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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 January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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