Do you know that your productivity mainly depends on your daily habits, you do? What makes productive people productive. is the habits they follow every single day. You can form positive or negative habits consciously or unconsciously. Meaning that the negative habits that you have unconsciously formed aren’t even your fault. I will later go over reasons why it isn’t your fault that you have some of these habits.
However I’m not taking the blame completely away from you. Some negative habits that you have formed are consciously formed. But that’s completely fine since you are a human being, we all make mistakes in our lives. On the other hand, if you continue to make the sama mistakes over and over again and expect something different to happen, then you have not learned from your mistakes.
You have to be constantly learning from your mistakes so that you don’t make those same mistakes again. Maybe you just need to tweak or do something slightly different to get a better result. That’s how we improve as human beings. And you keep improving to constantly get even better results.
On another note, don’t ever be too hard on yourself if you made the same mistake by accident. Like I said You are only human. We are not perfect. Be kind to yourself and just remind yourself to not do it again. Then move on with your day and simply enjoy life.
Anyways, before I start going off topic, I’d like to share 12 habits to have if you don’t want to be productive at all. (Learning from your mistakes is smart but learning from other people’s mistakes is even smarter.)
1. Checking your phone constantly…OH! Hold on I just got a text message.
Now there are tons of people who constantly check their phone and you might be just one out of many. But what if I told you that forming this negative habit is not completely your fault? Crazy right? You’ve been conditioned to associate that ringtone or vibration of your phone with a good feeling. So once you hear or feel something from your phone, you want to get that good feeling in your life which is understandable.
You feel good because you get to message or talk with your friend. In Pavlovian Conditioning, they accidentally discovered this very phenomenon. Then Pavlov tested this idea on dogs. Just note: dogs usually salivate when they see food. (For you: the good feeling you get from talking with a friend). But what Pavlov did was, he rang a bell right before he gave the food to the dogs. (For you: the ringtone or vibration you hear or feel before you check that message out).
Then after some time when the bell was rung, the dogs would salivate even when the dog food was no where to be found. The dogs have been conditioned to associate the bell with the dog food. (For you: You have been conditioned to associate that ringtone or vibration with a good feeling.)
So what now then? How do we condition ourselves to get rid of this bad habit? One way is to put your phone on silent or turn it off when you are working or whenever you don’t want to be distracted. If you get rid of the stimulus, it won’t trigger the reaction of wanting that good feeling.
Now it won’t be easy at first, cause change is always hard to do because your brain doesn’t like change too much. So if you get that urge to just check your phone while working, just ask yourself this one question. Do you want to waste your precious time, which you will never get back, or do you want to make progress in whatever you want to do?
2. Checking your emails is a priority…hmm get rich and lose weight in 24 hours? I’ll just click that for a second…
Unless you have an extremely important email or subscribed to an amazing newsletter that improves your life, checking your emails should be the last thing you do for the day. When you check your emails, you should understand that you are wasting precious time and energy. Meaning for some reason you don’t feel like working as much anymore after you checked your emails and clicked on 20 links. (exaggerating…or am I?)
Now I understand that some of you don’t want to have so many emails that are unopened or you feel like you will miss out on something. So what you should do is unsubscribe to emails that provide you no value in your life. Unsubscribe from emails that are there just for the sake of getting something out of you.
Next, for any important event, mark them down in your calendar or on a post-it note placed somewhere you will definitely see it. Some examples: On your computer monitor, on the mirror in bathroom, or on your desk. Or if you have a smart phone, you can place any important events in the calendar app.
3. Mixing work time and me time…wait a second, I just have to watch that new episode of House of Cards.
Sometimes you just want to drop whatever you are doing and just relax for a moment. However that “moment” turns into the whole day or more time than you expected for some reason. And I will explain why.
Sometimes you will associate work with a negative connotation and a majority of the people does, so don’t worry about that too much right now. But when you mix it with “me” time, which you associate with a positive connotation, the “me” time begins to take over and all of a sudden you don’t even want to work anymore.
