Feeling Unproductive? Here Are Some Habits That Kill Productivity!
We’ve all got bad habits that we would love to shake. But when those bad habits slow you down when completing your work – that can get ugly, fast! Often times, it can be hard to identify what the issue is so as to begin to fix it. Sometimes it’s staring us right in the face but it takes self-reflection – or a frankly written post – to help bring these habits to light for you!
It’s a known fact that being distracted can have detrimental effects on your productivity. There is an interplay between stimuli and focus levels that are still being studied. Generally speaking, however, your productivity is often being killed by more than just checking your tech too often. This problem goes deeper. So, here are some productivity-killing bad habits – and how you can attempt to tackle them!
Checking Your Phone
We know from experience that checking our phone too often throughout the day can be a huge productivity killer. That’s why we have decided to disable and/or mute all the notifications that are not actually necessary. We don’t want to be conditioned like Pavlov’s dog to check our phone every time it makes a sound.
Sure, it is important that people are able to contact you – especially nowadays when lots of people don’t have a landline anymore. But when nobody is calling you or sending you important messages, you should not be on your phone!
If you need to, put it somewhere out of reach so you can’t easily grab it without thinking about it. This is something that helps Lisa a lot – when her phone is not within reach of her workspace, she’s usually a lot more productive.
Every time we check our phone – even if it is only a few seconds – it takes our mind a few moments to get back into the task that we were working on originally. If you check your phone dozens of times a day, that can be a noticeable chunk of time that you could spend being productive instead!
Checking Social Media/Email Too Often
This bad habit is somewhat related to the point above since in this day and age, we often use our phone to check social media and email. However, and somewhat unfortunately, you can also do that on your computer. And while you can put away or turn off your phone, it’s often not possible to do that with your computer – because you probably need it to work.
We are frequently struggling with this bad habit as well. To be honest, checking emails too often is not a big problem since we do that at the beginning of our workday and then don’t need to check again until later in the afternoon.
If you get a lot of work emails from colleagues, you should try a productivity tool like Slack. It’s great to keep the number of emails in your inbox down and you’re less likely to be distracted by an email that is not related to your work.
The bad habit we struggle with more is checking social media too often – especially Facebook. The problem for us is that we sometimes have to use Facebook for work, so we can’t cut it out of our work time completely. However, we are trying very hard to only spend a limited time on Facebook and do work-related tasks in bulk. This way we don’t risk getting sucking into spending too much time on the platform and looking at dog videos.
If you don’t need to use social media to complete your work but you’re having trouble staying off of it, then we’d recommend logging out of your account for the time you’re working. Alternatively, you can also try installing one of these browser extensions that block access to certain websites for a specified amount of time.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep can play a huge role in our productivity. Have you noticed that when you didn’t get enough sleep during one night, it can be more difficult to stay focused on a task the next day? We have noticed that many times – that’s why we are now trying to always get sufficient sleep during the night.
Of course, it’s normal to have a night every once in a while when you can’t get to sleep at the right time because you have to finish something, you’re out with friends or whatnot. And that’s fine – it becomes a problem when you get too little sleep on a frequent basis. If that’s the case, look at how you are spending your day and try to make changes so you can get to bed at a decent hour (we usually aim for 10 pm).
Not Drinking Enough Water
Similarly to not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water can have a huge effect on our body. That’s no surprise since our body is largely made up of water.
When we don’t drink enough water during the day, staying focused on the task we are working on often becomes more difficult. In some cases, our lack of water consumption even results in headaches – and that’s certainly a big productivity killer.
So if you want to stay sharp and help your body feel well, drink your water throughout the day. If you’re not used to drinking a lot of water, then this might take some getting used to – but it’ll be worth it! We even wrote an article full of tips for drinking more water throughout the day. So have a look at that article if you want to get rid of this bad habit!
Comparing Yourself to Others
Are you frequently comparing yourself to others? This is actually something that could decrease your productivity. Yes, it’s true that for some people, comparing their performance to that of their colleagues can actually make them more productive.
However, that’s not really what we are talking about here. This one could also read “you’re always watching what others are doing” which can definitely be bad for your productivity.
By frequently focusing on others throughout the day – whether it be colleagues in the office or people online (as might be the case for bloggers) – it’ll be much harder for you to get into that “productivity zone”. By avoiding this possible distraction and focusing on your own work instead, you can really improve your productivity!
