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9 Mistakes That Make You Unproductive

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!).

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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

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Maggie Heath

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

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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