Why Productivity Hacks Fail and Just Doing It

Let’s talk about being productive and learn how to actually get things done instead of trying shortcuts or “productivity hacks”. There have been countless articles on how to hack your way to becoming one of the productivity elite. The real secret is much simpler, but more on that in a second.

I’m sure you’ve read a few post with such titles as “8 Hacks To A More Productive Day” and “The Ultimate Hack To Being Productive“. Do you want to know why those posts rarely live up to the expectation? It’s because the titles are usually more link-bait than representative of what the post is really about and most of the time people are just searching for the answer rather than taking time to reassess the question.

The real secret to being productive is simple and here’s what it looks like:

  1. Sit down
  2. Set a to-do in your task manager of choice
  3. Just do it (also known as JDI)

Now let me explain how to actually go about putting those steps into practice.

JDI explained: The phrase I use most often is a slight changing of a phrase Adii Pienaar uses a lot. He uses JFDI (Just Fucking Do It). I use JDI (Just Do It).

Stop productivity hacks: 3 steps to getting things done

You might also like: Set Yourself Limits to Think Outside the Box

1 Sit Down

There have been countless times when I’ve needed to do something. The work is easy, it’ll only take ten or twenty minutes, the stars have aligned and so on but I tend to put it off anyway. The real reason I and many others do this is because of a little thing called procrastination. It’s something I’ve struggled with for years and something I’m finally overcoming.

The first and hardest part of JDI is sitting down and starting. Have you ever heard the trick writers use to get themselves going when they’re stuck on a blank canvas? The easiest thing to do is just start writing anything, even if it doesn’t pertain to what you sat down for. Write about what you had for breakfast or what you did on your lunch break. Anything just to break-in that fresh writing canvas and get you moving along.

A lot of what I write never even sees the light of day. I write and revise and write some more. My process can be different every time but in the end there’s usually a well-crafted post ready to go. Sometimes whole sections will get written over or deleted. I sometimes know when I’m writing something that will never be published but if it gets me over some sort of writers block then I just go for it…or JDI.

2 Set The Task

So you’ve sat down, started writing or designing any old thing and you’re ready to work. What now? Where do you start? Well before you do anything important set a to-do task in something like Wunderlist, Todoist or Trello. That way you’re setting yourself up for success and you’ll get that amazing feeling of achievement when you get to tick it off.

There are however differences between design and development tasks. I do both on a daily basis and have come to realise how each must be approached with a certain mindset.

A design task might just need a color change to a button. It may only take ten minutes. A development task may be the same thing but you may need to set up a local development server, use the command line to watch for Sass changes, connect to the right MySQL database and only then can you make the change.

On the other hand, the design task may take 45 minutes if you realise the icon you’re using needs changing and the layout needs some refinement. The development task may only require you to open up the CSS file and change #ff0000 to #ff00ff.

Make sure you set the task and write down any and all details before doing it. That way you can avoid unnecessary complications that could’ve been foreseen and accounted for.

3 Just Do It (JDI)

This is the part that defines you. This is the part that proves ‘hacks’ are nothing when you have the will-power to just get things done, but how?

The best answer I can give you is to just start. Remember the little trick (not ‘hack’) we used when sitting down? It was to just start doing anything that moves you closer to your goal. Do that but this time change it up so you either write or design something that aligns with your overall end-goal.

I like to write personal blog posts that are in some way connected to my more professional articles here on IP. Most of the time I only write a few sentences before I leave the personal stuff altogether and get knee-deep in the design and development related articles.

You might also like: The Building Blocks of a Good Design

Isn’t All That Just One Big Hack?

The reason I stay away from the ‘hack’ label is because a hack, in development terms, is something quick and dirty. It gets the job done for the short-term but isn’t very sustainable for the long-term.

The worst thing you can do, especially if you want a sustainable schedule, is to hack your way through it. At some point it’ll all come crashing down and you’ll be left feeling lost without a purpose.

If you’ve got a couple of productivity tips or want some advice on beating procrastination leave me a comment below or get my free e-book titled “Staying Productive When Working at Home” when you subscribe to the free Inspirational Newsletter.

Follow IP on Twitter Like IP on Facebook