• Author Tim Metz

How to be as unproductive as possible

For most of us, the challenge is to get more productive. But there are some folks out there wondering how to be less productive.

Take Alan (name altered to protect his privacy). He’s been obsessed with his productivity ever since he started his own app development company. “I’m so productive these days, there’s hardly any work left for me to do. Now I’ve taken to doing other people’s work, just to keep me occupied. It’s quite worrisome, I admit."

The condition is not yet officially marked as an addiction, though it does remind us of another one: people (usually rockstars) suffering from sex addiction. Not a complaint I’ve ever heard from anyone I actually know, but apparently it does exist.

For Alan and others suffering a similar fate, we’ve composed this guide on how to be as unproductive as possible.

E-mail evangelism

In recent years, e-mail is finally getting the credit it deserves. Initially people thought it a great productivity-boosting tool, but nowadays many have come to realise its enormous potential for turning your day into an absolute mess.

Whenever someone like Alan comes to be me for advice, the first thing I look at is whether they keep their e-mail open at all times. It’s the equivalent of a doctor checking your pulse.

Having made sure that basic requirement is in place, the second step is to confirm you get a notification in the corner of your screen for every incoming mail. Ideally this includes the sender and subject name to maximise curiosity.

As the founder of Saent, Tim Metz knows all about focussing like a pro and maximizing productivity. 

Notifications are your friend

Before digital notifications, you actually had to remember to go and check Facebook, Twitter and your e-mail. Can you imagine? Thank God somebody invented notifications (special shout out to the inventor of the “badge app icon”). Unfortunately Apple has recently made it very easy to turn them all off, so please make sure to turn on all of your notifications.

Note: for extra effectiveness, make sure not to turn off your phone at night.

Work environment

If you’re working in an open-office plan, you can skip to the next chapter. Just make sure NOT to put on your headphones at any time, ok?

For everyone else; you’ll really have to make some changes to your work environment. Take a moment to imagine that place where you usually go to relax. Ideally where you always run into friends. Maybe your local Starbucks? The pub around the corner? Pictured it? Right, try to do some work there, it will be much more challenging.

In case you don’t have any friends, just ask your parents if you can work in their house, they’ll be delighted to see you more often. Oh, you’re still living with your parents? No worries, try getting things done from the living room while they’re watching TV.

Snooze and booze your way down

Living is easy without a hangover. "A bit too easy,” I hear you say. Right, so here are some rules of thumb for how to prepare your next day the night before:

  • If you’re out for dinner, always order that second bottle of wine.
  • If there’s more than two of you, multiply the number of bottles from the previous point, by the number of people present at your table.
  • Never, ever, refuse whatever free drinks and apéritifs the restaurant owner (or anyone else for that matter) offers you.
  • Always say “yes” to “come on, just one more drink”.
  • Drugs are usually a good idea if you want to completely mess up your next day or even your entire week. Be careful with speed and cocaine; you might end up more productive sometimes.
  • Sex is a tricky one: you might be completely worn out the next day OR you might get an energy kick the entire day OR you might feel disappointed. If you want to be sure you’re as unproductive as possible the next day, just drink more and avoid sex.

After all this, make sure you use your snooze button a lot the next morning, though I don’t foresee any problems there...

Embrace information overload

Let’s get something straight here: too much information is a good thing. And guess what? We’re living in amazing times. Soon even your microwave, coffee mug and toilet will be generating data!

Now what to do with all this information? Do not organise it. I know you have the urge, but don’t. Just let it be.

Wherever you run into it first, is usually the best place to leave it. Your inbox, the “Untitled” folder, or just in “Downloads”. And if you really don’t know what to do with it, just put it on your Desktop.

Get your priorities wrong

This is a tough one, but try to start your day working on low priority tasks. Don’t worry about deadlines. First get the easy stuff out of the way, sweat the important stuff later. It will do wonders for your unproductivity.

Speaking of priorities: never refuse a meeting request! If someone wants to talk in a face-to-face setting, it must be important. Please also make sure to mail google and vote for my new feature request, which is to accept any incoming meeting invitation by default.

Don’t sign up for this product

I’ve saved this till the end, as I didn’t want to undermine my credibility. But I’m actually involved in the development of a product which makes you more productive, by helping you focus. It will undo most of the above tips, so by all means, don’t check out this page and sign up, it might ruin everything.

The results?

After following the above tips (except for the last one), Alan is finally struggling again to get his work done: “I’m constantly getting interrupted. Haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep since I know when. Work is finally one big struggle again; I can highly recommend these tips!”

Being very productive often goes together with perfection. Do you want to learn how to make makes and be less a perfectionist? Follow our online learning journey: tired of being a perfectionist? 

Do you have a question?