7 Habits That Are Killing Your Productivity
Being productive is a skill. And much like other skills, the longer you practice it, the better you become at it.
Unfortunately, being productive is a skill that takes more than just a little finesse to master. To be productive and stay productive, you must also be aware of the common pitfalls where most people falter.
Here are 7 of the most common productivity killers.
Is it really possible to do two things at the same time? Science says no.
Multiple studies done on the subject in recent years have come to the conclusion that multitasking is but a myth. What the human brain does it switch its attention from one task to another at lightning speed. But even that is a no-no for productivity. Here’s why.
- It’s a waste of time. It takes you longer to finish two projects if you’re constantly jumping back and forth between them.
- It makes you prone to mistakes. When you’re task-switching, you’re never fully focused on one task. Instead, your concentration is divided which makes it easier to overlook important details that matter.
- Your memory suffers. Constant interruptions can harm your short-term memory, making you easily forgetful.
2. Reactive Doing
Imagine this. You had your day all planned out. You woke up on a bright mood. You start your day enthusiastically answering your emails while sipping your morning coffee. And that’s when… you remember your best friend Alfie from high school. You haven’t seen Alfie in years! You wonder how Alfie is doing, whether he’s married or not or if he’s gotten his dream job.
Thinking it wouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes, you decide to set aside the emails to check if Alfie is on Facebook — which he is! Of course, you send him a friend request. You close the app and get back to your emails. But then…you get the notification — you and Alfie are now friends!
You set aside that email again just to check his profile (which was private, by the way) and to finally satisfy your curiosity about your long-lost buddy. You’re in for a surprise because not only did Alfie get his dream job at NASA, but he also married your high school sweetheart!
You get sucked into the drama until 5 minutes turns into hours and the whole day is out the window.
Reactive doing is all too common. We suddenly remember a birthday we failed to call for, that passion project we started but didn’t finish, that cute girl in the bar whose number was (alas!) in last night’s pants pocket.
Then we make some lame self-excuse like “just 5 minutes” and the day’s order is thrown to chaos.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to your productivity — and often the easiest to give in to — are distractions. There’s a handful of things that can detract you from your focus:
- Social media
- Phone notifications
- “got-a-minute” meetings
What makes distractions such sweet temptations is the fact that they make us think we have time for them when we really don’t. Nobody thinks of intentionally scrolling Instagram for an hour yet for many, that ends up being the case.
We pay a high price for our little diversions. The moment you’re interrupted, it takes an average of 25 minutes to regain your focus back to the original task. Yet that’s the not the worst of it. Every time you give in to an unplanned interruption, you’re training your brain to be reactive, making you even more susceptible to repeat the pattern over and over again.
In short, you’re building the habit of being distracted.
4. Zero planning
Few people ever really realize the extent of the fact that every human on earth has 24 hours in a day and that what we do with our time is ultimately what differentiates us, regardless of whether we were born poor or with a silver spoon in our mouth.
Looked at in this context, planning becomes a powerful tool for self-development. Your calendar becomes a snippet of your life years ahead.
So, take it a little seriously. Build the life you want to live, one day at a time.
5. Zero learning
If you’re in the business of being productive, your biggest investment should be in learning — always. Why? Because the world is constantly changing and if you don’t want to be left behind, then you better keep up. Learning is a skill from which competence is built.
Here’s why should you never stop learning.
- You learn new things to remain valuable
- You’re prepared for the unexpected
- You become confident
- Your new ideas help you innovate
- You are able to see a situation from multiple angles and assess the best way forward
The most successful people on the planet from Bill Gates and Elon Musk to Jeff Bezos attest to the importance of continuous learning in leadership, resilience, and personal success.
6. Not getting enough sleep
The science of sleep is deep. For decades, scientists have been warning us against the dangers of chronic sleep deprivation. We see it so often that it seems like it’s lost its meaning.
Yet, it still bears repeating: you need to sleep better.
Sleep is the body’s primary repair mechanism. Sleep helps you recall things better. It improves your attention. It boosts your immune system, and it looks after your mental well-being. Take it for granted at your own risk.
7. Not finishing anything
If you repeat something enough times, it becomes a habit. That includes chronic self-sabotage. You abandon a task at your own peril. Every time you quit at something; you’re essentially telling yourself that it’s okay to not get things done.
Life is not just about completing things but it is often about completing things.
One key skill in being productive is self-discipline and it goes hand in hand with nailing your goals down. It appears that sometimes the people we need to impress the most are ourselves.
So, start, complete, repeat. If you repeat something enough times, it becomes a habit.