Productivity is synonymous with efficiency. Our productivity is often hampered by several activities, thoughts, or habits that we just can’t seem to get rid of. These elements occupy our valuable time and contribute towards decreasing our efficiency, and thereby our productivity.
Each minute of our time is precious. The question is, are we treating it that way?
Obviously, there can be two ways to increase productivity; either by increasing our input by extending the number of hours we put into our work, or by simply finding out methods that can help us work smarter.
Some bad habits that are in our daily regimen can potentially decrease our accuracy, lessen our creativity, and ultimately suppress us from performing optimally.
The easiest way to curb unproductivity is to make small changes to your daily routine. This will greatly impact your day-to-day productivity and cumulate with massive benefits. The first step towards achieving this is to identify the habits you feel lower your productivity the most.
Here are some habits that you may lead you to introspect and guide you towards being your optimally productive self.
1. Hitting the snooze button
Often, due to your in-built biological clock (also known as circadian rhythm), your body knows when to wake you up. This is the reason why sometimes, you suddenly find yourself awake before your alarm goes off. Your brain is extremely alert at this moment.
Still, some people choose to snooze their alarms and keep their eyes shut – this results in a feeling of grogginess that is especially hard to overcome. Then later, throughout the day, you feel tired, nauseous, and dizzy. The easiest way to break this habit is to force yourself to wake up despite how tired you feel.
2. Checking your phone every few minutes
When we are engaged in a task, sometimes we find ourselves feeling the urge to reach out for our phone to check the notification we just received or scroll through social media. Sitting down to work and being able to fully engage with a task usually requires 15 minutes of uninterrupted focus, after which you attain a state of euphoric productivity – also known as “flow”.
If we give in to the desire of checking our phones, it would take us those 15 minutes yet again to become immersed in our work. It’s beneficial to either put your phone away, somewhere you can’t reach it, or stick to the good old do not disturb feature that silences all incoming notifications and calls.
3. Not sharpening skills
Having a can-do attitude is not enough to be optimally productive.
It is more important to regularly have the motivation to brush over and enhance the skills that you wield. If you don’t, there’s a high risk that someone who actually does put in the effort to sharpen their skill surpasses you at your work. It’s crucial to hone your communication skills, time-management skills, research and analytic skills along with your creativity. All of these skills ultimately accrue and contribute in an immensely positive way to your productivity.
Contrary to popular belief, multitasking actually hampers your productivity, instead of helping it burgeon. Having to divide your attention and having one particular time slot to complete more than one task ultimately results in a half-hearted effort provided to them all.
Additionally, multitaskers have been reported to not being able to recall minute details and have a reduced span of attention. While trying to do more than one thing at a time, our brain does not have the capacity to perform both tasks efficiently.
5. Not learning from mistakes
It is always important to remember that in a situation, it is better to respond instead of react. To error is human – but repentance is next to
godliness. Out of frustration, we may let our emotions control our thoughts and actions rather than being rational.
We should find a way to let our mistakes teach us, rather than repeating them. It’s crucial to realize and admit to yourself that you made a mistake, and consider it as a stepping stone for future endeavors. By asking questions like, “why did I make this mistake?” and “what was I trying to achieve?” can push us to introspect and help us to try and better improve ourselves. The best takeaway from mistakes is to learn from them and move forward.
6. Keeping the most important tasks for later in the day
It is very tempting to just have to do away with tasks that seem easier and procrastinate doing the ones that require more effort and time. Given, it provides us with a sense of relief and accomplishment.
But the truth is that we are provided with only a certain amount of mental energy, and with procrastination, not only does it decline, but it also harms the progress of productivity. Then, even the thought of attempting “those” tasks becomes burdensome – this is due to a phenomenon known as decision fatigue. To combat this, it is best to tackle these tasks during the onset of the day, when our mind is fresh.
7. Using devices in bed
Most people do not realize how harmful this addictive practice is. Good sleep is essential for all bodily processes, especially the maintenance of the immune system. Each night, the last thing we do before going to bed is check our phone, tablet, or computer for whatever purpose – news, social media updates, or messages. What we don’t understand is how this negatively affects our productivity by completely disrupting our sleeping pattern. The wavelengths that are emitted in the form of blue light from our screen disrupts the production of melatonin – the hormone that is responsible for sleep.
This makes us feel alert and thereby has a significant impact on the quality of our sleep and mood. This is why during the afternoon, we feel sleepy because of the longer wavelengths produced by the sun’s rays. Essentially, as the usage of devices right before sleeping detrimentally affects our sleep schedule, it also contributes to the decline in productivity for the following day.
8. Not sticking to a routine
Last, but definitely not the least, being productive comes hand-in-hand with sticking to a well-thought-out daily schedule.
The reason why our productivity is suppressed is that despite being able to create the “optimum” timetable for the week, we find ourselves slacking when it comes to adhering to it.
This is why it is essential to make the schedules realistic – it should have ample time for ourselves to be able to take a break to do whatever we like, but for controlled amounts of time. As essential as the breaks are, it is more important to have a defined time limit for them, otherwise, we fall into an inertia that is hard to escape from. Identification of priority tasks enables us to do away with them early on so that we have time to revise and recollect them. This also helps us organize our tasks into the given time more efficiently
Mary Jones is the co-founder and editor-in-chief at TopMyGrades, which focuses on career counselling for university students in the US, Canada, UK and Australia. Mary also provides proofreading help as an online service for University students to guide them in with reviewing and formatting their assignments. She has extensive content editing experience and has worked with MSNBC, NewsCred and Scripted in the past. She has also authored blogs on Lifehack.org, Wn.com, Medium.com, Minds.com and many more digital publications.