1. You’re Constantly Multitasking
Those that are able to do multiple things at once are highly valued in the corporate world.
The truth is, if you are doing many things at once, you’re not giving 100% of your focus to anything. Inevitably, as a result, you’re becoming less productive.
Studies have shown that the human brain cannot actually perform two or more tasks simultaneously. Rather, they say, the mind toggles between tasks. There is now mounting evidence that multitasking will slow you down, no matter what tasks you are performing. Regardless of how productive you feel, the truth is that it takes more time to complete one of your tasks if you are shifting focus to something else than it would take to focus on that single task alone.
You may be able to get it all done at the end of the day, but why do a mediocre job when you can do a stellar job by just becoming more focused?
Tip: Try Practicing Mindfulness. Act as though the one thing that appears in front of you is all there is and only focus on that.
2. You Do Everything Yourself
I know, I know, if you want something done right, do it yourself. Why? Because you can do it faster and better than anyone else. Because your subordinates won’t be able to handle the assignment and may make a mess of it. Because it will take too long to train them on how to do it. Or maybe, deep down you’re afraid that if others know how to do your job, you’ll become dispensable.
The problem with this mindset is that in the end, the only one that will suffer is you. You will become overwhelmed, anxious, stressed and potentially sick. We all need help to get it all done, and it’s perfectly okay to ask for it. It’s also okay to let go of some of the control. If your job is too heavy for you to bear alone, you must delegate.
The Benefits: Eased work pressures, more time for higher level responsibilities and more time for self-development. Additionally, you get to be a teacher to someone else.
3. You Check Your Email Too Often
Many of us have problems with checking Facebook and Twitter all day long. But unless you work in social media, you know that you really shouldn’t be doing that at work. However, there’s another huge distraction to deal with that you actually are supposed to check at work: email.
Depending on how many people you collaborate with at work, your inbox may be overflowing with requests from your supervisor, co-workers, customers and subordinates. My many attempts to achieve the elusive status of “inbox zero” have been thwarted time and time again.
This goes back to the first lesson about multitasking: it’s hard to focus on the task at hand if you are constantly going back and forth between the task and your latest email request. Productivity guru, Tim Ferriss of “The Four Hour Work Week” suggests that we schedule a time, only twice per day, that we check email. Say 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM, pick a time, stick to it and batch process all of your emails at once. If twice a day is too scary for you, try three or four times, anything will be better than every 30 seconds. This will eliminate the constant distraction of your inbox while allowing you to focus on getting things done.
Trick: Program your mail client to check for new messages every 60 – 90 minutes as opposed to every five minutes.
4. You Don’t Have a Clear Vision
Don’t make the mistake of waking up everyday and only focusing on doing. First, you have to focus on planning. Every morning or even the night before, create a list of what you want to accomplish that day. This will help you to focus on the most important things while diminishing the importance of the less significant tasks and distractions that will likely pop up throughout the day. Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve each day and stay organized in your pursuit of reaching those daily milestones.
5. You’re Working Too Hard
Being a hard worker is commendable. However, it’s not always necessary. Why work harder when you can work smarter? In this day and age, there are limitless technological advances being made in every area of business imaginable. Don’t be afraid to make changes and use these innovations to your advantage. If you’re still keeping your prospect list in a spreadsheet, try an online database like TrackVia. If you’re still lugging around a paper appointment planner, opt for a digital calendar like Google or iCal. If it’s not necessary for you to constantly be in the office, propose to your supervisor how productive you can be at home with your laptop and internet connection. Whatever your situation is, use the technology that you have at your fingertips to make your life a lot easier.
6. You Don’t Sleep Enough
As a long-time sufferer of insomnia, it pains me to hear people boast about how they only need four hours of sleep to get by in order to be more productive, because I know firsthand what lack of sleep can do to your mind, body and productivity. When we don’t rest our bodies and allow it to replenish, we can’t do our best work. The fact that you have more time in your day doesn’t mean that you’re using it in the best way possible. Skimp on sleep and in the short term you will have trouble focusing, make more mistakes, complete tasks more slowly and feel irritable and anxious. Over the long haul, you’ll find yourself getting sick more often – resulting in fewer days worked overall.
Pro Tip: Do yourself a favor and sleep for eight hours each night. Just focus on how to make your waking hours more productive.
7. You Don’t Know When You’re Most Productive
Most of us have a certain time of the day when we are more focused, clearer headed, and energized. I really wish my time wasn’t 6:00 AM, but it is what it is. There are just certain times of the day when you are knocking it out of the box and other times when your concentration is shot. To figure out when you are most productive, it only takes paying attention (back to mindfulness). A little awareness can go a long way. Take a mental note of when you are getting things done like no other and when you are completely useless at work. Now, try to schedule your most important tasks for the time of day that you are most effective and get ready for your productivity to skyrocket.
Now, it’s your turn. What productivity mistakes have you been making? Which do you plan to change?