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15 Bad Habits Which Always Destroy Your Productivity

15 Bad Habits Which Always Destroy Your Productivity

Do you feel as if your productivity levels are at an all time low? Do you find it more and more difficult to complete work in a timely, and efficient fashion? You might be sabotaging your productivity without even realizing it. Avoid these 15 bad habits and you’ll give your productivity a much-needed boost!

1. You take too much time to complete a simple task.

Taking six hours to write a simple, one-page e-mail really isn’t the best use of your time. Putting in more hours into your work doesn’t always mean you’ll get better results. Sometimes you just have to stop what you’re doing and move onto something else, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Chances are, your work is probably good enough, anyway.

2. You’re too hard on yourself when you don’t finish your work.

There will be times when you just can’t complete your work in a timely fashion. It could be because of a work, family or other kind of emergency. If this is the case, don’t harp on the situation. Sometimes that’s just how things go. So, what can you do? Get yourself refocused. Pick up where you last left off and continue on with your work. Complaining won’t get things done.

3. You spend your entire day planning.

Do you stare at your schedule, thinking about how best to use every last minute of your day? Do you spend hours upon hours adjusting project spreadsheets and Gantt charts? While planning is an important part of work, it’s not the only part. You also have to take action and actually do those things you’ve so carefully planned! Lay the plans aside and get to work.

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4. You sit at your desk for hours on end.

Quick, when was the last time you left your desk for a break? Sorry, restroom breaks and getting a stack of printouts from the photocopier don’t count! You need to take regular, non-work breaks. Give your eyes a break from staring at the computer screen or slaving over your workstation. Get up, do some light stretches and go outside for a quick walk. The change of scenery and fresh air will help to refresh your mind and body.

5. You regularly skip meals.

You need food – and water – to survive. Period. If you’re not eating meals on a regular basis, you’re probably not being as productive as you could be. Don’t skip meals in lieu of working and be sure to take your full meal breaks. While you’re at it, get away from your desk or workspace and eat somewhere else, like a cafeteria, outdoors or in a public park for a break from the office.

6. You force yourself to use a productivity app you don’t like.

Is there an app on your phone, tablet or computer that you absolutely despise? If you dislike using it so much, why do you use it at all? Who cares if the app has been listed #1 in your phone’s app store for the past two years or rated highly by productivity experts? It doesn’t mean that you absolutely have to use it. There are literally hundreds of apps out there for you download and try out. Find something you like and you’ll be more apt to use it.

7. You sit around waiting for the perfect moment to begin something.

When’s the perfect moment to start planning your dream vacation, clean out your closet or look for that new job? You could spend years upon years waiting for that so-called “perfect moment.” The truth is, the perfect moment is right now. Stop waiting, and start working towards your goals, big and small, professional and personal. You’ll be glad you did!

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8. You check your email every two minutes.

E-mail is a tool that should be used to help you do your work, not distract you from your work. Turn off e-mail alerts and updates, or log out of e-mail programs entirely. Limit checking your e-mail to only a few times each day, so you so you can focus on getting things done.

9. You work on the first thing that comes across your desk.

Do you start working on the first item you receive in your e-mail inbox? How about tackling that non-urgent memo sitting on your desk? Make a point to begin your day or work sessions by identifying your own specific goals and tasks. You’ll get a lot more done than if you just reacted and started working on the first task that came across your path.

10. You multitask.

Working on a report, surfing the ‘net, talking on the phone with your client and texting your boss…task overload! Stop trying to do so many different things at once. You’ll get your work done faster if you do things one at a time, carefully. If you’re afraid you’ll forget what you need to do, jot down a mini to-do list on a sticky note to get the tasks out of your head. Then, it’s time to get work.

11. You walk into meetings unprepared.

Do you waltz into meetings without knowing what they are about? Sure, it takes time to review meeting materials and become acquainted with the goals of any meeting. But if you don’t, you’ll just be wasting your time and other people’s time when you’re sitting in the conference room. It’s worth taking a few moments to get yourself prepared so you can have a fruitful meeting.

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12. You don’t review your calendar.

From meetings and appointments to events and interviews, your calendar can tell you exactly where you should be and what you should be doing at any given point in time. However, if you don’t review your calendar, you won’t know what to prepare, where to travel, or what to do. Just taking a couple of minutes to review your schedule at the beginning of every day can be a great help to your productivity.

