There seems to be an endless amount of information on what we should do to be more productive, but what this information lacks is, what we should avoid doing in order to be as happy/productive/sane/self-aware as possible.
So, here is my do-not-do list of things I need to stop doing right now . . .
1. Stop worrying about what other people are doing. Seriously. In the era of highly publicized living, it’s hard not to creep on other people and compare yourself to them. Everything tends to look glitzy via social media. Let’s be real here, Susan only posts status updates when things are going well and she only posts pictures when her skin is clear and her makeup is flawless. She will likely avoid posting a lengthy status detailing her financial woes. A friend may proudly announce that their book is being published, but will neglect to tell you that it was rejected by ten publication companies. Comparisons can turn allies into rivals. It’s like comparing your raw behind the scene footage to someone else’s highlight reel. Focus on yourself.
2. Stop wasting so much time on social media. This brings us back to Susan, who we compare ourselves to relentlessly. Social comparison can potentially be dangerous. That’s why so many researchers are reporting on the correlations between social media usage and low self-esteem or depression. Social media can distract us from real work, and cultivate undesirable feelings. It distracts us from doing the really great things that we’re capable of, and unless it’s a business account, it doesn’t make us any money. Set aside a slot of time that you can afford to dedicate to social media and then put it away for the day. If you must spend more time on social media, spend time on YOUR feeds. Reflect on the things you’ve posted that you are proud of.
3. Stop saying yes to everyone. You can’t please them all. If you often find yourself thinking “I don’t want to do this, I shouldn’t have agreed to this,” then you are likely a people pleaser. Which isn’t inherently bad, it means that you’re probably a nice person who wants to be liked and doesn’t like to hurt people’s feelings. It’s healthy to be able to say no. Here are some things to consider when someone asks you to do something. Does it align with a bigger goal? How does saying yes make you feel, physically? If a request or activity makes you feel anxious (not the excited kind) then it’s probably best to kindly decline. Lastly, consider who it will benefit. It’s great to be altruistic, but it should benefit you, too.
4. Stop being negative. Negativity will create the “bad luck” that we complain about. It will also make us less enthusiastic and more indecisive. Negative thinking is not based on truth, but fear. The first step in squashing our negative thought patterns, is recognizing them and replacing them with positivity and optimism. We can’t get to where we want to be if we’re sitting on the sidelines worrying about what may happen next. We must be a key player, and move forward towards our goals. Choose to be happy everyday.
5. Stop working so much. Being busy is not the same thing as being productive. We can only work effectively for so long, so try to work effectively in the hours that you do work and give yourself a break when you don’t. Research backs up the forty-hour work week, and proves that working too much can actually hinder cognitive function. In one five-year study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers compared participants who worked forty hours a week and fifty five hours a week. They completed tests to evaluate intelligence, memory, and vocabulary. Those who worked fifty five hours per week showed poorer reasoning skills and vocabulary.