I’ve always believed that the secret of becoming a productive person doesn’t have anything to do with the techniques or the tools (apps, to-do lists…). Nevertheless, most people are focusing more on the techniques. They are obsessed with trying every new sophisticated technique that come to existence.
They buy the latest personal productivity books hoping that this new book will give them that magical technique that will ultimately boost their productivity. Unfortunately, this seemingly unending search for new methods results in wasting more time and increasing frustration levels. In other words, It does more harm than good.
keeping a high level of productivity is related more to mindset and tiny habits than tools and techniques. It doesn’t matter if you’re using to-do lists or detailed weekly schedules. Or whether you’re using the Pomodoro technique or any other technique. I know that some techniques may work for some people better than others. I’m not saying that the techniques or the tools aren’t important at all. However, there are more important things that you need to focus on and are mainly related to your daily habits.
In this post we will go through some of the tiny habits that I think cause more harm than good to your productivity. So, make getting rid of these habits a TOP priority. I promise you’ll start accomplishing more in your day if you succeeded to erase these harmful habits.
I know you’ve definitely heard this like thousand times before. And let me repeat that again: multitasking is hurting your productivity. It decreases your attention span which results in a low quality output.
Your brain isn’t very good at multitasking. So, stop trying to do something that your own body wasn’t built for it. Multitasking doesn’t save you time as you may think. It just makes you feel like you’re being productive while you’re far from being so.
2. Online Chat
I get it that you love texting with your friends and exchanging funny pics with them. It’s fun. However, chatting with friends all day long is a huge waste of time. Moreover, we’ve become, with smartphones, accessible all the time which is super distracting.
The right thing to do is to let your friends know that you’re only accessible past 8 pm for example. I know some of your friends will hate you for that, but true friends will surely understand. I guess losing some of your friends would be a lot better than losing your freedom to work on your goals.
3. Messy Work Space
Forget all that “messy work space inspire creativity” crap. Your brain struggles to focus when the environment around you isn’t clean and well-organized. It’s scientifically proven.
Having bunch of work papers and books around you can be a powerful distraction. The reason is that they remind you of the remaining tasks that you still have to do. A messy desk is disabling your most important asset which is “attention”. Clean your desk first, then start working.
4. Constant Email Checking
The odds are every time you check your email you’ll waste an average of 20 minutes in reading an replying to incoming messages. Every time you check your email, you waste another 20 minutes. That’s a huge mistake.
To avoid that, make email checking the last thing you do before going to sleep. Make it a habit. Also, keep in mind that if it’s really urgent you’ll probably get a phone call.
5. Going with the flow
I know you’ve seen thousands of quotes that are telling you to go with the flow of life and take the path of no resistance. Well, that’s another proof that you shouldn’t believe whatever you find on the internet.
Saying “yes” to everything that comes in your way is a foolish advice. Your time and energy are very limited and you should only spend them on the things that really matter to you. Unless, you’re some kind of a hipster.
6. Doing Things For Your Own Ego
Most of us do so many things just because we think they make us look smart, important or cool. We focus on the appearances instead of the added value. The reason why we do this kind of stuff is because they make us feel good. However, it’s a complete waste of time.
So, you’ll need to go through all the things that you do “just” for your own ego. Identify them and drop them as soon as possible. This will give you more time to focus on the things that really matter.
7. You Work More Than You Should
You should keep in mind that more hours spent on a task doesn’t necessarily mean better productivity. Productivity is more about ‘how’ you do your tasks then ‘how much’ you spend on them.
So, instead of spending more time on something, try changing the method you’re using. Trying new ways of getting things done will help you identify your mistakes and solve them. As a result, your productivity will increase.
8. Leaving Important Tasks Until Later In The Day
Our energy and focus are very limited and they surely decrease throughout the day. So, leaving complicated tasks to a later time in the evening is definitely a bad idea. It affects your work quality and you can even end up not doing that task at all.
Therefore, starting your day with your most important/difficult tasks is the way to go.
9. Trying To Please Everybody
It’s impossible to please everybody and get them to like you. Yet, most people are trying endlessly to do that. The way they do that is by saying “yes” to everyone’s demands. They think they’re just being “nice”.
