If you’re like most people, you want to be productive. You have the best intentions to get all the important things done and more only to ask yourself at the end of each and every day where all the time went. “What did I even get done all day?” Sound familiar?
You are not alone. So many people feel exactly the same way. Wanting to be productive, full of good intentions, but something always gets in the way of getting things done. The main reason for this is unproductive work habits. Productive work habits is not something we learn in school, we’re meant to pick them up on the way. But unless our parents can teach us these things, we’re a bit stuck.
Some people are naturally super organised and productive. But that’s a tiny minority. For the rest of us, we have to figure things out along the way with lots of trial and error; and error often means we do things in a non-productive way and one or more of these following things may apply.
You are unfocused.
You are trying to do too many things at once. Multitasking is one of the worst things you can do if you want to get more done. Instead of making you more productive it can zap your productivity by up to 70 percent as your brain tries to rapidly switch between all the things you want to accomplish at the same time. Our brains aren’t made to focus on more than one thing at a time.
If it needs concentration, and most work-related tasks do, do them one at a time with full focus on each. Give yourself the best chance by eliminating as many distractions as possible.
You don’t have goals.
How do you know if you’re going in the right direction and how far you’ve come if you don’t where you’re going? Setting yourself timed goals will make sure you stay on track and you can course correct if you veer off. You can then also decide which tasks will get you towards your goal. Breaking down larger goals into short term-sprints can improve your sense of accomplishment even further.
You give in to distractions
Distractions are all around us. You can eliminate some of them, but it’s how you deal with them overall is what will determine your productivity.
My tip is to eliminate as many distractions as possible such as
Turning off all notifications
Switching your phone on silent or putting it in flight mode
Creating rules for people who you share your workspace with
For distractions you can’t eliminate, learn to either ignore them (acknowledge and move on) or postpone your reaction to after you’re done with your task.
You let procrastination run your day.
Nobody feels like doing productive work every hour of the workday and some tasks are more difficult to start than others. If you find yourself procrastination figure out the reason for it. Why are you putting that particular task off? Then go and find the solution to your particular problem in this blog post about overcoming procrastination.
You need to be perfect.
Perfectionism can be a huge hurdle to productivity. You might not start the task because you feel you can’t do in perfectly in the time available. Another scenario could be that you can’t finish because it’s just not perfect yet. The blog post needs another edit, and another; the web copy you’re writing is not quite right; the spreadsheet could be much better formatted; etc.
Realise that perfection is a myth. Nothing will ever be perfect. There is always room for improvement. But what does good enough look like? If you change that one phrase in your mind you will find that you’re getting a lot more done.