By Erika Icon
YNOT – Entrepreneurs typically work endless hours and adopt crazy schedules. They’re driven to succeed.
Sometimes that drive can hinder productivity. Part of being productive is examining what works and what doesn’t work. Often, going “against the grain” and making changes to behaviors and processes that have become maladaptive is the key to getting even more work done in less time. What a concept!
Here are five habits you might want to reconsider.
Rhonda Byrne’s 2006 self-help book The Secret had a phenomenal effect on the contemporary landscape. Many other authors and gurus picked up the thread, which advises visualizing goals as though they’ve already been achieved. The theory is that positive thinking will lead to positive results.
However, a recent study by Gabriele Oettingen’s psych lab at New York University indicated that in practice, the theory may backfire. At first positive imagery can be inspirational, but over the long term the trick may convince the mind into relaxing because it thinks the hard work already is done.
Oettingen recommends the old-school method of writing down goals and facing difficulties as they arise instead of attempting to force the future into a mold that may not exist.
Being “on” 24/7
We make to-do lists and find other ways to fill our days. That’s human nature. But have you ever noticed your best ideas and/or solutions to dilemmas come when you’re in the shower?
There’s a reason for that phenomenon. For most folks, the shower represents a “safe zone” where they can’t be interrupted by people or technology. Occasionally unplugging, even withdrawing to the point of boredom, actually can make a person more productive. Distraction-free time allows the mind to breathe and connect with subconscious ideas.
Stepping away from the computer, the phone and other distractions can be not only refreshing, but also phenomenally rewarding. Give yourself permission to veg on the couch in a quiet room. Go for a walk without the iPod. For at least a few minutes, turn off your brain and let the world revolve without your involvement. You may be surprised by the results.
Obsessing about details
Checking website traffic, analyzing sales statistics, engaging social media contacts and perfecting search-engine rankings are important to every internet-based business, but when habits become obsessions, they also become maladaptive.
Comparing site rankings, Twitter followers, revenues and media coverage with the competition can lead to destructive insecurities. Worse, the amount of time spent doing “busy work” in an attempt to catch up with or pass competitors quickly turns into an enormous time sinkhole that swallows minutes, hours and days you could use to enact some of those ideas that came to you in the shower.
Most productivity experts recommend setting aside no more than 15 minutes a day to stat-checking, social networking, etc., and devoting the rest of your working hours to work that accomplishes demonstrable results.
Resolving not to fail
Failure sucks, but it’s a fact of life. The good news is, failures often lead to even bigger successes. How an individual or organization responds to failure makes all the difference.
In studies, those who adopted an “I’ll show them” attitude performed better on the rebound than those who allowed failure to discourage their efforts or end a project. Lady Gaga, for example, used rejection to fuel creativity. After rejections from a number of record labels, she looked into new musical influences and completely changed her sound to create a performance style that is uniquely hers. Millions of albums later, she’s a wealthy pop-music icon.
Every successful entrepreneur has failed at least once. Embrace the lessons when you fail and use them to make yourself and your projects stronger.
Working all the time
One of the great myths of entrepreneurship is that successful people don’t have time for personal lives. Consequently, people chasing a dream often work long hours, nights and weekends in order to ensure they don’t miss any opportunities.
Stop it. More often than not, the approach is counterproductive. While it’s true that “paying dues” is required for success, overworking can backfire, causing significant collateral damage that may be difficult or impossible to repair.
Humans need time to step away from work, rest and recharge. They need the companionship of other humans, and they need to engage in fun for fun’s sake. Despite the myth of the solitary entrepreneur who lives and breathes his work, increasing research data indicates those who cut back inhuman work schedules suffer fewer mental and physical health issues and actually become more productive. Cutting as little as one hour a week from an overloaded work schedule can result in a measurable productivity increase during the remaining working hours.