5 Ways to Be Unproductive (And What to Do About It)

So, you're feeling unproductive today? Well, hold my (non-alcoholic & vegan) beer! 

Yesterday, I created near-perfect conditions for a day completely devoid of focus. 

Given that I *embarrassed cough* coach people on productivity, this was a proud accomplishment. That is also why I would love to take advantage of the opportunity to share with you how to do the same…

how you can be as unfocused and unproductive as possible.

Yes, I entirely believe you can get there, too. There are only 5 simple steps you need to follow to completely lose your focus and derail your plans for the day.

If, however, you are one of these weirdos who wants to be more productive, not less, you will also learn 5 helpful strategies. 

I don’t think I’m over-promising when I say that this will make all the *evil cackle* difference in your life.

Are you ready to find out more about how to be unproductive? If so, I will reveal the secret recipe I followed to get there. May it serve you as well as it served me:

1. To be as unproductive as possible, check your email first thing in the morning 

“I don’t believe in email. I’m an old-fashioned girl. I prefer calling and hanging up.” — Sarah Jessica Parker

The biggest advice I can give you if you want to be as unproductive as possible is to check your email inbox first thing in the morning.

Reading through a bunch of unsorted, random virtual messages of various importance is a surefire way to forget what you even wanted to work on in the first place.

Plus, emails are like the mythical Hydra who regrows two heads for every head you chop off. In other words, the more emails you respond to in the morning, the more emails you will get back, which means that you will have something to distract you for the rest of the day.


2. Don’t set your priorities

“I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realise I should have been more specific.” — Lily Tomlin

Hopefully, the excursion to your email inbox has already helped you to lose some of your focus. Even if it hasn’t, what is crucial is that you don’t pause to consider what you would like to get accomplished today, let alone what your most important tasks for the day are.

If your goal is to be as unfocused as possible, knowing your priorities has to be avoided like the plague.

Sorry, too soon?

My apologies. But it brings me to another point:

3. Check the news (constantly) will also help you be more unproductive

“A newspaper consists of just the same number of words, whether there be any news in it or not.” — Henry Fielding

When you’re not checking your email inbox (you are checking your email inbox, right?), you should be checking the news.

After all, your goal is to be as distracted as possible, and the 24-hour news cycle is more than happy to help you achieve that state. (Bonus: it will also make you more anxious and unhappy!)

Ideally, you also want to enable news notifications on your phone so that it pings you in random intervals, decreasing the risk that you might accidentally slip into a state of concentration.

4. Multi-task, multi-task, multi-task

“Multi-tasking? I can’t even do two things at once. I can’t even do one thing at once.” — Helena Bonham Carter

Multi-tasking is another secret approach that will help you become a lot less focused.

An easy way to get started on that is to begin working on at least five tasks simultaneously. Bonus points if you can also open an impressive array of browser windows to visually drive home the fact that you’re flitting from task to task.

Your role model for this is a bee who has accidentally ingested about twice her body weight in amphetamines and now tries to go about her flower-pollinating business while having the attention span of a, well… 21-st century human with a smartphone.

Is it effective? No.

Is it full of activity? Hell yes!

That’s what we’re aiming for.

When you do multi-task, be careful not to accidentally finish one of your started activities as reducing your open loops defeats the entire purpose of this exercise.

5. To remain unproductive, all you have to do is to keep going

“The most interesting thing about a postage stamp is the persistence with which it sticks to its job.” — Napoleon Hill

Congratulations. If you have followed the last steps, you should have noticed a significant reduction of your focus, concentration, and productivity. 

Now the only thing left for you to do is to keep going. If you stop to consider your activities, there’s a risk that you might once again find your path to focus. And we can’t let that happen, can we?

So, it’s crucial to remember that you need to keep digging, I mean, going. You need to keep going!

You got this.

If you failed to remain unproductive, it’s probably for any (or all) of the following 5 reasons:

  1. You stopped, took a breath, and reflected on what was causing your lack of focus.
  2. You turned off all distractions, closed unused browser windows, and disabled notifications that broke your concentration.
  3. You logged out of your email inbox and all Social Media accounts and only checked them at specific times.
  4. You got clear on what you need to accomplish and were paying attention to your list of priorities.
  5. You worked on one thing at a time.

If so, congratulations, you did better than I did yesterday.

Here’s the thing:

Being unfocused takes effort. When we’re not being distracted, the natural state of our mind is one of focus. Naturally, that helps you become more productive as well. 

By ignoring the tongue-in-cheek advice I gave in this article (or by doing the exact opposite), you will be able to enjoy this natural state of our mind.

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View posts by Louise
Louise is the founder of Leader for Good. She's a former lawyer and academic who moved from Germany to the United States where she started her own business. Today, Louise loves helping her coaching clients and students connect with their passion and purpose. You can find out more about her coaching business at www.workyoulovecoach.com.
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