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5 Mistakes That Kill Your Productivity Everyday And How To Deal With It

How often you wake up excited to crush your day, but end up realizing that you fizzled out in just a few hours after starting your day?

5 Mistakes That Kill Your Productivity Everyday And How To Deal With It. Image: ShutterStock

5 Mistakes That Kill Your Productivity Everyday And How To Deal With It. Image: ShutterStock

Sounds familiar?

It happens all the time. Despite all the good intentions, most people end up wasting their entire day.

I’ve also struggled this in the past and I know it’s really frustrating to see your day slipping through, with your desk still flooded with so many important tasks yet unfinished.

Putting in long hours and still struggling to get things done- leads to burnout, health issues and surely not a wonderful destination to arrive at. Needless to mention. Stress, anxiety and overwhelm are the natural consequences.

Why does this all happen?

Why don’t people get the most out of their day despite all great intentions?

Today, let’s talk about 5 mistakes that leave people stranded in the middle of nowhere and waste their day.

Content Summary

You don’t get into momentum quickly
You don’t write your 5 To-Do-Things the evening before
You allow yourself to be easily distracted
You don’t block time for different activities
You fail to assign priorities to different activities

You don’t get into momentum quickly

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it” – Richard Whately

Though everyone thinks that they have 24 hours during the day, but if you look at it from the perspective of productivity, we don’t have that much time really.

You effectively work for 4-6 hours a day at our best and that too in the early hours of your day. If you allow yourself to start your day in a sluggish way by hanging around the coffee outlets or in the morning gossiping with your colleagues, you will end up lingering on your activities later in the day.

If you don’t give yourself momentum early in the day, you will not be able to produce more during the day. You will end up spilling over the work to the next day and then the next day and so on.

Therefore, to be productive, get into momentum early in the day.

Joselyn K Glei, author explains well how quick Easy to finish tasks build momentum in the morning. Though this advice is controversial given the common advice about Eat that frog, Joselyn backs up her argument with the concept of ‘completion bias’. But you have to be careful in implementing this advice and not get engaged in finishing 140 letter tweets to get into momentum for other activities. I think it needs using some judgment on what kind of quick acts can help you bring into momentum.

Also, you can quickly get into momentum at the start of the day, if you rectify your mistake #2

You don’t write your 5 To-Do-Things the evening before

“Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent Return on Energy!”― Brian Tracy

Your morning time is too precious to be figuring out and planning what to do next.

Of course, planning is important before execution. Every one minute of planning you do saves ten minutes of execution. But if you don’t plan your activities of the day, the evening before, you will not be able to gain the momentum of your day.

Your morning hours of high energy and refreshed mind are the best for jumping right into execution, so you need to be crystal clear the evening before about what needs to be done next day.

Of course, there will be some days, when you see some fire to be addressed on priority, but that should be rather an exception than a rule. The rule should be to immediately start working on your most important things that you jotted down the prior evening.

You allow yourself to be easily distracted

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” – Alexander Graham Bell

Productivity doesn’t depend upon the quantity i.e. number of hours put, rather it depends on the quality of hours i.e. the intensity of focus on the activity at hand.

If you allow every social media notification to take away your attention with every beep, you can’t put intense focus on your important work.

If you check emails every few minutes, due to the fear of missing out on some urgent mail, you really can’t focus on your work at hand.

If you permit the news alerts, weather forecast to steal away your attention, you can’t be productive.

The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.

Studies say that it takes on an average of 25 minutes to gain the attention back fully to the activity once distracted.

Therefore, put that smartphone in silent mode, turn off news notification, allocate dedicated time for emails etc. But at the time of work, put your blinders on and work with an intense focus on the work at hand and you will produce your best work.

I have found and have been using a smartphone app “clockwork tomato” that helps in developing an intense focus on the activity in hand with short breaks in-build therein. The app works with a tick-timer notification and requires you to focus intensely for 25 minutes on your work and then it allows you a break of 5 minutes. This cycle goes for 3 times and the next break is for 15 minutes.

This intense focus work with short breaks serves your temptation to get distracted but just for 5 minutes, after you have done focused work for 25 minutes. You can find this app both in android and iOS platforms.

You don’t block time for different activities

What gets scheduled gets done. What doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t get done.” – Michael Hyatt

Not blocking a specific time period for any activities means you will end up spending more than the required time on that activity.

Every activity you undertake means that you are sacrificing your time for any other activity.

Work expands in the proportion to the time you allocate, as Parkinson’s Law says. Means if you don’t allocate specific time for different activities, you will continue to work on that activity at the cost of other important activities.

Not allocating specific time blocks for different activities will lead to wasting of time on the activities that could have taken way less time.

Use a timer or put a timer on your computer showing an online time like to track time is spent on different activities.

You fail to assign priorities to different activities

All activities are not of equal importance. Some are more important than others. If you fail to assign right weight to the activities, you end up doing those things that were even not required to be done in the first place.

Obviously, preparing an important report and delivering in time to your manager is way more important than just responding to one colleague’s email seeking random information. Focusing on serving your high-paying client is definitely more valuable than spending time on small value clients.

The 80/20 rule is one of the most helpful concepts for time management. Also known as the Pareto Principle, this rule suggests that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results.

Do you want to know what are your 20% activities that will contribute to 80% of your results? I found this short article by Mark Manson very specific on the subject. How to 80/20 Your Life.

On the similar lines, Stephen R. Covey in his famous and my all-time favorite book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, divides different activities into four categories:

  • Urgent and Important
  • Not Urgent and Important
  • Urgent and Not important
  • Not Urgent and Not important.

What’s the use of doing activities that are not important for your goals. Covey suggests while we should eliminate slowly non-important work, but alongside we need to become pro-active towards our important works, so we don’t have to react till they become urgent.

After all, Productivity is not about doing more things. It’s about doing the right things in the first place. It’s about becoming effective.

By Som Bathla

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