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Six Habits That Sabotage Your Productivity February 19, 2015 (1 comment)


Toronto, ON, Canada—You make to-do lists. You answer emails promptly. You have frequent staff meetings to make sure everybody communicates. You even sleep with your mobile phone in arm’s reach. So why don’t you feel more productive?

Some of these habits—in fact, most of them—can actually be counterproductive, according to an article in The Globe And Mail.

To-do lists are good. In fact, to-do lists are even healthy, according to Consumer Reports. By writing down everything you need to do as soon as you think of it, you reduce stress and increase brain efficiency. Once something is written down, you don’t stress about forgetting it, while you free up your mind to focus on more important things. Think of brain space like deleting files from your computer: it performs much better without the clutter.

Here are some counterproductive habits you might want to skip, though:

1. Touching emails more than once. You can scan the subject line and decide you don’t need to open it now, or don’t need it at all. But if you do open it and it is something you need to deal with, do it right away so you don’t lose time by having to go back and reread it later.

2. Meeting out of habit or without an agenda. Meetings need a goal—to solve a problem, practice a sales technique, learn a product, whatever. If you are having a Monday morning meeting because that’s how you always start the week—but there’s no real goal for it—that time could be spent more productively elsewhere. The same goes for informal meetings when you’re busy: if a colleague wants to chitchat and you’re swamped, politely decline until you have time.

3. Repeating the same mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake—it’s part of growth—but once you do, learn from the experience and don’t make it again.

4. Using your cell phone as an alarm clock. While convenient for travel when every luggage ounce counts, it invites insomnia. When you set the alarm you’ll probably check email, Twitter, Facebook, etc., and then do it all again when you wake up. Multiple studies have shown that the light emitted by electronic screens interferes with sleep, and checking email the minute your eyes are open doesn’t allow you time to fully wake up healthily, either. If you must use the phone as an alarm, set it and forget it—or get an old-fashioned alarm clock separate from the phone.

5. Allowing app notifications. The default setting for most phones is to allow apps to send you notifications; your best productivity option is to turn them off altogether or at the very least, switch to silent (not vibrate) mode. Imagine what you could accomplish in 60 minutes of time totally uninterrupted by pinging, buzzing, vibrating, etc. 

6. Being a chameleon. You want to please people, but sometimes a kind but firm “no” is better than a well intentioned but misguided “yes.” If an employee approaches you for feedback on an idea or project and you aren’t thrilled with it, be kind but honest. (Ditto when you’re asked to bake cupcakes for the PTO the night before a big presentation.) It’s the journey, not the destination—and it’s ok for both them and you to go back and improve.

Read The Globe And Mail article here.

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By Steve Belleville on Feb 20th, 2015 at 5:50pm

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