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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

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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