15 Things We All Do That Kill Productivity
When you wake up each morning you likely have a strong intention to make the most of your day. Time is something we’re all short of and in order to maximize the time that we do have it’s important to have a plan about how to structure your day.
Even if you start this way, it can all quickly go sideways as you run out of hot water in the shower, your kid throws a temper tantrum right when you should be leaving, and your partner can’t find their keys.
Once we’re thrown off our game it’s easy to quickly fall into habits and behaviors that are absolute time sucks and completely kill our productivity.
It could also be that maybe you never were on your game and you’re wondering how to make a better use of your time. You want to get stuff done and moved off your to do list, but you just never seem to find your groove.
Before looking at systems and processes to be more productive, it’s really important to understand the types of activities that we all do at some point during the day that completely waste time. Once you understand where and when a problem starts, then you can do something to fix it.
1. Not Planning in Advance
When you don’t plan your days, weeks or even months in advance, you lose precious time each day figuring out what you’re going to do. You also don’t make any traction on big projects that require your time, energy and attention to complete.
2. Social Media Scrolling
This shouldn’t be a surprise, but Social Media is a productivity KILLER. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all the rest are intentionally designed to suck you in and keep you scrolling for hours. When you check your social media accounts throughout the day you’re opening yourself up to a world of pretty pictures and serious temptation to ditch your to do list.
3. Not Being Organized
We’ve all said it at one point or another - “I just need to get my shit together!”, while we madly look for our keys at the bottom of an overflowing bag. The degree to which you organize is going to be a personal decision, but you have to have something in place to keep your stuff together. Otherwise you’re playing an endless game of hide and seek.
This is one habit that I’m guilty of every day of the week, and often I find it’s a reaction to feeling overwhelmed. When you continually put off doing a task, big or small, it will sit there and wreak havoc. Get it done today and check it off your to do list.
5. Overloading Your Calendar and To Do List
When you put too much on your plate you’re setting yourself up for a productivity meltdown. There won’t be enough time in the day to do things properly and you’ll find yourself falling into some of the other behaviors on this list. Overloading is often a symptom of underestimating the actual amount of time a task or project will take.
6. Not Blocking Out Chunks of Time
Failing to block out dedicated chunks of time to focus on one specific task or project will lead to multi-tasking and overwhelm. Evaluating the time you need to find your flow to properly do an item on your to do list, scheduling it and then protecting that time will get you the results you’re after.
7. Being Tempted By Distractions
Now I know what you’re thinking - who isn’t tempted by distractions during the day? We’re all bombarded with other things that can steal our focus away from work, but the key here is how often you’re willingly looking for a distraction or taking the bait that’s been put in front of you.
8. Checking Email When You Can’t Action Anything
This is one of my big time wasters - checking my email multiple times a day for no good reason. It’s one of those tempting distractions that you just read about. When you have no purpose for going into your inbox and can’t take direct action on anything, it’s best to avoid the black hole that is email.
9. Too Much Multi-Tasking
There is ample research that shows that our brains are designed to only handle one specific task at a time. While we think we’re getting more done by doing a little bit of work on a laundry list of to dos, we’re actually wasting time while our brain refocuses. The more times you jump between activities, the more time you waste.
10. Not Being Intentional
Without understanding why you’re working on something or how it fits into the bigger picture, you’ll find yourself spinning your wheels and going nowhere fast. Ask yourself the intention behind your work or project and evaluate if it still serves you.
11. Not Batching Similar Work or To Dos
Batch working is a game changing concept that when implemented can completely change your workflow. Group similar tasks, like writing pitches or creating blog content, together and work on a batch of these at a time.
12. Too Much Clutter
The space where you work is going to have an impact on your productivity. If your office, desk or workstation is cluttered and you can’t find your stapler when you need it or search frantically for a paper clip, you waste a lot of time that could be spent productively.
13. Prioritizing the Wrong Things
When deciding what to focus on each day, it’s crucial to evaluate how each task or project moves you closer to your larger goals and project deliverables. While a passion project may be more enticing, if it’s not a priority for your life and business you should put it to the side.
14. Not Following Your Energy
Each of us has times during the day when we’re typically more energetic and focused, and others where all we want to do is curl up and nap. Failing to account for these natural ebbs and flows might mean that you’re trying to focus on a big project right after lunch, instead of first thing in the morning when you’re more perky.
15. Not Taking a Break
Despite what you might be thinking, failing to take a break (or two or three) throughout the day will slow you down. You need to eat, go for a walk, take deep breaths and focus on something other than your work. Your brain and body will thank you and your productivity will soar.
By evaluating your own habits and behaviors you can start to identify areas where you can quickly make changes that will increase your productivity. While getting more done and checked off your to do list is great, it’s also important to remember that there is no one ‘perfect’ way to master productivity. Develop systems and processes that work for you and your lifestyle, not someone else’s.
You’ve got this!