There isn’t one single person on the planet who is perfectly productive. It’s an impossible dream that simply can’t be achieved.
There’s a good reason for this: we’re all human. That means we make mistakes, overlook our inefficiencies and, sometimes fail to learn from our missteps.
Everyone reading this blog (and the person writing it) suffers from bad productivity habits that hold them back from doing the best possible job at work and completing that ever-growing list of to-dos around the house.
Today, we’re going to expose the most common bad productivity habits. You may have one, two or all of them, but don’t fear, because we’ll provide a simple, no-nonsense fix for each one!
Bad habit 1: you don’t punish yourself for having bad habits
Over the next few hundred words, you’re probably going to discover one or several bad productivity habits you never knew you had.
It won’t be easy to learn that you’re deficient in one way or another, but when you do, punishing yourself is just as important as positive reinforcement. Not violently, obviously, but a little reminder that what you’re doing is bad will go a long way.
How to fix it: Find yourself checking email again within the last five minutes? Get down and give yourself ten pushups!
Bad habit 2: your calendar is too busy
Let’s not beat about the bush – it can be strangely satisfying to add stuff to your calendar. Being busy is fun, addictive and makes us feel valued.
However, if the satisfaction of adding stuff to your calendar turns into an addiction, you’ll forget that, at some point, you actually need to get onto the stuff you’re promising yourself and others.
How to fix it: before you add anything to your calendar, ask yourself honestly if it’s achievable that day. And, at the end of each day, scan tomorrow’s list to see if it needs to be trimmed.
Bad habit 3: you’re too indecisive
Indecision will bring your working day to a grinding halt. Worse, it might even drive you to the point of distraction, leaving the entire day’s productivity in tatters.
If you regularly find yourself struggling to make a decision, your ability to get stuff done will be severely hampered. It’s time to get tough with yourself.
How to fix it: work by the 2-minute rule for decisions; if something can’t be decided in that time, you need to reflect on how important or unachievable the end goal is.
Bad habit 4: you’re not making use of automation
We live in a world now where so many mundane, boring, repetitive tasks can be automated by software. And this is brilliant, because it gives you far more time to concentrate on the more exciting stuff.
For instance, if you’re a solo entrepreneur, why do you spend an hour every week creating invoices that recur every single week?
How to fix it: find affordable software that will automate the most repetitive tasks you undertake. Add up the hours it’ll save you and bask in the glory of retrieving them for better use!
Bad habit 5: you say “yes” to everything
You’re a nice person and you want to make a positive difference in your company and industry. But that doesn’t mean you need to agree to everything that is thrown your way.
Saying “no” to work is a very hard thing to do – particularly if you run your own business or if you’re a freelancer. The thought of turning down potential income and disappointing people often results in us agreeing to more than we can physically do.
How to fix it: only say “yes” to the things you know you can do within an acceptable timeframe. If you can’t, be honest about the fact – most decent people will completely understand. We wrote a whole post on how to say “no”.
Bad habit 6: your to-do list is massive
Take a look at your to-do list. How big is it?
If it runs onto several pages or scrolls forever on your smartphone, it’s too big. To-do lists are, usually, daily affairs and if you continually fill yours with tasks you know, deep down, you can’t complete, you’ll let not just yourself down, but those to whom you’ve promised you’ll get stuff done.
How to fix it: re-read the ‘how to fix it’ section for bad habit 2 (your calendar and to-do list share many qualities).
Bad habit 7: you’re a perfectionist
Asking yourself “how can I make this better” isn’t a bad thing at all. Striving to be the absolute best in your industry is a brilliant way to develop fantastic products, services and a long, successful career.
But you can go too far.
Sometimes, ‘good’ is good enough. And you’ll know when that’s the case, because you’ll know that if you try and better the existing creation, you’ll spend endless long nights doing so for little reward.
In that instance, what’s more important – perfection or your health?
How to fix it: focus on finishing stuff rather than perfecting it, and only aim for the stars when your time (and the budget) allows it. Remember, done is better than perfect.
Bad habit 8: you have a poor daily work routine
We’re living in the age of the flexible working day, and it has become a brilliant way to be ultra-productive, no matter which industry you work within.
However, you can take the flexible working day too far. If there’s no structure to what you do each day and you don’t conform to some rules about when you start and finish, your mind will quickly fall into unproductive mode.
How to fix it: Try and remain in a dedicated working space and promise yourself you’ll work relatively consistent hours each day – even if they’re before or after the old-fashioned 9-5.
If you’ve been struggling with productivity recently, we hope our tips above propel you onto greater levels of efficiency.
Things won’t change overnight, but the first step towards a more productive you is to admit your failings and work on them; it really is worth the time and effort.