Not Being Able to Sat “No”
Imagine you’re working on a project and someone is asking you to do something. That might be a colleague asking for help or a friend/family member asking you to meet them in the middle of the day. The second scenario can happen a lot if you work from home – we’re speaking from experience here.
Of course, it’s completely fine to help a colleague out or meet someone for lunch, etc. However, if you’re never able to say “no”, then this might have a noticeable effect on your productivity over time!
The same is true for when you’re already juggling a lot of projects at the same time and someone asks you to take on yet another project. If you don’t know at what point it is necessary to say “no”, then you might risk being so overwhelmed by everything you have to do that your productivity suffers.
Not Moving Enough
Moving your body throughout the day is so important. You probably hear that all the time but actually doing something about it can be difficult for some reason. We’ve experienced this first-hand.
The problem with sitting in front of a desk all day is that our body is not made for that. And as a result, it can actually affect your productivity. Moving your body can help the blood flow and keep the mind alert. It can also help reduce body aches which can affect your focus because then you aren’t concerned with how much your wrist or back hurts!
You don’t have to do a full workout in your office – but taking a break to walk around every hour or so can actually make a difference. Doing a workout during lunch is also a popular trend – so maybe give that a try if you haven’t yet.
Something that has helped Lisa a lot is doing a 30-minute yoga workout at the beginning or end of the day. Not only does it help her clear her mind, but it also helps with tense muscles from sitting. There are even more benefits to doing yoga if you need some more convincing!
Not Having A Proper Work Routine Set Up
This bad habit is probably more of a problem if you’re working from home and not in a traditional office setting. Not having a proper work routine can be a huge productivity killer. If you don’t have at least a loose outline of how your workday should look like, it’s so easy to waste valuable time that you could spend being productive.
Still tired in the morning? Ah, I can sleep for another hour because I’m working from home. Not in the mood to do a task? I’ll just watch a quick video and do it later. Does that sound familiar?
We’ve been working from home for over two years now and have developed a simple routine that we follow pretty much daily. However, every once in a while even we are still struggling with this…. but most of the time we are not! So if you don’t have a routine set up, you should definitely work on it – it can make a huge difference!
Too Much Multi-Tasking
Are you often dealing with too many things at once? While some people swear by multi-tasking to be productive, some argue that true multitasking is not possible because the brain is always truly focused on a singular task at hand.
Judging lots of different tasks might actually make us get things done slower than if we had committed all our energy to focus on a specific task. You might not believe this – and that’s fine. That’s why we’d recommend that you give it a try. Take a day (or a week) when you only focus on one specific task at the time. No “I’ll just quickly reply to this email” when you’re working on something else.
It might be difficult but try to actually stick to it. And at the end of the experiment, evaluate your productivity! If you’ve only done it for a day the results might not be super clear since it takes some time to get used to working in a different way. But after a while, you should be able to assess whether you’re more productive or not when cutting out multi-tasking.
Not Eating Properly
Are you often so busy that you forget to eat properly? This habit could also affect your productivity negatively. You’ve probably heard that eating breakfast is immensely important. And while there’s a lot of debate about this claim, you can’t deny that it is important to fuel your body (at some point) throughout the day. And we don’t just mean a granola bar or fast food.
If you take care of your body well, your body will most likely allow you to be more focused throughout the day. And to be honest, it’s really difficult to be productive and get work done when you’re hungry – at least it is for us.
That’s why we always make it a point to have breakfast before we start working, break for lunch to refuel our body and then have dinner – preferably before 8 pm. In addition to giving our body the nutrients it needs, this also makes it easier for us to stick to a routine.
Not Asking for Help
Do you have to do a task but have no idea how to even go about it? Sometimes it’s okay – and even beneficial – to ask for help! If it would take you hours to figure out a way to complete a task, when someone could explain it to you in five minutes, then ask! This could save you a lot of time which you can then use to be productive working on something else.
In our work life, Lisa is great at Photoshop while Bruce is better at video editing. If we have a photo that needs tweaking we get the other person to help rather than struggle through doing it ourselves.
Of course, the person should only do it when they have a moment to spare because asking them to do something all the time is pretty detrimental to their workflow (noted above).
Furthermore, if you are constantly asking for someone else to do a task – there might be an argument for you learning how to do it yourself! But if you find yourself in a situation every once in a while where asking for help would be the better scenario, then do so.