People naturally dislike things that cause them to feel pain or be uncomfortable and want to move towards things that makes them feel good or comfortable. So when you mix work time with “me” time, you begin to shift more towards your “me” time since you naturally want to experience things that makes you feel good or comfortable. Think of it like this, which would you rather do, relax or work?
So what I do to fix this problem is I always work first because if you relax before you work, you will have an urge to relax more when you’re working. (It’s like a drug, when you get that first taste you just want more.) Another reason to always work first is to reward yourself for working by going into your “me” time. You earned it, meaning you got a lot of work done and you get to relax. (Win-Win Situation)
4. Constantly checking your social media…hold on I just got a notification from Facebook.
It was a comment on my new profile picture! Anyways forming this habit isn’t your fault either, like the first habit. (checking your phone) It has the same reasoning as the first habit, the Pavlovian Conditioning, and more. Basically the notification is the stimulus you associate with that good feeling, and all the same reasonings I mentioned as the first habit.
However what makes checking your social media worse, is that you peek into the lives of other people, mostly your friends. And you begin to compare your life with theirs, which is never a good thing. One note: Successful people do not compare themselves with other people. They only focus on themselves and how they can improve themselves to get the things they want from life. They don’t care too much about what other people are doing with their lives because they are so focused on their path and their mission and their vision.
Anyways, if you are leading a life that isn’t as exciting or fun as some of your most extroverted friends, you begin to feel bad. And when you begin to feel bad you are less motivated to work, meaning you are less productive. (I will go more into this in the last habit.)
5. Winging it…no plan or strategy? Who needs them? Me? I just go with the flow.
Winging it or going with the flow is something you don’t do while trying to work or finishing any assignment. Now you might think it’s a hassle to come up with a plan or strategy and you just want to get it over with.
But you are doing a huge disservice to yourself. Having a plan or, even better, a step-by-step plan will significantly increase your productivity especially if the thing you are working on is a lot of work. The bigger the work, the more parts you should split it into with major steps you need to have done.
Just ask yourself what is a reasonable amount of major steps needed to get this work done. Then ask yourself what major things do I need to complete the first step. Then write those down and fill in the rest of the minor details if needed.
6. Multitasking…I’m just texting my friend, writing this article, checking my emails and Facebook, reading articles from lifehack.org (obviously), eating lunch, and learning how to lose weight.
As you see with this very long sub-heading, multitasking can overwhelm you fast. You might think you are being productive doing all these things at the same time but you are doing more harm than good. I can go into all the scientific reasonings behind this but I’m going to keep it nice and simple.
Basically you are splitting your focus more and more as you perform more tasks. So if you are doing two tasks, you are splitting your focus into two. If you are doing three tasks, you are splitting your focus into three. And so on. Imagine how horribly you’d perform if 1/3 or even 1/2 of your focus was on your work. You begin to make simple mistakes that you would never make if you put your complete focus on that task.
You fix this horrible habit by placing your complete focus on one task at a time. Focus on only one task and exit everything out. Now if you do things one at a time and you plan ahead, you seem to have a lot of time left on your hands.
7. Having a huge To-Do List…I have like 15 tasks…what’s on Netflix?
Now you might think you are being productive having a huge to-do list because you are constantly working. But when the day is starting to end and you still haven’t even checked half of your to-do list, you will feel overwhelmed.
When you start feeling overwhelmed you just want to quit. And when you want to quit, Netflix starts to look like a safe haven. So what you should do is have a to-do list that is around 3 – 5 tasks of the most important things you need to do. And if you finish those tasks early, you can add more tasks depending on how much time you have left.
8. Being indecisive…hmmm should I go to the gym or not…
Being indecisive can makes the most productive day into one of the most unproductive days. You start going through all pros and cons until you finally make a decision. You might be thinking that carefully thinking about your decision is extremely important but there is a limit.
If you carefully think about a decision for 15 minutes, then you will probably feel lethargic and tired. The longer you go through the pros and cons, the more it eats up your willpower, energy, and motivation.
So how can you fix this? Now most of the decisions we have to make don’t require us to think about it for a long time. So when you are about to make a decision, get a timer. (on your phone or just look at the clock) Set it to 2 – 4 minutes and decide within that time limit.
