Between my full-time job and my side hustle, I’ve been crazy busy lately, meaning I really can’t afford to not be as productive as possible. But just like everyone else, I’ve definitely got some bad habits that kill my productivity pretty quickly. If you’re struggling to stay focused, here are a few bad habits that just might be killing your productivity!
Letting Technology Distract You
In so many ways, technology is awesome and can totally help with productivity. But let’s be honest, it can also be a massive distraction. It pretty much constantly demands our attention. Maybe you’re like me and you check your email too often, jumping to tackle emails as they come in. Or maybe you find yourself hopping onto social media just for a minute, and one minute becomes 30. Or maybe you stream a TV show in the background while you’re working, but really just end up watching the show the whole time.
What To Do Instead: Set some technology boundaries for yourself. One that I have found super useful is turning off all notifications on my phone except for phone calls and texts. The social media notifications were easy and made a huge difference. The email notifications were a bit harder for me to commit to, but it’s quite a relief to not have my phone constantly going off to alert me of new emails, and now I just check them when I actually have time to deal with them.
Trying to Do Too Much
I have a strange love for to-do lists, and I’ve always been a bit overambitious when writing mine. In theory, it always seems manageable, but then I find myself with way more tasks on my list than there are hours in a day.
I think a lot of us try to motivate ourselves by setting the bar really high. But when you plan for more than you can actually get done, not only are you having tasks fall through the cracks because you haven’t planned enough time to get them done, but you’re also stressing yourself out totally unnecessarily.
What To Do Instead: These days, I would rather underestimate than overestimate how much I can get done in one day. Try to limit your to-do list to just a few tasks. If you’ve got 8 hours in your workday, don’t plan to tackle 8 hours worth of work. Plan for some transition time and a break here and there.
I do a lot of my blog and business work in the evenings after working at my full-time job. Rather than write myself a super ambitious to-do list, I’ll just plan to tackle one main task in an evening. Then, if I finish up early, I can start tackling a few smaller tasks.
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Letting Clutter Take Over
It might not seem like clutter would be that much of a productivity killer, but it definitely is! First of all, clutter totally kills your focus. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time concentrating when I’m surrounded by clutter. I also tend to get stressed by clutter and start to feel a little claustrophobic as I try to maneuver around it.
What To Do Instead: First of all, take a glance around your workspace and figure out what actually has to be there. If it’s taking up space and isn’t used daily, it probably doesn’t need to live on your desk. Make sure to also build in time to declutter moving forward. I like to use Friday afternoons before I leave work for the weekend to declutter my desk. That way I’m starting fresh Monday morning with a clear desk. And by making sure everything has a home somewhere, decluttering regularly will just go that much faster!
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Not Planning Ahead
This is one that became abundantly clear to me when I started blogging seriously. I work full-time and spend a lot of time with friends and family, so my blogging time is fairly limited. For the longest time, I wouldn’t plan ahead. I would just sit down at my computer when I had some time to work on my blog, and then I’d spend way too much time trying to figure out what the heck I actually needed to get done! Because of that, I wasn’t using that time nearly as productively as I could have been.
What To Do Instead: When you’re working with small pockets of time to get stuff done, plan ahead what it is you’re going to be working on. If I know I have two hours one evening to work on business tasks, I have a pretty good idea of what exactly I can fit into those two hours, so I’ll write a really specific to-do list for myself. The more you plan ahead, the more productive you’re going to be while you’re actually working.
Putting Off Big Tasks
When you’re working off a to-do list (especially when it’s a long one), it can be super tempting to go for the quick, easy tasks and be able to get some things crossed off right away. As great as it feels to cross tasks off your list, you’re not really making much headway if you’re ignoring the big tasks every time.
What To Do Instead: Rather than tackling your to-do list in order of how easy a task is, tackle it in order of importance. Put the top priority tasks at the top of the list, regardless of whether they’re big or small. That way, regardless of how many items you’re checking off, you know you’re getting your most important tasks done.
I also like to alternate between big and small tasks. I might do a big project first, and then give myself a break by getting a few small, simple tasks crossed off.
If you’ve read any of the previous posts I’ve shared on productivity, you’ve probably seen me talk about this one before. With a few exceptions, multitasking is simply not productive! You’re dividing your focus between multiple tasks, and nothing is getting your full attention or best work.
What To Do Instead: Focus on one task at a time. The fact that you’re giving your full attention to one project means you’ll get it done that much quicker, allowing you to move onto the next task more quickly.
If you must multitask, try pairing one task that requires focus with one that doesn’t. For example, I’ll often listen to podcasts while I’m cleaning or driving
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Not Taking Breaks
While it may seem like you can accomplish more if you power through and don’t take any breaks, this is totally not the case. When I’m working for way too long without a break, my brain just kind of turns to mush. I have a hard time focusing, and I notice that I’m working way more slowly than I should be.
Breaks actually are productive! It gives your brain a chance to power down for a bit so you can jump back into work feeling totally refreshed and refocused.
What To Do Instead: Start scheduling break time into your day. Like I mentioned before, trying to fit too much into your schedule just isn’t productive. And if you aren’t scheduling time for some downtime, it’s probably not going to happen – that’s the case for me anyway!
Are you letting these bad habits kill your productivity? Try these tips to stop them once and for all!
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