It’s good that you’re a nice person who tries to help others whenever he could. However, being “overly nice” is really exhausting and time-consuming. We all have been there and we know that some people will try to exploit you if they find out that you’re an overly nice guy.
10. Staying Up Late
I get that some people are naturally night owls and prefer working on their projects late at night. It’s fine as long as you get enough sleep, because not having enough sleep kills your productivity.
Having a routine in which you stay up late everyday and you wake up at 6am is self-destructive in every way possible. It’s not making the most out of your day as some people say. You may get some good productivity results in the short-term. But, in the long run you’re killing yourself (literally speaking).
11. You Talk a Lot
I know that this isn’t the case with everyone. But, if you’re that kind of person who loves getting into long debates with others. I think it’s about time to drop that “unpleasant” habit. Keep in mind that your arguments won’t, most of the time, change anything. The world will still be the same and the person who you’re talking to won’t change his mind either. So what’s the point ?
The bottom line, keep your conversations short. Avoid getting into meaningless debates that will just waste your time and energy. Save your time and energy for something with bigger impact on your life.
12. Following The News
I know this sounds a little bit crazy because media has worked so hard in the latest few decades to delude us that following the news is indispensable. Actually, you don’t have to follow the news. You won’t even notice any difference if you stopped following them. Moreover, you’ll feel a lot better about the world and yourself. All media is doing these days is publishing negative news because, surprisingly, people tend to be more interactive with bad news.
However, some news can be important to follow because they’re relevant and can actually affect us. Yet, 95 % of the news that go viral on social media are 100% complete nonsense. This latter kind is what I’m inviting you to stop following.
13. Doing Things Because You’ve Always Done Them
If you start analyzing your habits and rituals, you’ll notice that some of them don’t actually make any sense. You just do them because you’re used to. Probably, you don’t even know why you’re doing them. For example, I used to play video games every day thinking that they helped me eliminate stress. Obviously, I was lying to myself. I used to do that (video games) because I had always done it.
Video games was part of my life since I was a kid and while growing up I’ve kept considering them as an everyday activity. It was a mistake that costed me so much time. That’s why you should reconsider your habits and see if they’re really necessary or just something you do.
This is one of the killer mistakes a person can make when it comes to being productive. Some People schedule every hour of the day. So, when things don’t go as they planned they get angry blaming everything. Consequently, they quit planning for upcoming tasks which results in unorganized life with more time and energy wasted in vain.
The right thing to do is to schedule only the important tasks. For example, you can use a to-do list that contains no more than 5 items per day.
15. Working On So Many Goals at The Same Time
Ambitious people tend to take too much than they can handle. More experienced people can be capable of handling all that. However, it’s a real challenge to stay focused and work constantly on many goals at the same time. It takes so much self-discipline to be able to do such a thing.
In general, setting multiple goals (learning coding and animated design at the same time for example) will do more harm than good. Your focus span is going to be divided between your goals which will result in slow progressing in each of your goals. The slow progress can demotivate you from continuing your work. Ultimately, you won’t achieve any of your goals. So, stick to one goal at the time to raise your chances of accomplishing it.
16. Following Too Many TV shows
There was a huge development in the quality of TV Shows in the last 10 years. Suddenly, everybody is now following at least 5 TV Shows. It’s insane.
However, following every new TV show is an absolute waste of time. The problem with TV series is once you start one, it will become hard to quit it. So, you need to be vigilant when deciding to start watching a certain TV show. Stick with the best of the best and don’t compromise for average quality shows that will just waste your time.
17. You Do All The Work
One of the great things I like about internet is that it made outsourcing super easy. Nowadays, you don’t have to do all the work. Actually, you shouldn’t. You can, with a matter of a few clicks, hire other people to do the unimportant and time-consuming tasks for you. For instance, you can outsource research, Power Point presentations, customer support…
Reserve your time and energy to the tasks that you’re really good at. The tasks with high value added that represent the core of your business or profession. This way you’ll be able to focus on the things that have a big impact on your work. And not on that paper work that anyone can do.
Before You Go
Don’t hesitate sharing your thoughts and insights regarding the content of this post. I’d be happy to hear from you. Also, if you find this post helpful, please share it with your friends and people who you think would benefit from it.