Most productivity advice is bullshit.
Motivational coaches and bloggers promise to help you be more efficient and get things done, but – upon closer evaluation – they fail to deliver.
Let’s face it: Lifehack’s “11 practical ways to stop procrastinating” don’t stop you from watching Zack and Cody when you should (and hopefully want to) be studying.
While their promise sounds exciting – who wouldn’t want to fend off procrastination – it’s headline is a copywriting tactic at best, and a blatant lie at worst.
Truthfully, Lifehack’s articles are carefully crafted to drown your sorrows, overcome feelings of desperation and inspire you to consume another of their articles.
On the positive side, Lifehack is a virtual friend that’ll make you soothe you when you’re feeling down; but deep down, it’s not the motivational coach you should be looking for.
How do I know?
Lifehack’s practical advice to battling procrastination starts off with the following tip:
“Break your work into little steps”
Admittedly, the explanation and example that follows – dividing a book project into research, deciding on a topic, outlining, etc. – is better than on most personal development sites, but it doesn’t aid a confuzzled you or me in breaking our assignments or projects down into little steps.
Though I’m no expert myself in how to break down complex tasks, even I can come up with an actually practical tip to breaking down work into little steps . This is what I would write on the Lifehack blog instead (though take my advice with a grain of salt, I’m not sure whether it works):
“You’ve got an overwhelmingly complex task you want to do. How can you break it down into manageable steps that you can tackle one-by-one? A strategy I like to use is to imagine that I’m feeding an old computer the most basic procedures that need to be done. For example, if I have to write an essay, my first thought is research. A computer won’t understand the command research, so instead I tell it look through topics abc and xyz and identify arguments made by different scientists. This sounds a lot simpler than the daunting word research.”
The tips are consistently vague and unhelpful, but I have another bone to pick with this specific article: the final tip – probably written without much thought, just before the publishing deadline – contradicts all the previous advice.
Get a grip and just do it! the heading yells at you. For one, if it were so easy, you wouldn’t be visiting their site for advice, and second it leaves you with the dilemma whether you should first break your work down into all little steps (and follow the remaining 9 tips) or whether you should disregard their previous advice and start working.
End of Rant
So try not to fall into the trap of consuming countless posts on procrastination and study advice, but take action. And please, try to ignore the tons of bad tips that come with the start of each New Year. A new year, in particular because of New Year’s resolutions, is often an excuse for bloggers to post lots of motivational advice; I’ll try to refrain from doing so 😉