Advertising
Advertising

Before You Grumble About Not Having Enough Time, Check If You Have These 8 Time-Wasting Habits

Before You Grumble About Not Having Enough Time, Check If You Have These 8 Time-Wasting Habits

For many of us these days it seems like we have thousands of things to do and never enough time to get to them all. No matter how many things we get done the list just keeps getting longer.

The reality is that we’re likely wasting time on many things that are not accomplishing our main goals. Here are 8 ways you’re probably wasting your time in the day.

1. Doing what others think is important for you means you don’t really get your top tasks done

How often do you start the day by checking your email only to find 10 new things people want you to do? Or maybe you check it in the midst of a deadline instead of actually pushing the project forward.

Instead of starting the day by seeing what everyone else thinks is important for you decide what your top task is before you leave the office or go to bed. When you start the day start on that top task. Only look at what others think is important once you’ve finished the most important task.

Advertising

2. Saying ‘yes’ to everything so you have no margin

Of course we want to keep those close to us happy. It’s something that we’re taught from a young age, to just say yes when people need help. The fact is that if you always say yes you really have no margin in your life. Without that margin you end up running from thing to thing without actually having time to do one thing right.

Don’t always say yes. Evaluate each request based on what’s important to you and only say yes to items that match. Only by saying no regularly do you have room to take advantage of the great opportunities when they come along.

3. Letting perfection get in the way of finishing things

I know you want to do things the right way but the problem is that right so often turns in to perfect and that’s a recipe to never get things finished.

Perfect isn’t ever going to happen, it’s an entirely unattainable moving target. You’ll always think of something more that can be done to make it ‘just right’.

Advertising

Alternatively finish the project and launch it. Then go back and make some changes. It needs to be out where others can see it to have any impact.

4. Letting busy work hide procrastination

How many times do you finish a day feeling like you’ve worked hard only to realize that you really can’t remember what you accomplished. You probably just did busy work like cleaning your desk or checking email or social media. You never put any concentrated effort in on the important tasks.

Start scheduling your email and social time during the day and put a time limit on them. Schedule office cleaning every few weeks. Focus on moving things forward instead of just making yourself look busy.

5. Finishing something just because you started it

Yes it feels bad to not finish things, like books, but if you really don’t like a book you need to put it away and move on.

Advertising

Give a book a fair chance and then drop it if it’s not up your alley. Go find something worth your reading time.

6. Doing many things poorly instead of one thing well

Unfortunately many people think that multi-tasking is a great use of time. You get more done right? In reality you can only focus on one thing at a time and all multi-tasking does is force you to change your focus quickly from task to task.

Focus on one thing at a time. Work on it till it’s done or set a timer and work for an hour or 2 hours on the task. Then switch your focus and put all your attention on the next task. Giving intentional focus to each item on it’s own will yield better work.

7. Trying to remember things causes too many open loops

Having ideas is a great thing. Those ideas yield a wealth of possibilities. The problem is that so many ideas often create a bunch of open loops in your brain. Instead of being able to focus on a single task you end up expending brain power trying to remember everything.

Advertising

To fight this have a notepad with you at all times and write down the title of that new book you heard about and want. If you’re not a fan of a paper notebook use a tool like Evernote and drop a quick note to reference later. Getting those open loops out of your head will allow your brain to focus on the task at hand.

8. Dwelling on the issues that may happen causes inaction

Any sane person tries to account for the unknown. You may hit traffic on the way to visit a friend so you leave early. But some people sit in a state of looking for issues figuring they can move forward when they’ve accounted for all possible issues.

You’ll never find them all. Instead give yourself and hour or maybe only 20 minutes to look for and come up with solutions to issues then take the next step. There is nothing to stop you from getting a few steps towards finishing then stopping and taking that 20 minutes again with the new knowledge you have.

Next time you feel like things are overwhelming come back to this list and make sure you’re engaged in the things that matter not wasting your time.

Featured photo credit: fischerfotos via flickr.com

More by this author

4 Ways to Become a People Connector How Focussing On Project Failure Can Lead To Success 3 Ways To Cut Your Daily Work Interruptions 3 Reasons you need to prioritize sleep if you want to be successful 5 Reasons Saying Yes is Hurting Your Business

Trending in Productivity

1 Your Night Routine Guide to Sleeping Better & Waking Up Productive 2 74 Healthy Habits That Will Drastically Improve Every Aspect of Your Life 3 How to Increase Willpower and Be Mentally Tough 4 9 Daily Habits That Will Change Your Life 5 How to Influence People and Make Them Feel Good

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

Advertising

1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

Advertising

There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

Advertising

So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

Advertising

And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next