Personal Productivity

10 Counter intuitive Ways to Increase Productivity without a Productivity App

wrote this on August 1, 2013
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Here, at the home of the IQTELL Productivity App, we struggle each day with a single question:

“How can we increase productivity among our users?”

We do battle on two fronts: improving the IQTELL Productivity App and educating about productivity.  In today’s post, I’ll focus the latter.

In our daily quest, we scan large amount of research, posts, tips and ideas…some of them make sense; others sound like something taken from one of Lewis Carroll books.

It’s common knowledge that not everyone shares common ground with what others consider as common sense.  We are constantly surprised to find cool new facts that affect productivity.

Some make more sense (in retrospect) than others.

Here are 10 counter intuitive ways to increase your productivity. (Our productivity app is just a bonus :)

#1 Sit a bit on the toilet seat

In my opinion, the most creative space in any building is the restroom. Answering nature’s call can be your most productive and creative part of the day.  The reason is simple; you zoom away from the chaos of your day, if only for a few minutes, and your mind starts to wander and we suddenly get slapped with wonderful and creative ideas.

#2 Remove scheduled tasks from your schedule

As a quick way to infuse your day with more time and productivity, begin your morning by asking these questions:

– What’s on my calendar?

– Should/Can I reschedule it?

Sounds obvious, but the logic behind it is deeper…If you choose to reschedule something; you are already improving your productivity.  By doing this mini-daily review, you are in essence ensuring that you are getting the right things done; as opposed to mindless crossing things off your list. Maybe you should move these items to your Someday List like David Allen suggests.

#3 Stop working mid-task or project and return to it later

Ernest Hemingway had a little productivity hack he liked to use to make progress.  He used to sit down and work on something only to abandon it mid-task.  He would then move onto his next task.

He boasted that this little trick is the reason behind why he never got a writer’s block and why his stories were always better on the next day when he returned to that task.  He attributed the success to his subconscious’ ability to process the task more creatively long after he temporarily abandoned it.

#4 Quitting is a good way to increase productivity

Some goals are impossible.  It’s only our perfectionism or pride that led to them in the first place.  It’s also those same human traits that keep us locked on them even if they will sink us.

When you quit something, you release your previously occupied resources; resources that that we’re held tight by the stress of the impossible goal.  Also, you get a wonderful shot of endorphins into your system causing you to be euphoric.

Although your intuition (which is currently serving as a tool in the hands of pride and perfectionism) tells you that you should never quit, sometimes it’s the smartest choice.

It’s ok to fail; some say that it’s even a must if you want to succeed. So quit, it’s ok; just make sure that you’re doing it as early as you can, the more you drag something the harder it is to let go of it.

#5 Ask and answer a lot of questions

Asking and answering questions in the office or anywhere, for that matter, is always a dilemma, why? Because human interaction is time consuming and you never know where those interactions are going to lead.

Eventually it’s all about time.  You always know when you start, but you’ll never know when it will end.  So, it may seem counter-intuitive to force yourself to get engaged with asking and answering a lot of questions.

Asking questions is the best way to get information; this information is in someone else’s domain and can potentially save you a lot of time. Answering questions is even better; you get to conduct a quick review of something you’re not working on at the moment.  In addition:

  • Distractions are excellent for your creativity.  If controlled, the pause helps your brain subconsciously process what you working on, and rejuvenates your creative juices.
  • Reviewing or teaching information makes you better at it and reduces the likelihood you’re missing on something.
  • Helping other people increases your productivity!

#6 When Working – avoid groups, even if you’re an extrovert

Remember that concept of brainstorming? All those slogans like there’s no ”i” in team and how team play wins the day? Well, apparently we’re much more productive and creative when left alone.

Here’s why…

In a team, there are always those who take charge and those who don’t, e.g., those that use the time to recharge for other activities i.e. freeloaders. Team members that don’t work hard and contribute slow everyone down. Add the fact that you are much slower when someone works on a task next to you and you’ll understand why epiphanies and work frenzies happen when there’s no one around.

#7 Work is really what you make of it

The way you perceive your work has a direct influence on your ability to perform it.

If you see your work as something you like to do, or god forbid – Fun?!?!

You’ll be more productive then you could imagine.

How you see work and recreation

(Image source

If you hate what you’re doing you should either get back in love with it or stop doing it altogether.  You can be easily be replaced by someone new (and they’ll probably be much more productive and creative than you at it.)

#8 Leave some decisions to the end of the day

Since we need all the will power in the world to tackle the really hard stuff, we better do it first thing in the morning. This way, we ensure we tackle the hardest task at our peak performance.

One might think that you need to leave the important decisions for the peak performance as well…wrong. The level of focus a decision takes from us is not nearly as high as the level of focus required to complete tasks which means that we can and should make decisions after peak time.

Increase productivity with IQTELL

#9 A slow routine is better than a quick fix

Don’t push away what’s on your plate due to tasks that are labeled ASAP!


ASAP tasks take a disproportionate chunk out of your day, costing you time and leaving you at the end with nothing to show for it.  When you work in a workspace that’s full of “incomings ASAPs” you are not able to produce “outgoing DONEs”.

Create a stable routine to deal with incoming tasks and schedule them with a definite time frame because ASAP may sound fast but it’s stability that gets things done.

#10 Clear is better than Creative

You may think that having all those ideas in your head works just fine for you because you’re the creative type.  Nothing can be further from the truth.

Being more productive has a lot to do with clutter or shall I say the lack of clutter.  The more clutter, the more likely you’ll never finish what you started.  Removing clutter from your thoughts as well as your desk is essential to your productivity.

There are two David Allen quotes that clarify why clutter must go: “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them” and “You can do anything, not everything”.

Mind clutter is friction, the more friction you’ve got the slower you are.

Until next time!

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I live and breath productivity. I'd like to invite you to check our Productivity App! In addition to the app, you'll join our productivity community and receive support from a team of productivity experts who love what they do! You can contact us on Google+ or on Twitter if you have any questions. As an FYI, we recently released an amazing feature that helps to process your emails quickly and effectively - we call it EZ Email processing.

4 responses to “10 Counter intuitive Ways to Increase Productivity without a Productivity App”

  1. some guy says:

    longer time on the porcelain throne has driven an increase in circulation problems doctors attribute to smartphones/tablets keeping people on there longer then they should

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