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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 July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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