Now if you have to make an important decision, write it down somewhere, and finish your work first. You want to finish any work you can because this decision will take a large chunk of your willpower, energy, and motivation. You don’t want to work without willpower, energy, and motivation. (I will explain further in the last habit.)
9. Being sleep deprived…sleep? Sleep is sooo overrated these days. Coffee is all I need.
Now you might be sleep deprived from working way too much. You might be thinking more work = more productive. But if the work interferes with sleep, then something has to change. Being sleep deprived is like being drunk. Do you think you can be productive when you are drunk?
So how can we fix this issue? First, you have to sleep a minimum of 7 hours and a max of 9 hours. So schedule your bedtime! Figure out what time you have to wake up and work backwards. So if you have to wake up at 10am then you have to the sleep at 3am but you can sleep at 1am. (If you want to be really rested)
Also note that you shouldn’t be using any electronics before you are about to sleep. It will be a lot harder to fall asleep. So you should meditate 15 – 30 minutes before you go to sleep to help you fall asleep.
10. Procrastinating…I’ll let the tomorrow me worry about that big assignment due tomorrow.
Now this one is just obvious but so many people procrastinate. But do you know why people procrastinate? Well I already listed a majority of the reasons. (indecisive, sleep deprived, huge to-do list, checking phone and social media) But mainly people feel overwhelmed when they want to procrastinate, and unless they feel any urgency they won’t do the task they need to do.
So how can we approach this problem in a smarter way? Well you can break that assignment that makes you feel overwhelmed into smaller doable steps. The bigger the assignment the more steps there will be. (obviously) Then you plan when you are going to finish each of these steps. If you get like 24 small steps then you want to spread out the steps over the week. I’m sure you can do 3 – 4 steps each day. So by the end of the week you finished that big assignment.
11. Trying to be productive all day…got my 10 cups of coffee and my giant to do list, it’s game time!
Ever tried to be productive all day? I bet you felt great! Just kidding. I bet you felt worse and worse as time seemed to only slow down. But you are probably thinking you are really productive with all the work you are doing.
If your brain is constantly working non-step, your productivity over time decreases because you are not meant to be constantly working. You are not a robot, you are a human being! Unless you want to start to become groggy, then question the meaning of life, and then start seeing and hearing things that do not exist, don’t work non-stop.
Anyways what you want to do is to include 15 – 45 minute breaks between 1 – 4 hours of work time. Mix this with #10’s solution on big assignments and you are golden.
12. Working in a negative state… there’s so much work to do! I’ll never get it done!
Now that I got that out of the way, many of us are guilty of this at least at one point in our lives. And it doesn’t even have to be caused by your work. It can be caused by anything that makes you go into a bad mood. Once you are in a bad mood or in a negative state your productivity plummets.
Your productivity plummets because your motivation is essentially nonexistent. And when your motivation is nonexistent, you don’t even want to work at all or perform at your best. Meaning you work a lot slower.
Think about it, who is more productive and essentially better. Person A who is in a negative state (bad mood, unmotivated, or depressed) or person B who is in a positive state (excited, pumped, motivated and feeling great)? I know for a fact that person B will be more productive and better. So how do you shock yourself into a positive state if you are in a negative state?
Well you do anything physical. But first imagine the last time you felt happy and just smile remembering that moment. It’s been proven that if you smile, its really hard to be mad unless you fake your smile.
Now here are some methods to shock yourself back into an amazing state:
- Go outside and sprint for 1 – 2 blocks while thinking about something that made you really happy. (And I mean sprint like you are in the Olympics!)
- Listen to music that makes you feel happy or excited and just start dancing and/or singing
- Give a victorious shout like you just won the gold medal in the Olympics.
- Do any kind of fast and sudden movement like a karate chop.
- Jump and scream for joy like you just lottery
So now you got all the tools you need to be productive as hell. Go out there and kill ’em with your productivity!
Featured photo credit: When You Don’t Want To Be Productive via flickr.com