Productivity is all about getting as much done as possible in as little time as we can feasibly manage. Unfortunately, many of our habits and excuses that we believe are making us more productive are actually having the exact opposite effect.
Here are five things you need to stop doing as soon as possible in order to be more productive in both your work and personal life.
1. Staying logged in to social media
It has happened to all of us before. We get one new notification, and stop what we are doing to check to make sure it isn’t urgent (it very rarely is). Then, without even realizing it, we somehow end up on a completely different site, immersed in something that has nothing to do with work or what we originally stopped to check in the first place. Social media can be a good thing. Too much of a good thing, however, is never truly all that good.
Social media destroys any chances you might have at a consistently productive schedule, especially if you can’t go more than an hour or so without checking your notifications. Too much of anything is a productivity killer, when you look close enough. Social media helps us connect with others, it helps us stay informed, but in many cases, it mostly ends up distracting and delaying us.
Unless constant social media surfing is your job, stay off social networks, blogs and video streaming sites. Everyone knows ‘I’ll just watch one more video and then I’ll get back to work’ is never a promise likely fulfilled. They call it the web because it’s very easy, and tempting, to get lost in a constant sea of articles and comment sections.
We have all procrastinated on a major project or deadline at least once. That rushed, frantic feeling in the pit of your stomach just sits there agonizing you until you finally hit that submit button. We often procrastinate because we are avoiding something. Sometimes we even procrastinate on accident.
While it may help in some cases to kick yourself into gear, doing a lot of work in a short period of time consistently is going to send you straight into burnout mode. If you think your productivity levels are suffering now, just wait until you’re left feeling so overwhelmed and overworked that not even caffeine can wake you up.
If you can’t get your procrastination habit completely under control, at least learn to manage your to do list in a way that makes sure you are still getting the most important things done first. Figuring out how to manage a bad habit, and gradually replacing that bad habit with a better one, is much more effective than doing nothing at all.
3. Giving up sleep to do more work
It seems logical at first, thinking that by doing more work and cutting into your sleep time, you are quickly becoming a productivity mastermind. What’s a few more hours of work in the evening or getting up an hour earlier in the morning if it means you can have more waking hours to get things done? Sleep deprivation does more harm in the short and long term than you might think.
Sleep, adequate and consistent sleep, is a productivity and overall health essential. Better sleep leads to better productivity. Less sleep leads to lower levels of productivity. The more tired you are, the less energy you have to put toward getting your work done. Now that makes much more logical sense, doesn’t it?
Sleep. Even when you don’t feel tired; even when you don’t think you have enough time, or are somehow not going to be able to get as much done because of it. The best thing you can do for yourself is set a sleep and wake time and stick to that schedule, especially in the beginning. This is how you can make sure you are going to get enough sleep in order to be more productive throughout the day.
4. Skipping the gym
This is probably the habit most of us are guilty of out of all the items on this list. You don’t have time to work out, so you simply don’t. Why spend 30 minutes walking on a treadmill when you could spend that time answering emails or making phone calls? You’ll exercise tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next day.
Regular exercise – 150 minutes or more of moderate physical activity each week – has been shown to improve mental health, boost energy, make us more alert and help prevent physical illness. Even though you might think giving up exercise makes you more productive, you would probably have much more energy and motivation if you spent just a little time increasing your heart rate.
5. Doing less important tasks first
One reason many of us end up procrastinating and messing up our productivity is because there are things on our to do lists we are desperately trying to avoid. Even when we finally do sit down and start working, we often fall into the habit of picking out less important things to do first simply because they seem easier or less cringe worthy.
Find the task on your to do list you are dreading the most, likely the most important thing, and tackle that first. It will seem hard and unpleasant at first, but in reality, you are doing yourself a favor. If you get the most important task out of the way first, you will feel much less pressured and stressed to continue on and complete more tasks.
If you are a list maker or you use a to do list app, order or number your tasks so that you can clearly see which things you absolutely need to get done first. You will feel energized and relieved after finishing it, and will end up getting more done throughout the day because of it.
Kick those bad habits, replace them with better ones and watch your productivity levels skyrocket.
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