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10 Statements That Kill Your Productivity

10 Statements That Kill Your Productivity

Productivity is usually associated to the amount of useful work done, targets accomplished and goals achieved. But in this world of distractions, where a million things are competing for each second of your attention, the focus span is reducing and getting some actual work done is increasingly becoming a battle against time. Things could be better though if we knew beforehand about these little monster killers of our time and energy, and the answer to the million dollar question we often ask ourselves; ”where did the day go?”

Here’s a list of 10 statements that account for poor productivity in our daily life:

1. I can’t do this now! 

Some people spend the whole day jumping from one mail to the other and finishing one task to start the next and still at the end of the day when they take stock of the work done, they realize they haven’t achieved much of what they set out to. It’s because they are exercising, what I like to call, second degree procrastination, the one in which you pass on the most important tasks of the day to do some other light work either because your main work is too complex or time consuming. They beat the bush playing around small tasks and answering simple e-mails which do not require much focus or work.

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2. I can finish all of this at once!

Much as we would like to, aren’t physically and mentally built to handle too many things at a time. Doing so results in lack of focused work, mistakes, forgetting things and anxiety. It is important to stick to what you are doing and take it to the finish before you pick something else up.

3. Got a lot to do, no breaks today!

Taking a break is not necessarily a waste of time or a time to chit chat and make unnecessary conversations On the contrary, taking healthy breaks and making for some no-work zones in your every day schedule allows you the breathing space to relax, rejuvenate and take stock of your projects progress and your own performance.

4. No schedules for me, I am flexible!

Some people believe that restricting their work in schedules and binding it in to-do lists are an impediment that does not allows them to do a lot. In reality, your mind is great at executing patterns and following routines. Organizing your days work in a sequence, defining boundaries to obstruct unnecessary tasks and establishing a structure around your work can greatly improve your efficiency.

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5. It’s all in my mind, I remember everything!

If you are used to going around with a mind that is full of ideas, thoughts and to-do lists, you are less likely to focus on the task at hand. Do a brain drain and write down everything on paper or just email a list to yourself. Work light headed!

6. It’s just a little time on the net!

OfficeTime.net conducted a survey of over 600 small business owners, freelancers and professionals and found out that an average person spends at least two hours per day surfing the Internet. That’s a lot of time! A little Facebook, twitter here, a little YouTube, Amazon there can eventually all add up.

Define boundaries around your work, deter those interruptions, put the phone on silence, turn off those notifications and block the sites that consume your precious minutes.

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7. I will complete all the major work today!

Trying to execute tasks throughout the day can be counterproductive as we do not have the same energy levels all through the day. This requires understanding your body and the hours you feel energized maximum. It is advisable to deal with complex tasks when you have your energy at the highest, and when the energy is waning away, is the time we should assign for work that does not require too much mental effort or is light work.

8. I believe in finishing- as- you- go!

Such impulsive workers take up impromptu meetings, leave the work at hand to cater to phone calls and respond to mails and texts during meetings. In short, they pick up any form of unscheduled work, taking up tasks at random without really assigning any priority to them on a first come, first serve basis. This is a major enemy that can affect your performance.

Control that impulse, assign priorities and start with finishing what is critical and needs to be finished before EOD.

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9. I will skip that Lunch/breakfast!

Feeling overwhelmed with meetings, emails and phone calls…..presentation lined up back to back, no time for food today please!

If you find yourself allowing for such mini hunger strikes on a busy day, it can backfire and you can end up making mistakes and losing focus. Your body needs both food and rest to perform at its best. A lack of any of the two can result in decreased energy and even sickness.

10. I can do that, No problem!

If you accept everything that comes your way then you are more likely to put up a bad show. It can be difficult for some people to exercise “NO” and they end up having too much on their plate. Everyone around you is happy but now you are stuck with more work and less time. Not a very appealing situation to be in!

Know your limits, learn to turn down irrelevant commitments, let go of all that is unnecessary, freeing up more time for what’s important.

Avoid these productivity killers to get more done with less efforts and lesser stress.

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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