Advertising
Advertising

9 Mistakes That Make You Unproductive

9 Mistakes That Make You Unproductive

Everyone has bad working days, but if you feel like you’ve gotten into the habit of being unproductive, it may be time to reevaluate your behavior. Here are 9 of the worst mistakes people make that lead to unproductive behavior.

1. Having a cluttered workspace.

Advertising

If your desk is overrun with knickknacks, various pieces of paper, stacks of books, or anything other than what is absolutely necessary, it can be really hard to get things done. Try filing things away in a cabinet or storage box, or even throwing some of those unnecessary items away. Keeping only what’s vital on your desk can really save you time and stress.

2. Social networking.

It can be tempting to leave Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network open in a tab on your computer. Unfortunately this can really cut down on how much work you’re really getting done. Checking these sites, even for only a couple of minutes at a time, can add up and cause seriously unproductive behavior. What’s more, it’s very hard to go to these sites and not get pulled in for more time than what you had originally planned on. Leave them be and wait until later to update your status.

Advertising

3. Not getting enough sleep.

People who sleep 7-9 hours a night wake up feeling more energetic and focused, which makes getting things done much easier. If you’re suffering from sleepiness during the day, your productivity can slow down and your work can become careless. If you’re not getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night, try getting to bed earlier. Productivity increases when you are well-rested.

4. Not napping.

If you do get enough sleep at night, but it still isn’t sufficient to get you through the day, taking a power nap could do you a world of good. Keep the nap under twenty minutes to ensure that you wake up refreshed, but don’t have trouble going to sleep when it’s time for bed later that night.

Advertising

5. Not eating healthy.

Food is what we use to fuel our bodies. Without proper nutrition, we can start to feel sluggish. Make sure to eat breakfast before going to work, as this is what will really get you going at the start of the day. Make sure to listen to your body and eat a snack if you need to. Packing your lunch is another great way to ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs.

6. Not prioritizing. 

Without priorities, it can be hard to decide what to work on at what time. By ranking your assignments in order of most to least important, you can save time on mulling over what to work on next. Take some time at the start of each work day and determine what is the most important task of that day. Sorting out your priorities before you start working can make the day go a lot smoother.

Advertising

7. Not making a “to do” list.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but lists can really help you stay on track. By making a list of things that need to be done, you’re ensuring that those things get done on time. Writing tasks down can also help hold you accountable, thus making it more likely that you will complete them.

8. Procrastinating.

Once you put something off, you’re more likely to continue putting it off. Break the habit now and get things done when they need to get done, not when you feel like doing them (which, when you procrastinate, is never!).

9. Not asking for help.

There is no shame in needing help with something. Sometimes we put off getting a task done because there is some confusion, or something we aren’t sure how to do. If you’re not sure how to do something, or need clarification, you can save yourself a lot of wasted time and effort by simply asking someone for help.

Featured photo credit: Lars Plougmann via photopin.com

More by this author

Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

Why Do We Procrastinate? 9 Psychological Reasons Behind 9 Ways To Be Less Clingy In Your Relationship Useful Chart: Fruits That You Can and Cannot Let Your Dog Eat Nomnomnom! 4 Flavourful Cake Frosting Recipes That You Cannot Miss! 10 Blow Your Mind Surprises You Can Hide In A Cake!

Trending in Productivity

1 How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity 2 How Do You Measure Success? Here’re 10 Better Ways 3 9 Best Productivity Planners and Journal To Get More Done 4 How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively 5 How Long Does It Take to Break a Habit? Science Will Tell You

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

Advertising

You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

Advertising

Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

Advertising

When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

Advertising

If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

More Resources About Boosting Focus and Productivity

Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

Read Next