13. You blame your tools.

Ever hear of the saying, “a poor workman blames his tools”? Instead of practicing his craft, the workman blames his tools for his poor work habits and/or incompetence. When things aren’t going as well as they should be, stop for a moment and ask yourself whether you are doing everything in your power to be a better worker through practice, rehearsal and the like…or you are simply blaming your tools.

14. You wait until the very last minute to start something.

Stop deferring work until a later date and start working on a project the very same day you receive it. You’ll have started work on your project in the simplest, and easiest way possible. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it, just write down a couple of ideas or do a bit of quick research.

15. You refuse to learn new skills.

You can benefit greatly from learning a few new skills or techniques that relate to your everyday work. These skills don’t have to be complicated, they can just be simple, everyday things, such as learning how to touch type, use the photocopier, or resize photographs on your computer.

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Which bad productivity habits are you most interested in leaving behind? What are you going to do to change things? Leave a comment below.

Featured photo credit: Caucasian man listening to the music and texting with smartphone while sitting in the cafe via shutterstock.com

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Rashelle Isip

Blogger, Consultant, and Author

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

How to Develop Mental Toughness And Stay Strong

How to Develop Mental Toughness And Stay Strong

Are you the kind of person who wants to achieve massive success in your life? Do you have the mental toughness to make that happen?

I think we can all agree that no matter your ambitions, achieving success can be difficult; and over time, the daily grind can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional energy.

Achievers and high performers from all walks of life face ups and downs along the path to success—they face failure, burnout, discouragement, fatigue, self-limiting beliefs, stress, and so much more.

How do some people continually strive towards their personal goals year after year while others give up on them? How do those people stay strong and persevere when there is so much stacked against them?

Studies now show that mental strength is a critical key to success. If you haven’t read Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, you should. In it, she shows that “the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls ‘grit.’” In other words, mental toughness plays a significant role when it comes to achieving goals.

Sometimes, our goals wear us down and leave us feeling exhausted. Other times, our goals get difficult, and success seems impossible, so we lose hope, become discouraged, and want to quit.

At its core, mental toughness is simply the ability to stick to something when the going gets tough. People with high levels of mental toughness can push beyond these obstacles and forge a path towards success while those with lower levels of mental toughness may abandon their dreams.

Want to know the good news?

No matter who you are, what you’ve been told, or what you currently believe, you can develop the mental toughness you need to be successful.

All you need to do is learn to develop a positive mindset, focus on your why, and utilize the people around you for support.

1. Develop a Positive Mindset

If you’re going to increase your mental toughness, the first thing you have to do is focus on building a strong, positive mindset.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the average person has 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 95% of those thoughts repeat each day and, on average, 80% of repeated ideas are negative.[1]

That’s roughly 45,600 negative thoughts per day!

Carrying around these negative thoughts is like going on a hike in the mountains with a backpack full of rocks. The hike is hard enough on its own, but having extra junk weighing you down is a recipe for failure.

Sometimes, building mental toughness isn’t as much about building new strength as it is about saving your strength for the right tasks. Wouldn’t it be easier to dump the rocks out of the backpack instead of trying to get strong enough to carry the extra weight?

Absolutely!

But how can we learn to spot those 45,600 negative thoughts and get rid of them? How can we empty our metaphorical backpack?

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Well, it gets a whole lot easier if you know what you’re looking for. Some of the most prominent types of negative thoughts are self-limiting beliefs, all-or-nothing thinking, and dwelling.

Let Go of Self-Limiting Beliefs

It’s pretty hard to be mentally tough when you’re constantly beating yourself up. Self-limiting beliefs are any beliefs that hold you back in some way. Here are some examples:

“I’m not smart enough to…”

“I don’t have enough experience to…”

“I’ve tried that before, and it didn’t go well, so I must just be bad at…”

When we allow these self-limiting beliefs to flood our minds, negative self-talk runs rampant, and we crowd out our ability to think positively. We’re effectively working against ourselves.

If you want to keep your mind strong on your path to success, you have to overcome the self-limiting beliefs that are holding you back by realizing one key truth: self-limiting beliefs are thoughts, not facts.

When you recognize a self-limiting belief cropping up in your mind, quickly silence it by telling yourself that it’s not true and then back that up with some positive affirmations:

  • “I am smart enough; I may just need to do some more research first.”
  • “I may not have as much experience as someone else, but that’s not going to stop me from trying. I have enough experience to get started. I’ll figure the rest out on the way.”
  • “Just because I failed at this last time doesn’t mean I’m going to fail this time. My past does not dictate my future.”

