Productivity Hacks: Talk to Yourself

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This post is part of a series in which LinkedIn Influencers share their secrets to being more productive. See all their #productivityhacks here.

OK, I admit it, I talk to myself. Sometimes it’s right out loud. Sometimes it’s just under my breath. Sometimes, the discussion is totally silent, but I hear it. Usually it’s just a question but sometimes it’s a dialogue that lasts a little longer. If others hear me, I might catch my breath and put on the muzzle. When I talk to myself I am calling on my productivity hack. It is a method that requires no cords or electric outlets, no app to download, and no Gantt Charts or Venn Diagrams to figure it out.

The scenario where it applies is not hard to imagine because each of us has been there. The application of this productivity hack works like this:

It’s 10:20 AM on a Tuesday at work. The computers are flashing and you just finished a quick conference call. Besides the call, so far you have opened sixty emails and deleted fifty. Two required responses and the others are still in the inbox and not that interesting. You checked the electronic calendar. No need to look for phone messages, no one calls. You go downstairs to stand in line for a latte. Some meetings are coming up and the project plan needs some revisions. Now let’s check Facebook and LinkedIn. Finally, you ask yourself, “Now what?” Hello!!! WTF!!! What are you doing? It’s time to talk to yourself. Start by asking a few questions…

  • What am I doing?
  • How am I spending my time?
  • Am I doing the right thing?
  • Why am I wasting time on this site?
  • Will this help the organization get ahead?
  • Do I really need this latte? Snickers Bar? Caesar Salad?
  • Why was I not chosen for that assignment?
  • Wonder what the really productive people are doing right now?
  • Why am I not getting promoted?

It’s a long list of questions you can ask yourself. But the secret is to stop. Stop what you are doing. The old way is to just keep going. Hit a new site. Waste time. Yes literally stop and talk to yourself and ask some questions. The secret is to not only ask them but to truthfully answer them. If you are not making the best use of your time, you will know. That means it’s time to adjust. When you do, your productivity hack will kick in too.

As some smart person once declared, “Of course I talk to myself. Sometimes I need expert advice”

A productivity hack doesn’t need to be rooted in technology. In fact, sometimes technology makes us less productivity. A frustrated cubicle dweller recently told me that life in business is made up of ambiguous victories and nebulous defeats. When you have an unproductive day, it is time to have a good talking to yourself to avoid that nebulous defeat.

We all do it. We all talk to ourselves. How about instead of asking “Now, where did I put those keys?” ask yourself, “Am I doing the most important thing I can?” It might be the most important question we utter to ourselves.

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