick tips that will help ensure that you remain exactly where you are in your career and never get anything done.

Tip 1: Allow for ample distractions

Right now while I'm writing this blog post, I'm checking Facebook, posting a few tweets on Twitter, having a conversation with my dog and running a half-marathon.
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I'm certainly not sitting here focused at my computer trying to block out everything else while I just write. That would be too efficient. I'd be at a high risk of getting this blog post done in a reasonable time and then I'd be tempted to write another one.

If you really want to make sure you drag out a task as long as possible, you gotta open up all those browser windows.

Seriously. Why do you think they invented tabs?

All modern browsers have tabs for a reason. It's because you're supposed to be constantly checking to see if someone posted a new “thug life” video on Facebook or if someone retweeted that clever—and oh so snarky—tweet you posted a few minutes ago.

Oh, and don't forget to turn your phone onto full blast stereophonic ring mode. If someone calls or texts you, it's a great excuse to take a break from the 2 minutes you spent working hard—you deserve it.

IM is also necessary. Try to be logged into as many instant messaging services as possible. I recommend Skype, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messaging and for all of you “old schoolers” out there, ICQ. (ICQ in the how-owse baby.)

Location is also critically important. Don't hide out in your cube or your office. Get out there in the wild. No one likes a recluse. Try to find a place with as many people as possible—and don't even think about putting on your headphones and listening to classical music.

You gotta be present man.

Be one with the universe. Feel the ebb and flow.

You gotta let it all in before you can let it all out.

Tip 2: Try to do more than one thing at a time

multitaskingMulti-tasking is the shiznick. Seriously.

You can pretend like you are getting a lot done, when you really aren't getting anything done at all.

There is no better way to crawl at a snail's pace than to multi-task like a boss.

Writing code and watching TV? ROCKSTAR!

Writing an email and chatting with a co-worker? Multi-tasking ninja!

You can even multi-task when it looks like you are focused.

Let me tell you the short-cut key that is going to really up your multi-tasking prowess “alt+tab” (or “command+tab” on a Mac.)

With this simple keystroke, you can switch back and forth between spreadsheets, IDEs, browser windows and anything you like, all at blazingly fast speed.

When you get really good you can develop a rhythm where you never stay focused on one task long enough to get anything done at all. You just switch windows all day. Isn't technology bliss?

Think about writing a line of code… alt+tab

Check your email… alt+tab

Rethink about that line of code… alt+tab

Oh, look a new email…

It's like you are Super Mario with an invincible star, slapping productivity right in the face and yelling “what now biatch?”

Tip 3: Work on a bunch of unimportant crap first

procrastinate

Do you know what happens when you sit at your desk and knock out the most important task first?

Do ya?

Ok, fine I'll tell you what happens.

You become a boring, little, brown-nosing, super-productive, lame-o, weasel.

Do you want to be a weasel?

Do you want to get promoted and get more important work to do?

Hellz no you don't.

So, why then why would you work on something important instead of immediately checking your email and Facebook first thing in the morning?

Productivity is all about getting first things done first… priorities man.

If you live like that you are going to be b-o-r-i-n-g.

The important stuff can wait. You've got a bunch of little, unimportant tasks you need to do that are way more fun.

Did you know there are people on the internet who are wrong?

No, seriously. They are wrong and they are posting to your newsfeed wrong stuff.

You gonna to stand back and let them be wrong? Ah hellz no you ain't.

You gotta comment on those posts. You gotta tell them they are wrong. You gotta share those funny cat videos.

That's the kind of stuff that gets ignored if you focus on working on the most important thing first.

That's the kind of stuff that you'll never get around to if you are too busy doing important work.

On your death bed, do you really think you are going to say “man, I wish I would have lived a more productive and fulfilling life?”

Heck no, you are going to say “I wish I would have shared more YouTube videos, commented on more political Facebook posts and answered a bunch of unimportant emails.” That is what life is all about. Those are the things that matter.

When you look back on your life, it is going to be mostly defined by how many internet arguments you won—trust me on this one.