Get Rid of the All-or-Nothing Thinking

Another form of negative thinking that could be preventing you from building mental toughness is all-or-nothing thinking.

All-or-nothing thinking is the concept of thinking in extremes. You are either a success or a failure. Your performance was totally good or totally awful. If you’re not perfect, then you’re a failure.

But this isn’t true!

If you’re trying to lose 30 pounds and only lost 28, isn’t that still better than not losing any weight at all? I’d say so!

If you allow all-or-nothing thinking to rule your mind, you’ll be on cloud nine when you succeed, but you’ll beat yourself up when you “fail.” Acknowledging the shades of gray in between will allow you to see success more often and it will help you celebrate your smaller wins.

When you recognize an all-or-nothing thought, remember to look for the positive in the situation. What did you gain by trying? What would you have missed out on had you not tried? Could you do better if you were to try again?

Ditch the Dwelling

Self-Limiting Beliefs and All-or-Nothing Thinking can lead to a bad case of dwelling on the negative. If you want to build some mental toughness and keep your mind strong, you have to ditch the dwelling.

Every day, bad things happen to each of us, and while there’s nothing we can do to prevent that, we can control how we react to these situations.

When we dwell on our misfortunes, we waste massive amounts of energy that we could be using to achieve our goals. When this happens, we’re more likely to quit altogether.

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But that doesn’t mean you’re not mentally tough; it just means you’re misusing your energy.

The next time something bad happens, it’s important to allow yourself to feel the disappointment and frustration, but work on reducing the amount of time you dwell on the situation.

Easier said than done, right? Try these:

  1. Call a friend or mentor and talk it through with them. Get some outside perspective on your situation.
  2. Time block your dwelling by allowing yourself to dwell for no more than one hour.
  3. Then, tell yourself to move on, that you’re human, and you’re allowed to make mistakes or experience setbacks.
  4. If all else fails, find a good way to distract yourself until you can calm down and reexamine things with a clear mind.

The faster you can focus on the positives and move past the problem, the quicker you can get back to achieving success in your life.

Be Patient about the Process

No matter which negative thoughts tend to run around your mind, working to replace them with positive thoughts can take time.

Learning to spot self-limiting beliefs, all-or-nothing thinking, or dwelling is one thing, but learning to quiet those thoughts is another thing entirely.

If at first you don’t succeed, don’t fret. Instead, take a deep breath and try again. As you work towards improving your mindfulness and your mental toughness, remember that you’re going to get better with time.

To make things a little easier, it helps to connect with your purpose.

2. Connect with Your Purpose

One of the most critical elements to building mental toughness and keeping a strong and focused mind is having a strong ‘why’ for everything you want to do.

If you set out to achieve a huge goal that you don’t have a ‘why’ for, you’re going to find yourself distracted, discouraged, or disengaged as soon as you experience your first setback.

Think about the last time you were working on a goal or resolution and things weren’t going well, maybe you even wanted to quit. Perhaps you thought you didn’t have enough willpower. Maybe you told yourself that you didn’t have enough discipline.

Here’s the truth: you just didn’t have a strong enough why.

Simon Sinek has been spreading his message “Start with Why” across the globe.[2] In short, he says that:

“Your ‘why’ is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you.”

One of the biggest drains on your mental energy is pursuing a goal or a task that you don’t have a ‘why’ for. This is when we tend to look for external motivation or question our willpower, but those aren’t the issues.

Often, we set goals because we like the idea of the goal, not the reality of the goal. Without connecting to our why, we can’t intrinsically motivate ourselves to achieve our most challenging goals.

Find Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is our innate desire to do something and it comes when we work towards something that satisfies ourselves above all else—not our parents or our bosses or our teachers.

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Let’s say you think you want to quit smoking because you know it’s bad for you, but you really enjoy smoking. If you don’t truly want to quit smoking, it’s going to be nearly impossible, regardless of your willpower or mental toughness.

But if you want to quit smoking because you just had a baby, and you don’t want your baby growing up around smoke, then that ‘why’ is going to give you intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is far more powerful than sheer stubborn willpower, and it’s far easier to maintain over the long haul.

If you’re trying to develop mental toughness, connecting a why to everything you want to achieve will reduce the effort and energy it will take to achieve those things. Once you’ve found a strong why for all of your goals, you’ll find that you’ll have significantly more energy to pursue your more difficult challenges.

