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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 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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