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In this video, Chelsea talks about the popular productivity rules that are actually BS — because waking up at 4 AM has nothing to do with whether or not someone is successful.

Delayed sleep phase syndrome:

Benefits of being a night owl:

The myth of first in, last out:

Starvation diet:

Not keeping up:

Dangers of gossip:,documented%20symptoms%20of%20workplace%20bullying.

Multitasking is bad:


Watch more of The Financial Diet hosted by Chelsea Fagan here:

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Hey, guys. It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And today, I want to talk about the concept of productivity and the terrible advice that we often hear around the subject. In many ways, I'm actually more long-term interested in changing our ideas of whether or not productivity as an abstract concept is even really all that much to aspire to. As a business owner, personally, for both myself and my team, I often think more in terms of what helps people do their best work, not the most work, on a long-term sustainable basis that respects them as people first and employees slash workers slash whatever their job title is second. Unfortunately though, in America, we still tend to have a pretty singular fixation on the idea of productivity that is in many ways about maximizing. Maximizing the time you work, the things you're able to accomplish, the prestige and money you accrue and everything else, basically geared toward being more. But I don't think more is always better when it comes to our work. And in many ways, the data does support that. So I wanted to take this video to debunk a few of those really terrible productivity tips that we've almost become numb to seeing, but should really reconsider at their root. No one is wake up early. It's pretty much ubiquitous at this point that when some business thought leader gives you their secret to life, they're often going to start with talking about how they wake up at 4 o'clock in the morning or whatever. And it's not a new subject for those who know on TFD, but I've never been a morning person. I wake up now earlier than I used to, but I still tend to wake up on average around 8 o'clock in the morning, which by entrepreneur standards, is basically midnight. But the reason why it's so important to consider that focusing on a particular time of day is not really that helpful is because for many people, the morning is not the time at which they're most naturally alert, productive, or even capable of critical thinking. And this actually has a name. Delayed sleep phase syndrome, or DSPS, is a disorder in which a person sleep is delayed by 2 hours or more beyond what is considered an acceptable or conventional bedtime. The delayed sleep then causes difficulty in being able to wake up at the desired time. For example, a person with DSPS may fall asleep after midnight instead of at 10 PM. And then will have difficulty getting up in the morning for school or for work. And to some extent, I even resent the premise that this is a syndrome or a disorder to begin with, because unless we're talking about agrarian work, a lot of when we have to do particular jobs, especially professional white collar jobs, is completely arbitrary. But more importantly forcing ourselves to operate on a time that is not optimal for us or natural to our bodies has distinct consequences and a lot of missed opportunity. As many as 37% of people consider themselves as evening people or night owls. These people stay up late, like to sleep in, and are most productive during the second half of the day starting from about 2 PM. But despite the fact that more than one third of the population are evening types, society, including many employers are still holding on to the assumption that people are most productive and efficient in the mornings. The result, companies are losing millions of dollars every year because of sleepy employees who are unable to focus at work. So the best solution here is to find the times of day at which you are most clear in your thinking and most able to do that harder work. And be value neutral about whatever that time happens to be, then lean into it. Which brings me to my next point. Another terrible piece of productivity slash business advice you'll hear is the maxim first in, last out.

Now, let's start with the basics here. Even the 40-hour work week that most of us adhere to is really-- especially when it comes to office work-- totally arbitrary. First of all, for workers of any kind, 40 hours a week of work basically precludes any true level of work-life balance when you consider just how much of their waking hours that time represents. But perhaps more importantly, the 40-hour work week initially arose as a reaction to exploitative factory workers who were heavily overworking their labor force and were being actively compromised with to reach that new 40-hour limit. It's not as if that number was reached independently as the correct amount of time for a person to work, which is why the above and beyond model of emphasizing being the first person at your desk and the last person out your door as a key to success-- things that you'll hear all the time on shows like Shark Tank-- isn't just wrong, it's also potentially destructive. According to research, knowledge workers have just two hours and 48 minutes of productive time each day. This is a far cry from the eight plus hours we typically spend at work. And while there are plenty of factors that inhibit our productivity each day, from stress and procrastination to a lack of focus, one of the worst is just simply working at the wrong time. So when you consider how little of the office workers actual time is spent doing deep, thoughtful, productive work, you start to realize that even the 40-hour work week is probably too much. Let alone showboating by extending your day on both sides. And honestly, most of this is probably just in an effort to demonstrate how busy you are, which in my opinion, is really just another way of saying how inefficient you are. And it also creates a toxic environment for colleagues wherein you all become in a sort of silent passive aggressive competition for who can seem the most dedicated to their job. Long story short, you should be working smarter, not longer.

Number three is following this or that miracle diet. Whether we're talking about Jack Dorsey of Twitter who proudly talks about-- without seemingly any trace of self-awareness-- his starvation diet in which he just literally doesn't eat most weekends because, I guess, life isn't difficult enough, there are also miracle diets on basically every end of the nutrition spectrum promising all kinds of benefits that extend well beyond the physical and into being your most productive self. There are those business and lifestyle gurus who champion everything from vegan diets, raw diets, macrobiotic diets, keto diets, paleo diets, carnivore diets, liquid diets, and so on and so forth. Now, to be clear, it is not new that diets position themselves as a miracle way to achieve the body you want in the shortest span of time or with the least amount of effort. That's quite old. Although, arguably in and of itself rather problematic. But it is fairly new for these diets to be so closely aligned with the vision of health that is about a sense of purity and detoxification and control over your higher self and self actualization, which then in turn will supposedly manifest in all kind of benefits in terms of your potential output and productivity. The truth is, as it's always been, and as boring as it may be, the diet that is right for you is one that you can follow your entire life, which is sustainable and manageable and helps you feel genuinely good on a consistent basis. And of course, aligns with your values and your needs. Whether for your body or your productivity, there is no such thing as a miracle diet.