Using Outdated/Wrong For The Task Tools
This point is related to not having a good workflow system in place – and the tools you use can have a huge impact on that. We’re not saying that you should automate everything – but you should have the right tool for the job you’re doing.
Learning a new skill or software might shave you minutes in a day, these minutes turn into hours in a week and these hours during days in each month or year. It can be as simple as downloading a program to your computer as opposed to accessing it online… or using the updated version of a video editing software compared to an older one.
Perhaps your workflow can move quicker if you write notes in one application and they automatically move to your computer as opposed to manually moving them yourself? There are loads of different examples in different industries so don’t get complacent and stop asking “can this be done better?” if something feels arduous and slow.
Also, when you do get a new software, app, etc, stick to it and implement it fully. If you switch to another one after just a few days of trying it out, you will never get into the rhythm intended to use it properly and will just waste more time moving to another one. Give it a chance!
We used Trello (which was great) but we outgrew it and moved to Asana. While it took a while to get used to the new program, we LOVE it now that we know how everything works.
Always Aiming for 100%
Of course, you should try to complete the work you are doing with a high standard in mind – but you don’t have to be a complete perfectionist in everything that you do. It’s important to differentiate when 100% is necessary – and when it’s not. This will probably be different for everyone.
A general piece of advice that you often read about is about observing the 80/20. This basically means that with 20% of the activities, you’ll achieve 80% of the results. Then depending on the circumstance, you should decide whether this is good enough or if it actually needs to be a bit better.
The thing is, most outputs will never be perfect, and aiming to get everything perfect before moving on will mean that you will basically never move on from a task. So really think about which projects need to be perfect and which ones don’t.
Not Defining Work And Rest Time
There’s a time for home time an a time for work time – this differentiation can especially be hard if you work from home or are an entrepreneur. We definitely fight with this notion on a daily basis BUT we are getting better as we understand daily tasks, weekly goals, and what we can accomplish in a single day. Sometimes it’s as easy as turning off the computer. There – can’t work if the thing is off and closed!
Defining when to work and when to rest or do something else is super important because you need to give your mind a break every once in a while! We remember the beginning of our business journey where we tried to work every day for weeks without any clearly defined breaks. We thought we were productive that way – but now we know better.
Sure, we were sitting in front of our computers a lot – but we were not actually being productive. Tasks that could have taken an hour easily took us two or more hours to complete – mainly because our mind was slow and we had trouble focusing. So take breaks – and don’t think about work during these times!
Making Mistakes Again and Again
It’s normal to make mistakes – and sometimes it even good because it can teach you valuable lessons. However, making the same mistakes, again and again, can be harmful to your productivity.
If you make mistakes because you didn’t remember something, then write it down! Creating “standards” for workflows can be a great way to make sure that you’re completing tasks in an efficient way – without forgetting an important step in between. This way you don’t have to spend even more of your valuable time to fix a mistake on a task that you didn’t notice earlier.
Having Too Much To Do
This point might sound a bit counter-intuitive, but having too much to do can actually affect your productivity negatively. You’d think that you’d work better and faster if a lot of deadlines and projects are hanging over your head – and in some cases, this can certainly be true.
However, there is also a more problematic side to this scenario – one that Lisa has struggled with firsthand. Sometimes when you have too much to do, it can actually result in you doing nothing at all. It kind of feels like you’re completely frozen.
It’s not necessarily that you don’t want to do a task, you might just feel so overwhelmed that you can’t do anything. And this is certainly not a beneficial state of mind to be in. That’s why we try to carefully monitor the number of tasks that we agree to take on at one point in time.
Should I work on this project or start with the other one first? Should I use black and white photos or colored photos? Every day, we have to make so many decisions in our life – whether it be related to work, studying, or private life.
It’s completely normal – and important – to think about and evaluate different options. The problem arises when you can’t make a decision after hours, days, or weeks of thinking about it. The thing is, you probably won’t know for sure which is the better choice until you actually make a decision and move forward.
That’s why it is important to decide on a “cut-off” point for yourself when it comes to making decisions. Otherwise, your productivity might suffer for longer than necessary. We even wrote a whole guide with advice on how to stop overthinking if you’d like to read more about this topic!
And there you have it – some pretty bad habits that can kill your productivity. In the end, anything that is detrimental to you getting stuff done can be considered a bad habit if you keep doing it over and over. The key is to identify a bad habit and work to change it! It doesn’t usually happen over night – but you can definitely do it if you try!
As always, Stay Curious,
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