The Habits That Are Destroying Your Productivity + What To Do Instead

Written by Paula Rizzo

We are all creatures of habit. Once we get used to doing something a certain way or using a particular product, it can be very difficult to change. Routine is good for our productivity, but it can be burden if you’ve latched onto some bad habits. Here’s how to get out of them quickly.

1. Don’t multitask.

Instead, try focusing on one thing at a time.

Multitasking can often make us feel as though we’re getting more done, which is what makes it so difficult to stop. In reality, though, when your focus is spread over so many activities, it's a lot harder to concentrate. You probably won’t save any time, and the quality of your work will be greatly diminished. I do recommend grouping like tasks together, such as paying bills, but try to focus on the individual task at hand until it's complete.

2. Don't procrastinate.

Instead, try creating fake deadlines and rewarding yourself for meeting them.

I’m a master procrastinator. It’s probably my worst habit. In fact, as I was writing this paragraph, I checked my email two times and took a few swipes through Facebook. To counteract my natural inclination to put things off, I give everything a deadline.

For bigger projects that already have a deadline. I break those down into smaller chunks, each with their own mini-deadline. I also like to give myself little rewards, like a snack or a call with a friend, to stay motivated.

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3. Don't obsess over email.

Instead, try checking your email only once an hour.

Emails are a huge source of distraction in the workplace. Especially as we’ve created an almost compulsive need to check our inboxes every five minutes. (I just did it a few seconds ago!) Remember almost every email can wait — nothing is that urgent!

Set a timer to help you space out the time between emails and close out the window until it’s time to check. For more ways to get your inbox under control, check out my course Take Back Your Inbox: Stop Drowning in Unread Messages, Respond Quicker and Finally Achieve Inbox Zero.

4. Don’t stress yourself out.

Instead, try to give yourself time to work it out.

When the pressure is on, the obvious first move is to dive right in. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to take a moment and come up with a plan first. Rushing can lead to missing vital information and overlooking simpler methods or opportunities to outsource.

5. Don’t say yes automatically.

Instead, try to consider your options.

Saying yes is probably the easiest part of any task, but when you actually have to carry it out you might regret your eagerness to agree. Before you say yes to something, think about what the task entails. If you feel like you’re saying yes because you have to, you'll end up feeling overbooked and underappreciated.

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6. Don't overdo it.

Instead, try being kind to yourself.

We all know someone who boasts about all the projects they currently have or how they only slept for three hours because they’re “so busy.” They may seem like they’re on their way to big things, but they’re going to burn out pretty quickly.

Don’t feel guilty for taking the occasional break, or sleeping your seven to eight hours. The way you treat yourself can have a huge impact on your work. I decided to take the entire month of December off from networking events because I couldn’t bear to introduce myself one more time! Try taking something off your plate — it feels so good to be nice to yourself.

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