3. Find Strength in Unity

The final aspect of developing mental toughness is embracing the idea that you’re not in this alone. It’s a fact, anyone who’s ever achieved success in anything didn’t do so alone.

Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft alone. Oprah didn’t build her network by herself. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPhone without a team. Michelle Obama didn’t implement the “Let’s Move” campaign on her own.

Behind all of these successful people were countless other people who were there offering support, mentorship, guidance, and encouragement.

If you want to develop unmatched mental toughness, you need to understand that you don’t have to go it alone. Even the toughest Navy Seals have a team backing them up.

If you want to stay strong in your endeavors, you need to build a team of supporters who will step in and back you up when it counts.

Find a Mentor or Committee of Mentors

The benefits of having a great mentor are far too many to list, but to boil it down to the basics, a mentor is someone who will help show you the path to success.

A good mentor will help you discover your greatest strengths, spot and overcome your blind spots, and work through your weaknesses.

If you’re struggling to deal with your internal negativity or with finding your purpose, talk it through with a mentor. Sometimes we lose the forest for the trees, and a mentor can help us take a step back and see the bigger picture.

Here’s how to find the right mentor for yourself: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

Recruit Some Cheerleaders

If you want to stay strong, it never hurts to have a group of personal cheerleaders. Unlike mentors who are going to jump in and help you address your problems, a group of cheerleaders will help keep your spirits up.

Even if you have a strong ‘why’ and a positive mindset, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a positive attitude 100% of the time. It doesn’t make you weak to need some help from time to time. Having a group of people cheering you on will make all the difference in the world.

As you work towards your goals, tell a few close friends about what you’re doing, and when things get tough, tell them about it. And when they give you the pep talk you need, don’t resist their positivity or counter it with your self-limiting beliefs or your all-or-nothing attitude.

Allow their optimism to refill your energy and use that energy to press on.

Form an Accountability Group

Cheerleaders are great, but sometimes we need someone to give us the kick we need to keep going. You might have a strong ‘why’ for running a marathon or losing 30 pounds, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy; and trying to force yourself to follow through is a sure way to tax your mental energy.

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Why not save some of your mental energy by forming an accountability group?

Find a person or a few people who have similar goals, or at the very least, the need for an accountability partner. Then, form an agreement within the group to push each other every day.

Even if your goals aren’t the same, accountability partners are great for giving us the push we need when we need it most.

Regardless of which relationships you choose, sometimes we have to be able to work through things on our own. Mentors, cheerleaders, and accountability partners are a great way for us to combat our naturally negative mindsets, but occasionally we have to be able to pick ourselves back up.

4. Learn to Pick Yourself Back Up After Setbacks

Building a strong mindset and developing mental toughness isn’t easy! Anyone who’s ever achieved massive success knows that obstacles, setbacks, and failure are inevitable, and you’re no different.

As you work on your goals, you’re going to face many ups and downs, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have mental toughness, willpower, or discipline.

We all struggle. We all fail. It’s what we decide to do after we fail that truly counts.

When you find yourself in a low spot, ask yourself these questions:

  • “Am I being too hard on myself?”
  • “Are negative thoughts such as Self-Limiting Beliefs or All-or-Nothing Thinking distorting my view?”
  • “What’s the positive side of this setback/obstacle/failure?”
  • “Why was this goal important to me? What was my purpose?”
  • “Is this goal still important to me? Do I still have a ‘why’?”
  • “Who can I ask for help? Who can mentor me or cheer me on? Who can help hold me accountable?”

Asking yourself these questions is a great way to check in on your mindset. When we get lost in negative thinking or lose connection to our purpose, it’s far too easy to become discouraged. When we feel discouraged, we start feeling weak, maybe even a little hopeless.

Also, this article provides some useful tips to help you get back on track: How to Deal with Failure and Pick Yourself Back Up

Tying it All Together

Are you still with me? I know I’ve thrown a lot at you, from developing a positive mindset and combatting your internal voice to connecting with purpose and building a committee of mentors. It’s a lot to take it!

But here’s the bottom line:

A crucial part of developing mental toughness is learning to recognize these tendencies and taking action to correct them early on. Developing mental toughness is not about eliminating weakness, but learning how to deal with it and overcome it.

No one is perfect, but when we focus on the right things, we can develop a mental toughness worthy of life’s biggest challenges.

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Featured photo credit: Zulmaury Saavedra via unsplash.com

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