Number four is know your competition in and out. Now, it may seem intuitive to be very keyed into what a rival is doing in your career, whether that's another employee at your own organization or a rival at a different organization or an entire other organization within your industry. But it can actually be stifling to creativity and independent thought to be super aware of what others are doing, as well as being a pretty substantial time suck. Plus, it can have the unintended consequence of subtly influencing you on your own ideas based on what others happen to be doing. From a business perspective, thinking about competitors, endlessly researching them, making spreadsheet after spreadsheet takes up a lot of time, especially when there are a lot of them. Take marketing technology as one example. If your startup is looking to bag some market share here, then you probably can't even keep up with the number of competitors given the phenomenal pace at which this landscape is growing. The 2017 marketing technology landscape super graphic really highlights this. In 2011, there were around 150 marketing technology companies. Fast forward six years, and there are now over 5,000. In the last year alone, there has been a 40% growth in available solutions. You would need to hire someone full time just to keep up with it. But even just on an individual level, workplace politics and gossip can have a damaging effect on mental health, as well as your own career trajectory. Since the '90s, many researchers in the fields of mental health and organizational management have written about the effects of workplace bullying and mental health. Psychological burnout, depression, anxiety, aggression, even psychosomatic complaints where psychological strain manifested physical symptoms like migraines have all been well documented symptoms of workplace bullying. But aside from the obvious effects of harmful rumors on victims, there's also evidence to suggest that negative gossip can actually change the way we see the world. Perception is everything, or so the saying goes. And priming ourselves to only detect the negative in our daily lives can have long-term consequences on our own mental health that can persist, regardless of whether we're the victim or the perpetrator. Ultimately, it's healthiest to view your own organization and broader industry as a place where everyone has room to succeed and someone else's path does not have a huge bearing on your own. And if you happen to be in a situation where you have a coworker who's unbelievably frustrating to you because they're lazy or manipulative or incompetent or all of the above, it's important to remember that you are probably not going to be able to do anything about it. You'll have to let that work itself out on its own and not waste some of your precious time focusing on their career.

Number five is multitask. Simply put, multitasking is just not a good idea for people who ultimately want to be good at what they do and able to accomplish it competently. The neuroscience is clear. We are wired to be monotaskers. One study found that just 2.5% of people are able to multitask effectively. And when the rest of us attempt to do two complex activities simultaneously, it is simply an illusion. Trying more than one thing at a time, especially anything potentially dangerous, like texting while driving, seriously compromises our ability to complete the task safely and well. Equally important is repeatedly switching back from project to project like a hummingbird darting from flower to flower and then back to the original flower can impair our ability to function at our finest. And this fallacy really gets at the heart of what we often conflate when it comes to productivity. Doing more for doing better, which is particularly frustrating when we consider that focusing on more in a short-term moment can often mean doing less on a long-term time scale.

Lastly, number six is being a perfectionist. There is a real cult of perfectionism in the professional world. And we can tend to overlook how dangerous it can be because a lot of the advice seems to make sense on its surface. Things like, if you can't do it right, then don't bother doing it at all. The truth is that if you are growing in basically any profession there are going to be an enormous amount of tasks that you simply will not have the skills to do right the first time. And learning and growing in your career with the right mentors and with the right level of patience for yourself and ability to learn from your own mistakes is a crucial part of career development. And beyond that, this desire for perfectionism often leads us to a sort of paralyzation when it comes to trying things we may not be good at or that we may not perfectly understand. Or keep us locked in a cycle of doing things that are familiar to us or taking familiar solutions to problems without really taking the time to explore if something could be done better by being done differently. And in its most extreme forms, this kind of perfectionism can actually be fatal. One older study, for example, found that over half of people who died by suicide were described by their loved ones as perfectionists. Another study found that more than 70% of young people who died by suicide were in the habit of creating "exceedingly high expectations of themselves." Toxic perfectionism seems to hit young people, particularly hard. According to recent estimates, almost 30% of undergraduate students experience symptoms of depression and perfectionism has been widely associated with these symptoms. And these trends have been rising over the past few decades, particularly in the English speaking world. Curran and Hill studied more than 40,000 American, Canadian, and British college students and found that in 1989 to 2016, the proportion of people who exhibited traits of perfectionism rose by 33%. And while you may not necessarily be at this extreme, it's important to consider how you're framing your own successes and your mistakes in your mind. Is the latter opportunities for learning or for beating yourself up? In the end, productivity in and of itself may not even be the best goal. But if we are aspiring to work better and more thoughtfully while taking up less of our precious time, it's important that we lean into what actually works not just what sounds good on an inspirational coffee mug.

As always, guys, thank you for watching. And do not forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Bye.