It's human nature to look for better ways of doing things. Sometimes, however, our endless search for betterment leads us to fall for bad advice. Such is especially true in our digital age, where the competition for our attention is fierce, and big, bold claims stand out from the crowd, regardless if they're true or false.

Not helping matters are the many toxic fallacies that our modern work culture still refuses to relinquish, even though they often do more harm than good. Unfortunately, some are so deeply ingrained in our psyches that we believe in them without thinking about them.

It's unfortunately entirely possible that some lousy advice is ruining your productivity and jeopardizing your wellbeing and chances of success, both in your home life and at work. As such, it's as good a time as ever to dispel some of the more common productivity myths that people believe.

Myth 1: We Should Copy the Habits of Successful People

You've probably heard all sorts of stories about the quirky habits of successful people, but the implication that following them will lead to similar success is naive at best.

For starters, it's essential to realize that many people are successful despite bad habits, while others are unsuccessful despite good habits. Furthermore, your circumstances and personality are likely different from anyone else's, including your favorite celebrity. After all, while opening windows and standing without clothes on might have worked wonders for Benjamin Franklin, such is probably not going to go down well with your neighbors if you try the same.

Instead: Focus On Your Best Self

When we compare ourselves to others, we take time away from working on our best selves. So, while it's healthy to be inspired by those you admire, you'll do well to refrain from idolization. Concentrate instead on what habits and techniques work best for you.

Myth 2: Working Longer Hours Will Result in More Being Done

At first glance, it might seem like common sense that you can get more done in 10 hours than you can in eight. Likewise, it seems logical that you could get more work done in six days instead of five. And you'd sort of be right... for a short while.

Ultimately, however, consistently working long hours is detrimental to your health, wellbeing, and, yes, your productivity. Tasks will take longer, and you'll be more susceptible to making mistakes. You'll also be risking the possibility of entirely burning out and having to take time off sick. Not great for you and certainly not great for those who depend on you.

Instead: Re-energize With Rest and Leisure

We often view rest as being the antithesis of productivity. However, the truth is that you can't have the latter without the former. Spending day after day, hour after hour, stuck at a desk isn't conducive to creative thinking either. So take time for yourself and live a little - your workflow will only improve as a result.

Myth 3: We Should Maximize Every Moment of the Day

This myth ties into the last one and our "always-on" "hustle" culture. Unfortunately, hyper-focusing on time management doesn't necessarily make us use our time better. Instead, it only makes us feel bad about the time that we naturally tend to waste.

The average person only has about 3-4 truly productive hours in them each day. The odd individual may be able to manage more (or at least claim to), but no human is a machine.

Instead: Focus On Your Most Productive Hours Through Deep Work

You probably have a vague idea of when you do your best work. Perhaps you work best shortly after you wake up, or two or three coffees later. Regardless, you'll do well to place your efforts into maximizing this time, and the concepts of 'deep work' and 'shallow work' can help you achieve this.

Shallow work alludes to the menial tasks you need to do throughout the day. Such might include:

- Checking Emails
- Printing Documents
- Proofreading
- Making calls
- Micromanaging

These kinds of tasks rarely take much cognitive focus. So you're probably capable of doing most of them in a half-distracted state.

On the other hand, deep work refers to tasks that require concentration. They're likely job-specific according to what you do. For example, for a writer, deep work would mean creating articles. For a programmer, deep work would be the actual programming they do.

The trick is to carve out distraction-free time for your most important tasks each day. Doing so will ensure you don't waste your limited productivity on menial tasks.

Myth 4. External Rewards Are the Prime Motivation Behind Productivity

Obviously, we all have expenses, and we all need to work to pay those expenses. Rarely, however, do monetary rewards serve as a good enough motivator to inspire great work. Furthermore, it's essential to understand that incentives are not the same as motivation. Whereas an incentive might result in a temporary productivity boost, the effects rarely last long.

There's some evidence that suggests that external rewards may actually hinder productivity. Such is due to what's known as the 'Motivational Crowding Theory,' which suggests that the introduction of external motivations can displace strong intrinsic ones and lead to a person becoming demotivated.

Whether that theory is entirely correct is debatable, but the point stands that the best incentives are often formed internally. People who feel proud of their work and find meaning in what they do are often the ones who are the most productive.

Instead: Look Internally for Motivation

Not every job can be thrilling or exciting as the next - we can't all be rock stars and sports personalities. But that doesn't mean that our work shouldn't inspire us. After all, if you're going to spend around eight hours a day doing something, it should be something that you feel is worth doing.

If you are feeling demotivated, think back to why you went into your field of work in the first place. For example, perhaps you went into the service industry because you are a people-person, or programming because you wanted to create things with computers.

Motivations change over time, and so do workplaces. As a result, it's always worth checking in on yourself to consider if what you're doing is right for you and whether you genuinely believe in your work. If, on the other hand, you only focus on the paycheck, you might find yourself lacking motivation no matter how good said paycheck is.

Myth 5: Early Risers Are More Productive

We all know someone who likes to brag about getting up earlier than everyone else as if this meant they had achieved more. The truth is, it doesn't matter if we get up at 4 in the morning or closer to midday, we're all left with the same amount of hours to work within.

There's no denying that society tends to favor early risers, but the reality is that everyone has a slightly different internal clock. In fact, studies have shown that this may be an evolutionary trick leftover from our ancestors because, of course, someone had to watch over the camp at night for predators, right?

Instead: Fit Your Work Around You

Being a late riser does not make you intrinsically lazy, no matter what anyone says. Nor, for that matter, is there anything wrong if you tend to be more proactive in the early hours of the day. Of course, getting the rest of the world to work on your time is probably out of the question. But if you can, learn to fit your work around you and not the other way round - you'll get more done, and you'll probably feel a lot happier.

Final Thoughts

If there's one key takeaway here, it is that productivity is a personal thing. What works wonders for one individual may result in disaster for the next. The key is to take a proactive approach to discover what works for you and implement a lifestyle that best suits it.