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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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Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

There’s a dark side to the conveniences of the Digital Age. With smartphones that function like handheld computers, it has become increasingly difficult to leave our work behind. Sometimes it seems like we’re expected to be accessible 24/7.

How often are you ever focused on just one thing? Most of us try to meet these demands by multi-tasking.

Many of us have bought into the myth that we can achieve more through multi-tasking. In this article, I’ll show you how you can accomplish more work in less time. Spoiler alert: multi-tasking is not the answer.

Why is multitasking a myth?

The term “multi-tasking” was originally used to describe how microprocessors in computers work. Machines multitask, but people cannot.

Despite our inability to simultaneously perform two tasks at once, many people believe they are excellent multi-taskers.

You can probably imagine plenty of times when you do several things at once. Maybe you talk on the phone while you’re cooking or respond to emails during your commute.

Consider the amount of attention that each of these tasks requires. Chances are, at least one of the two tasks in question is simple enough to be carried out on autopilot.

We’re okay at simultaneously performing simple tasks, but what if you were trying to perform two complex tasks? Can you really work on your presentation and watch a movie at the same time? It can be fun to try to watch TV while you work, but you may be unintentionally making your work more difficult and time-consuming.

Your brain on multi-tasking

Your brain wasn’t designed to multi-tasking. To compensate, it will switch from task to task. Your focus turns to whatever task seems more urgent. The other task falls into the background until you realize you’ve been neglecting it.

When you’re bouncing back and forth like this, an area of the brain known as Broadmann’s Area 10 activates. Located in your fronto-polar prefrontal cortex at the very front of the brain, this area controls your ability to shift focus. People who think they are excellent multitaskers are really just putting Broadmann’s Area 10 to work.

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But I can juggle multiple tasks!

You are capable of taking in information with your eyes while doing other things efficiently. Scientifically speaking, making use of your vision is the only thing you can truly do while doing something else.

For everything else, you’re serial tasking. This constant refocusing can be exhausting, and it prevents us from giving our work the deep attention it deserves.

Think about how much longer it takes to do something when you have to keep reminding yourself to focus.

Why multitasking is failing you

Multitasking does more bad than good to your productivity, here’re 4 reasons why you should stop multitasking:

Multitasking wastes your time.

You lose time when you interrupt yourself. People lose an average of 2.1 hours per day getting themselves back on track when they switch between tasks.

In fact, some studies suggest that doing multiple things at once decreases your productivity by as much as 40%. That’s a significant loss in efficiency. You wouldn’t want your surgeon to be 40% less productive while you’re on the operating table, would you?

It makes you dumber.

A distracted brain performs a full 10 IQ points lower than a focused brain. You’ll also be more forgetful, slower at completing tasks, and more likely to make mistakes.

You’ll have to work harder to fix your mistakes. If you miss an important detail, you could risk injury or fail to complete the task properly.

This is an emotional response.

There’s so much data suggesting that multitasking is ineffective but people insist that they can multitask.

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Feeling productive fulfills an emotional need. We want to feel like we’re accomplishing something. Why accomplish just one item on the to-do list when you can check off two or three?

It’ll wear you out.

When you’re jumping from task to task, it can feel invigorating for a little while. Over time, this needs to fill every second with more and more work leads to burn out.

We’re simply not built to multitask, so when we try, the effect can be exhausting. This destroys your productivity and your motivation.

How to stop multitasking and work productively

Flitting back and forth between tasks feels second-nature after a while. This is in part because Broadmann’s Area 10 becomes better at serial tasking through time.

In addition to changing how the brain works, this serial tasking behavior can quickly turn into a habit.

Just like any bad habit, you’ll need to recognize that you need to make a change first. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to adjust to a lifestyle of productive mono-tasking:

1. Consciously change gears

Instead of trying to work on two distinct tasks at once, consider setting up a system to remind you when to change focus. This technique worked for Jerry Linenger, an American astronaut onboard the space station, Mir.

As an astronaut, he had many things to take care of every day. He set alarms for himself on a few watches. When a particular watch sounded, he knew it was time to switch tasks. This enabled him to be 100% in tune with what he was doing at any given moment.

This strategy is effective because the alarm served as his reminder for what was to come next. Linenger’s intuition about setting reminders falls in line with research conducted by Paul Burgess of University College, London on multitasking.

2. Manage multiple tasks without multitasking

Raj Dash of Performancing.com has an effective strategy for balancing multiple projects without multitasking. He suggests taking 15 minutes to acquaint yourself with a new project before moving on to other work. Revisit the project later and do about thirty minutes on research and brainstorming.

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Allow a few days to pass before knocking out the project in question. While you were actively work on other projects, your brain continues to problem solve-in the background.

This method works because it gives us the opportunity to work on several projects without allowing them to compete for your attention.

3. Set aside distractions

Your smartphone, your inbox and the open tabs on your computer are all open invitations for distraction. Give yourself time each day when you silence your notifications, close your inbox and remove unnecessary tabs from your desktop.

If you want to focus, you can’t give anything else an opportunity to invade your mental space.

Emails can be particularly invasive because they often have an unnecessary sense of urgency associated with them. Some work cultures stress the importance of prompt responses to these messages, but we can’t treat every situation like an emergency.

Designate certain times in your day for checking and responding to emails to avoid compulsive checking.

4. Take care of yourself

We often blame electronics for pulling us from our work, but sometimes our physical body forces us into a state of serial tasking. If you’re hungry while you’re trying to work, your attention will flip between your hunger and your work until you take care of your physical needs.

Try to take all your bio-breaks before you sit down for an uninterrupted stint of work.

In addition, you’ll also want to be sure you’re attending to your health in a broader sense. Getting enough exercise, practicing mindfulness and incorporating regular breaks into your day will keep you from being tempted by distractions.

5. Take a break

People are more likely to head to YouTube or check their social media when they need a break. Instead of trying to work and watch a mindless video at the same time, give yourself times when you’re allowed to enjoy your distracting activity of choice.

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Limit how much time you’ll spend on this break so that your guilt-free distraction time doesn’t turn into hours of wasted time.

6. Make technology your ally

Scientists are beginning to discover the detrimental effects of chronic serial tasking on our brains. Some companies are developing programs to curb this desire to multitask.

Apps like Forest turn staying focused into a game. Extensions like RescueTime help you track your online habits so that you can be more aware of how you spend your time.

The key to productivity: Focus

Multitasking is not the key to productivity. It’s far better to schedule time to focus on each task than it is to try to do everything at once.

Make use of the methods outlined above and prepare to be more effective and less exhausted in the process.

If you want to learn more about how to focus, don’t miss my other article:

How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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