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7 Super Unproductive Habits Most People Have

7 Super Unproductive Habits Most People Have

We all have those moments when our brain simply refuses to work, but more often than not the lack of productivity can be closely associated to a number of poor lifestyle choices, which can be changed with a bit of effort. These 7 habits are decreasing our productivity level without us even realizing it. Go through these points to find out if you have adopted some of them, and how to effectively remedy the situation.

1. Desktop madness

If your job requires the use of a computer, you need to keep it organized in order to avoid situations where you cannot find a certain document or a folder. We all tend to name our folders different names that aren’t really related to the content inside them, and we sometimes end up naming folders random letters in a hurry – “jdakdndji,” sound familiar? You have definitely done this before while thinking – “I’ll get back to that later,” and you have never changed it. As the works piles up, the folders pile up on your desktop, which makes you waste your time on finding the one you need.

Everyone thinks: “This is my organized chaos, and I know where to find all the things I need.” However, what happens is that you aren’t aware of the negative impact of this chaos. When you start this desktop madness, you start getting used to it, which reflects on the other tasks you perform. Moreover, the fact that you decided to come back to that task, and never did, shows that you are prone to procrastinating. In order to fight this bad habit, you need to start from smaller tasks. Also, you’ll feel much better when you have your working tools organized, which will subconsciously influence your productivity level. This happens because you create a strong work drive, which makes you organize all the other work, and you feel eager to finish all the tasks.

People forget about all the junk in their computer, which decreases its performance. Having constant issues with your software such as malware, interrupts your working process, which leads to having your project cut down into lots of small pieces. This makes you feel stressed out and you lose your focus, so try to keep your PC fairly well organized and protected – there are simple tools that you can use to clean up your computer efficiently – which will enable you to speed up performance and keep it safe.

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2. Searching all the time for the best songs

Before you start working, you start searching for the right music to keep you on track and motivated. In fact, music can really help us focus and work without feeling stressed out or anxious. However, what happens in most cases, is that we spend hours searching for the right playlist, which is a waste of time. Moreover, when you play a certain playlist, there is always at least one song that you’ll want to change. Then you see other songs and start skipping all of them, and then it’s back to the beginning – you start searching for another playlist. This is something we all do and it makes us unproductive during working hours, as we lose focus easily and need more time to get back to work.

Also, many songs which you love can distract you from the tasks because you are listening to the lyrics. Therefore, if you need to have some music playing, include some jazz or classical music in your playlist, instead of catchy pop songs. These genres will keep you focused and productive during the entire day. Try it out and compare your performance.

3. Always being easy to reach

Social media has become a huge part of our lives – we are constantly posting photos, updating statuses and chatting with our friends. There are so many ways to reach someone such as Viber, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, Skype, Twitter and Snapchat, and of course regular calls and messages. It wasn’t until I started listing all the ways you can reach someone on their smartphone, that I realized just how many possibilities there are. They are very useful when it comes to communicating with friends and family who live in other cities and countries, sure, but because we are all addicted to technology, we forget when to limit its usage. This is why a lot of people keep getting messages and funny pictures while they’re at work, and this is only making them less productive.

If your work is constantly interrupted by different updates from your friends, it’s no wonder your performance and quality of work suffer. You should plan small breaks when you will allow yourself to check your private e-mail, inbox and all your social media pages. However, be careful not to get lost in the virtual world, as hours can pass without you noticing it. In fact, it is perfectly normal to always be there for your colleagues, but constant questions and favors can distract you from your work, and you’ll lose your focus. Because of that, you need to learn to say no, and offer to help only when you are truly free, except for urgent situations.

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Let’s play a game – turn off your personal smartphone when at work, and turn only the business one. If someone needs you urgently, they’ll definitely call you on your business number. Try this for a week, and compare results.

4. Bad posture while sitting at the desk

Having a bad posture when sitting and standing can decrease your productivity, as you are constantly bothered by the pain caused by slouching. If you are experiencing chronic back pain and headaches, then you probably have bad posture. It affects your overall appearance, as well as your health, but it also has a huge negative impact on your productivity. When sitting improperly your body gets tired and you start to feel pain in some parts of your body such as the back, neck, and shoulders. This leads to you feeling stressed, which in turn affects your overall mood and concentration.

The more your body feels tired, the more your mind refuses to focus. To avoid adopting a bad posture when sitting you need to have a comfortable chair and a foot rest, which will help in supporting your back. Moreover, you should pay attention not only to the chair and height of the table, but also the position of your whole body.

Bad posture is usually caused by not exercising, which is of great importance if you lead a predominantly sedentary lifestyle. Working out will improve your posture, and also improve your productivity because you will feel more energized and confident.

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If you really have problems when trying to focus on a task, you should take up some yoga classes as the exercises are meant to improve your concentration and make your body flexible. Put your smartphone to better use by tracking the number of steps you take each day or the distance that you’ve ran. If you are competitive, this will make your running and walking an interesting game. No matter how busy your schedule is, you can always find 10-20 minutes to exercise, which will improve your overall health and increase your productivity levels.

5. Wearing smart, but uncomfortable clothes

Everyone wants to look good and fashionable at work, especially if in contact with clients and business partners. However, the fashion industry comes up with some clothes that are uncomfortable when worn for hours on end, because they don’t allow you to move freely. That pretty new dress or sleek suit can look really good on you, but if it makes you feel uncomfortable and is only causing difficulties when sitting, then you might consider purchasing something else. This doesn’t mean you should go to work in your sweatpants, but just buy clothes that are both trendy and comfortable.

Sitting for 8 hours in an office while wearing tight and uncomfortable clothes can make you nervous and distracted. So, if you thought that clothes don’t have any influence on your work, you were wrong. Moreover, when you are wearing something that you feel good and attractive in, you will certainly be more productive.

6. Working from home

If there is a deadline or you didn’t manage to finish all of your tasks during the working hours, people have a tendency to work from home in order to finish everything on time. But, is it really helping? Are you really improving your productivity and the quality of your work? When working longer hours or from home, you are losing the time which should be dedicated to your private life. It is impossible to be productive during the entire day.

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When you push yourself to do more than you comfortably can, you are only tiring yourself out, and you won’t be prepared mentally for the next workday. This causes your productivity levels to decrease with each passing day. Work should be done during the working hours, and after that you need to dedicate time to yourself and your family. If you haven’t finished the task today, you’ll finish it tomorrow – no big deal. Therefore, put your mind to the test and find out when you are most productive.

So, the answer to the question is no, it is not good to bring your work home or work longer hours. Some days you will finish just one task, and some days it will be three tasks. You cannot control your mind, but you can train it and learn to intelligently utilise the hours when your concentration is at its peak.

7. Having breakfast at the office

Not waking up early to drink the first morning coffee and eat breakfast at home is the mistake many people make. In order to sleep more, you can have breakfast at the office. When you come to work you need to be ready and in mood for working, and not still sleepy and grumpy. Also, eating at the office usually means eating fast food and junk food, which isn’t healthy for you, especially if it is your first meal of the day. It is recommended to have a healthy breakfast, because it gives you energy and charges up your brain.

As food has a direct influence on your cognitive performance, you need to eat healthy and regularly – skipping meals will cause poor decision making, as our body needs glucose to keep us focused. Small snacks like beef jerky, chicken salad, bananas or peanuts can help keep the hunger away, but it is always best to stick to organic and free range food options, as they have the most nutrients and are ethically produced.

If you get up earlier, you’ll have time to take the first sip of coffee in your peaceful home and have a healthy breakfast. This will prepare your body and mind for the work challenges and improve your productivity.

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Katarina Milovanovic

Creative Writer

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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