Do the unimportant, easy stuff first and tackle the important work later.

Besides, sometimes when you just ignore work, it magically gets done.

When I leave my dishes on the table and my socks on the floor, do you think they just stay there?

No, a magical fairy takes care of it all while I am sleeping.

Ignoring problems often makes them go away.

Tip 4: Procrastinate like a pro

Programmer. Pro-grammer.

Are you a pro at grammer?

I ain't either.

But you know what I am a pro at?

Crastination.

That's right and you can be too. It's not hard and it's totally one of the best things you can do to roundhouse kick productivity right in the face. You can be the Chuck Norris of procrastination.

I'm going to teach you a secret phrase that has been passed down through the ages from master procrastinator to student procrastinator. (There was a period where the phrase was lost completely when the reining master procrastinator at the time died before he had actually gotten around to passing it down to his students, but eventually it was rediscovered.)

The phrase is “I'll do it later.”

Make this your mantra.

Live it. Breathe it.

When you sit down to work, take a deep breath, open up your IDE or document and then get right back up again, loudly proclaiming “I'll do it later.”

Guess what happens if you get something done before it's due?

You get to work on it more and make it better.

Do you want to work on things more? I don't. I'd much rather wait until the very last minute, do a half-ass job and claim it's not my fault because I ran out of time.

And that, my son, is why they call me a “pro” crastinator and not an amateur crastinator.

It's not nearly as difficult as it looks. In fact, once you get into the habit of procrastinating, you'll find it easier and easier.

After time, your default mode of operation will be to push things off until the last possible minute.

You'll never actually work unless you actually have to, and even then—if you are clever and committed to “the way”—you'll still find ways to avoid it.

I have to caution you though, many students of crastination have failed to achieve mastery and become true procrastinators, because they neglected a few important points.
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I've listed them here, so that you can avoid these same pitfalls:

  • Never start a task early. Always wait until the last minute.
  • When you sit down to work, don't work, do something else. There is always something else you can be doing that is much more fun than work. Trust your instincts, you'll find it.
  • The bigger the work seems, the more likely you'll be able to successfully procrastinate it. Try to make tasks as big and unsurmountable as possible. If you break them down, it'll be easy to get them done and your procrastination dreams will be dashed against the rocks of productivity.

Stay the course, my friend, and you too will find “the way.”

Tip 5: Require everything you do to be perfect

Some people see perfectionism as a weakness—I don't.

If you want to minimize your productivity and ensure you very rarely complete anything at all, you've got to strongly hold to the philosophy that if it isn't perfect, it isn't done.

In fact, just thinking about how perfectly a task needs to be done is a great deterrent from doing it at all. If you can manage to not do something at all, productivity is effectively completely destroyed—mission accomplished.

While other people are shipping garbage and “getting a lot done,” if you strive for perfectionism, you might not have any output at all, but at least you'll be 100% confident in everything you produce.

Contrary to popular belief, you deserve a gold star for spending hours agonizing over that algorithm– the one that already solves the problem you were trying to solve– trying to ink out just a little more performance or name the variables just right.

Premature optimization is not only your friend, but it is your constant companion, if are striving for perfection.

You'll often get bored with trying to make things perfect—and it takes a long time—so, no one will blame you if you move onto the next thing and never finish the first—you'll come back to it later.

Perfect code is 100 times better than so called “working code,” if you know what I mean. Some people have lower standards; you don't.

When faced with the choice between shipping something that isn't 100% perfect and missing a deadline, always miss the deadline.

The more deadlines you miss in your life, the less important they'll become to you, and once you become numb to deadlines it's like you're jumping from the top rope of the ring and elbow-dropping productivity right in the face!

Wa-bam son!

Killing your productivity is easy

I know these 5 tips might seem a bit overwhelming, but don't worry about it.

Once you start putting them into practice, they'll start to come automatically.

In fact, you probably already are doing several of these things and don't even know it. But don't worry about any of that– you can always figure it out tomorrow.

 

 

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."