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20 Unproductive Habits You Should Let Go of

20 Unproductive Habits You Should Let Go of
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Do you feel like everyone around you is getting stuff done, and you’re, well, not? It’s likely you’ve got one (or several) unproductive habits that aren’t helping matters. Below is a round-up of 20 common unproductive habits you should let go of, stat.

1. Allowing distractions.

Distractions are something we all face–but there’s no law saying you have to cater to them. Just because someone calls, texts, or knocks on your door doesn’t mean you have to drop what you’re doing right that second. You can get back to them during your next break.

2. Not setting goals.

Until you turn what you want into concrete goals to achieve, it’s likely they’ll remain a vague generalization you’ll sigh about from time to time.

3. Setting too many goals.

On the flip side, you don’t want to set so many goals you’re unable to focus a solid amount of time on them–this sorta defeats the purpose. Quality over quantity always wins out.

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4. Procrastinating.

The more you put something off, the less you’re going to feel like doing it. Trust me: the relief you feel once it’s done is well worth the temporary torture.

5. Watching too much television.

If you feel more connected to the characters on your shows than your real friends, it might be time to switch things up a bit.

6. Skipping meals.

There were days I’d get so into what I was writing, I’d forget to eat! (Gasp! I know, right?) Without proper nutrition you send your adrenal glands into overdrive, which depletes your energy and eventually leads to burn-out.

7. Spending recklessly.

When your finances are in disarray, you don’t stand a chance. Keeping your finances organized should be as much a priority as your health.

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8. Dropping everything for other people.

You are in complete control of your life. Respect your time–it’s your most valuable commodity.

9. Not writing anything down.

Writing things down helps you remember what you need (and want) to accomplish. Plus, it’s the best way to keep your mind clear to focus on what you’re doing in the moment.

10. Not having structure.

You don’t need to set a rigid schedule for yourself, Sergeant Crazy! Creating a general morning and evening routine will give you creative pillars to depend on so you can take more risks throughout the day.

11. Not taking breaks.

Your mind and body need a chance to rest, no matter how brief. When you start feeling restless, take a small breather to regroup instead of burning out entirely.

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12. Multitasking.

Again and again, studies show dividing your focus leads to lower quality work, and not to mention, loads of mental stress. Single-tasking not only gives your noggin a rest, it also gives you a greater sense of accomplishment.

13. Making time for personal tasks.

What’s the point of working hard if you’re not reaping the rewards in your personal life? During busier times, at least make sure the bare minimum is taken care of–bill paying, dish cleaning, laundry doing–so your home doesn’t represent your stress level.

14. Over-committing.

Ambition or excitement can too easily get the best of you, causing you to say, “Yes!” to every idea thrown at you. Instead, say “I’ll get back to you.” This will give you time to look over your obligations to see if you really do have the time.

15. Trying to be perfect.

Ah, the dreaded unicorn: perfection. We know it doesn’t exist, yet we still agonize over every little detail, wasting time that should be spent on more important tasks. We should really just stop it.

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16. Avoiding decisions.

Tough decisions are,you know, tough. But if you don’t make them, someone or something will make the decision for you.

17. Consuming unnecessary information.

I find mental clutter to be more overwhelming than physical clutter. Learn the power of one: one email address, one checking account, one savings account. Cut back on the mailing lists you subscribe to so you can focus on what’s really important.

18. Neglecting your health.

Your ambition’s useless when you’re exhausted. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and most importantly, do everything you can to create a consistent sleep pattern.

19. Starting something and not finishing it.

Break every project you’re working on into such small pieces you’re not intimidated by the process of finishing the task. The last 10 percent of the task will always take 90 percent of your energy, so make it count!

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20. Failing to admit your mistakes.

Denying your mistakes or blaming others for your problems will do nothing to improve your life or help you reach your goals. Acknowledge your mistakes so that you can learn from them and move on.

What’s your strategy for kicking unproductive habits to the curb?

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Krissy Brady

A women's health & wellness writer with a short-term goal to leave women feeling a little more empowered and a little less verklempt.

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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)
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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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