Ditch the Checklist, Productivity is Not About Numbers

Getting things done is all about focusing on the task at hand.

learn more about Renée Warren

By Renée Warren

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In your quest to become a successful entrepreneur, you've no doubt tried to implement productivity hacks. You've made lists and then crossed items off said lists. You've even rocked the Inbox Zero method.

I hate to tell you this, but you've been cheated.

Think about it, how many hours did you lose trying to implement all these hacks? While you're focused on the instant gratification of crossing things off, how much of your focus is on the quality of work you're producing? Your strikethroughs are impeccable, but your work is maybe mediocre at best.

That glow from your empty inbox won't help you there.

These hacker-style tips make you believe that it's all about the numbers, but doesn't take into account your performance. It's like finishing a marathon using a scooter -- sure, those miles are behind you, but no one will commend you on your hard work. The same goes for your task list. Everything is checked off, but you end up feeling guilty because you didn't put forth your best effort.

Related: Your Time Is Money, So Stop Wasting It

Instead of lists and numbers, productivity should be about focusing on one thing and doing it well.

Have you ever heard of flow psychology? It's when you're entirely absorbed on one task at a time. You're not distracted by anything else and you're eager to work on whatever's in front of you.

Scheduling your "flow" can be tough. It tends to happen naturally, especially during that specific time of day where you feel most creative and ready to conquer the world. Once you are in it though, you crank out high-quality work, something even the world's best productivity hacker would be impressed by.

Focus can be daunting and exhausting, but when your attention is undivided, your work is often better and you are much more productive. You don't half-heartedly work on your tasks, or dread starting them. You are on top of it all and feeling confident.

You eat, sleep, and work on a relatively set schedule. But how you focus during your waking hours is unpredictable. A bad night's sleep can throw off your whole day, but because routine is manageable, your productivity can be too. It's about using the time you have wisely and with great discipline.

Try getting up early tomorrow to create a daily plan. Experiment with scheduling your day in 30 to 60 minute intervals and see what happens. Note what works and what doesn't and adjust your routine over the course of the week.

Related: The 80/20 Rule and Listening to Your Inner Procrastinator

Some people work better without routines, but those are rare situations. Most people need a routine to avoid distraction and to keep themselves accountable. Achieving focus can feel like magic, but creating a routine ensures your productivity is not just an illusion.

The last step to achieving real productivity? Results. After you've worked on your task at the right time (your flow) at the designated time (your routine), you'll marvel in the quality of your results. It's this quality that you should always expect when you're being truly productive.

Ultimately, productivity can be described as using your time wisely. Working smart instead of just throwing hours aimlessly at your to-do list.

Focus, routine and results are the key ingredients for getting you to this point.

That said: everyone works differently. You may not be productive even with the help of a routine, but there is always a way to get high-quality work done. You just need to identify the triggers that distract you and eliminate them altogether. Then make use of a solid routine and fully embrace the power of flow.

Validate your productivity system today by evaluating the outcome. Productivity and pride in your work should always happen in tandem.

Related: A Structured Day Can Keep Wasted Time at Bay

Renée Warren

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Founder of We Wild Women

Renée Warren is an award-winning entrepreneur, a speaker, author, and the founder of We Wild Women, a business dedicated to helping women launch their dream business. She's a mom to Irish Twins, a drummer, and host of the Into The Wild podcast.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game

How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.

Business News

American Airlines Sued After Teen Dies of Heart Attack Onboard Flight to Miami

Kevin Greenridge was traveling from Honduras to Miami on June 4, 2022, on AA Flight 614 when he went into cardiac arrest and became unconscious mid-flight.

Business News

Jake Paul and Lindsay Lohan Fined $400,000 for 'Illegally Touting' Crypto

The SEC just disclosed that eight celebrities agreed to a massive settlement without admitting guilt.


After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.

Author Karen Inglis breaks down the strategies and tactics you need to generate awareness and sales for your self-published book.

Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.