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Breaking Glass

Productivity, perfection and figuring out which helpful hints work for you

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I'm a big fan of the “pie chart” theory, of breaking down one's day into 24-hour segments to figure out how much time is left after getting ready, commuting, working, errands, chores and sleeping.

Me? I’m left with one hour.

So, of course, I have every productivity app out there; I’m an avid to-do lister; I have a travel planner, a work planner and a personal calendar.

Not saying that any of it really works that well…

But naturally, I was drawn to Her Agenda’s “productivity tips,” sweetly represented via an infographic practically tied up in a polka-dotted ribbon.

In the article, Her Agenda explains how we get in the way of ourselves by becoming “distracted by the desire to be perfect.”

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Now, I’m all for many of the helpful tips provided — and flabbergasted at others — but I have to say, I’m not so crazy about the choice of visuals.

Even the bombshell blondes of the world don’t wake up in the morning in a tight white three-quarter sleeved tee with smiles on their faces and their hair perfectly styled.

I mean, I would know.

But even aside from the poorly represented “iconic woman” — who, in all superficial meanings of the word, is already perfect — some of the tips provided also gave me pause.

I totally agree with sleeping in total darkness and drinking water before going to bed in order to help one wake up earlier; but planning an exciting breakfast takes time that I don’t have; scheduling my most important plans for the morning makes me anxious through the night; I can just throw a baseball across the room to shut off my alarm; and turning off my phone? It’s the only phone I have — what if there were an emergency?

And as an avid Second City-trained improviser myself, I absolute agree with the “Yes, and” principle in order to help one think faster — intuition and working with the first thought that comes to mind are often the best tools when starting a project.

But what is the “least effort” principle? Does that mean we’d be able to get more done in our day if we didn’t devote as much time or effort to everything? That’s not being productive — that’s being reckless and lazy.

And while I totally agree with writing a quick first draft and listening to music to help one work faster, studies have proven that having a clear desk can also be counterintuitive to creativity, and using a timer for projects simply creates more anxiety.

Oh, and “How to Have a Simple Life as an Entrepreneur”?

Ask any entrepreneur whether they would ever describe their day as “simple” and they’d laugh.

There is no way an entrepreneur has the ability to turn off their phone, and many of them cannot simply “move closer to where they want to be.” Millennials often do, but factors such as rent costs and transportation options often prohibit entrepreneurs from taking this option.

I’d say the best things I took from this infographic were the quotes from successful people on how they start their day.

President Barack Obama exercises: “I do it just to clear my head and relieve me of stress.” Makes sense.

Steve Jobs daydreamed: “Every morning I asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to today?’” This creates inspiration for change.

But the key thing this infographic is forgetting is what it seemed to set out to say in the first place.

No one is perfect.

Sometimes, you just have to accept that you work at your own pace and whatever you get done — you get done.

How’s that for a simple answer on how to be more productive?  


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