Can You Scare Yourself into Being More Productive?

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I believe we’ve all been here — Stuck and wondering how we can increase our daily productivity at school, work or in some private project. Well, you’re not alone in this. I’ve been pondering over this question over the past few days so I decided to chat up some of my more “productive” friends and the good old google.

As you may have guessed the answers received were pretty standard:

-You need to have a source of motivation(said the guy with dreads).

-You have to eliminate distractions at all costs(Understandable considering he has a PhD).

-You need to set SMART goals(…err no comment).

This list continues to cover all matters innovation, having the ability to absorb data, effectively managing others and effective team work. All of these are well and good but a closer look can help you see how some of them won’t help with those spreadsheets you’ve been avoiding since 10 am(Although I see the appeal of team work on that one). Personally, here the headlines in this quest for more productivity:

PRODUCTIVITY is NOT the same as being BUSY.


The most effective methods turn out to be the simplest. Here are some verified methods that the most productive people have been found to have;

  1. Promotion Focus- By thinking of the completing the task as a means of being better off than you are right now you gain the incentive to actually do it despite the challenges.
  2. Prevention Focus- Sort of the reverse of the promotion focus. In this method, focus on the completing the task as a means of hanging on to the little you already have(We don’t want those grades to go below C now, do we?).
  3. Use if-then planning- decide in advance how you are going to accomplish the task, when and where you are going to do it in advance. In this way when the time comes, there are no deliberations that may just help you remember how boring the task is and all those reasons why you postponed it in the first place.

These strategies involve considering the consequences of success or failure at the task and planning ahead on what is needed to actually accomplish it. these three methods despite barely scratching the surface of what is needed to make fully productive days, present an effective approach to the subject.. I wish you happy trials, may the force be with you.

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