When I came across this article, I was drawn to it because seven (7) sounded doable. You may be laughing, but I’m so serious! As we get older and continuously moving towards being established our time has to make sense. Hopefully, you will find the core value of different ways “we” hold ourselves back.
For many of us, productivity is the most important working quality we can actively improve. Being more productive means you’ll get more work done. For the young professional, that means being more likely to get a raise and earn a promotion. For the emerging entrepreneur, that means driving more growth for the business. For the busy salesperson, that means hitting goals early and having more time to spend with family.
There’s a misconception that in order to be more productive, you just have to work harder. You have to bury yourself in your work, work longer hours, and take fewer breaks–but this can actually be counterproductive. The truth is, most of us have long-term habits that are ruining our chances at improving our productivity, and these are some of the most common:
1. Making the Internet Available. It’s a sad fact that yes, there are some tasks that will require you to use the Internet. However, making the Internet openly available for your perusal is a productivity death trap we’ve all fallen into more than once. You open a tab to access your online accounting software, but decide to open another tab and check on Facebook. You do some research on your next proposal and end up doing a bit of research on what to eat for dinner tonight. These little wanderings don’t take much time in the moment, but added up throughout the day, they can accumulate to rob you of an hour or more. Your best bet is to disconnect the Internet entirely, but a safe alternative is restricting your own access either by avoiding certain sites or only allowing access during specific periods of the day.
2. Opening the Communication Floodgates. If you’re like most workers, you have at least three or four communication channels to pay attention to, including your phone, your email, and an instant messenger program. Leaving all these on, or checking them near-constantly, is ruining your productivity. It might seem like checking your email every 15 minutes helps you “stay on top of things,” but in reality, it breaks your focus and occupies time that could be better spent actively working on something. To remedy this, designate specific “communication periods” throughout the day where you catch up on emails and messages, and turn off notifications during all other times.
3. Attending Too Many Meetings. Meetings are team-based productivity killers. They bring too many people in for a conversation that takes too long, ends up getting nowhere, and probably wasn’t even necessary in the first place. If you’re the one calling the meetings, just stop. Carefully evaluate whether or not the meeting is absolutely necessary, and try to keep their lengths to a minimum. If you’re being invited to too many meetings, have honest conversations about the appropriateness of your inclusion. Ask critical questions about the nature of each meeting, and request an agenda if they really are necessary for you to attend so they can stay on track.
4. Working Through Breaks. Working through your breaks is a short-term and frankly, short-sighted solution to improve productivity. Spending an extra half-hour working through your lunch instead of taking a walk away from your computer does get you an extra half-hour of work done, but it also robs you of the opportunity to decompress and reevaluate your to-do list. Spending that half-hour relaxing can actually make the second half of your day far more productive, more than making up for the paltry amount of time you spent away from your desk.
5. Forgetting to Set Priorities. It’s easy to get swept up in a whirlwind of tasks and responsibilities. You respond to an email, jump to a co-worker’s desk, take a phone call, and then jump into a task you just thought of. Before you know it, the day is over and you still haven’t touched your “important” work. Setting and organizing priorities properly, far in advance, can help you resolve this problem. With a clear priority system, you can successfully determine which tasks truly demand your attention–and which ones can be ignored for now.
6. Refusing to Try a New System. Many of us sabotage our own productivity potential simply because we’re so deeply ingrained in a system we’ve relied on for years. You have a set routine, a set system, and you’re afraid to change it because it’s worked alright up until now. If you want to truly maximize your productivity, you’ll have to experiment with new processes, new routines, and small tweaks that may or may not work out for the better. Eventually, you will find better systems that allow you to be more productive.
7. Failing to Learn From Your Mistakes. If you try a certain approach for a certain task and it results in you spending three hours accomplishing a relatively simple goal, it makes sense that you should try a different approach the next time the task arises. All too often, we fail to learn from mistakes that cost us precious time, and we become doomed to repeat those mistakes ad infinitum.
If you find yourself committing one or more of these acts of sabotage, take comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone. These seven productivity plagues are all too common in modern work culture, and they can manifest without you ever noticing. However, now that you know their effects, you can take proactive measures to eliminate their influence from your working life.
Credits: Business Insider Post: Mylan Roland