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The way a lot of people approach their day, you’d think they were going out of their way to be miserable. They’re not. They’re doing the best they can. We all are.

None of us are quite at the level we want to be at. Whatever level we’re at, we’re trying to improve.

Sometimes, we don’t think we can do any better than we currently are. We try to learn a new productivity skill and a part of our brain rejects it. Taking the direct approach, our own subconscious can undermine our efforts. Sometimes, it helps to look at the problem from a different angle.

In that spirit, here are some common productivity tips turned inside-out. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! If you do any of these, you’re making things harder for yourself. If you do them all, you’re definitely going to set yourself up for a miserable day.


  • Snooze it or lose it. You’re not a plane getting launched off an aircraft carrier. Use the snooze to ease your way into the day.
  • Jump right in and wing it. Your job is too unpredictable to plan ahead. There’s no way to know what you’re going to need to work on. Time spent planning is just time you’re wasting; do something useful instead!
  • Keep your email app open. Check early, check often. You never know when something will come in that you need to jump on! Your commitment to the team will shine when they see you dutifully responding to emails around the clock.
  • Invite everyone you might possibly need to meetings. Nothing will wreck a productive meeting like having a question and the right person to answer it isn’t there. Invite everyone who has any relevant information so you can keep on going without interruption. Be sure all stakeholders at invited, too, so you don’t offend anyone for being left out.
  • Eat lunch at your desk. That’s another 20, 30, or even 60 minutes (jackpot!) of work you can get back. The boss is sure to notice how dedicated you are while everyone else is yakking away.
  • Accept nothing less than perfection. Keep going until you get it right! That’s the only way to make the right impression. Be sure to do everything yourself, because someone else will just screw it up.
  • Keep working up until the last minute. If you’re paid to be there until 5:00, keep working right up until 5:00. If you don’t, it’s like you’re stealing from your employer. You can wrap things up and wind down on your own time. Just drive a little faster on the way home to make up the time.
  • Squeeze in one more thing. You know that object lesson where Stephen Covey puts the big rocks in a bucket, then smaller rocks, then gravel, and finally water? The real lesson there is that no matter full you think your day is, you can always fit in one more thing. Stay up late if you need to—nobody really needs eight hours of sleep!

I don’t know about you, but my heart is up in my throat just reading that.

I have seen people do every one of those things. I’ve done every one of those things in the name of Productivity.

But that isn’t being productive. Productivity scales. Being busy doesn’t scale. You can always find ways to leverage your time through delegation (this is how and why companies grow). You can only squeeze 24 hours of busyness out of a day, and you’re going to be miserable doing it.

Question: What are you going to do to make today better than yesterday? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.