Are bad habits killing your productivity?
Being more productive is about working smarter and squeezing the most out of each day. At times however, we become our own worst enemy and sabotage our productivity with bad habits and lack of discipline.
Below we list 10 things you need to stop doing in order to make the most of each day.
Hitting The Snooze Button
It may be tempting to hit the snooze button in the morning but by doing so you may be doing you more harm than good. During the night your brain goes through a series of sleep cycles which end with you waking in the morning. During this last period your alertness gradually increases leaving you ready to rise and start the day. By delaying this and going back to sleep we can actually leave ourselves feeling groggy and less alert. By overriding this natural process and climbing back under the covers we are effectively sending the subconscious the message that you are not ready for the day to begin.
Use your bodies natural sleep cycles and when the alarm goes off resist the temptation to hit the snooze button - no matter how tired you may feel!
Using Bright Screens In Bed
Sleep is massively important when it comes to productivity and many of us aren't aware of how looking at bright screens can negatively impact this.
Studies show that screens on smart phones, laptops and tablets emit blue light, which has been shown to limit production of the sleep inducing hormone melatonin - leaving us feeling more alert.
To maximise productivity we need good sleeping habits and by ditching the screens an hour before bedtime we can ensure we get sufficient sleep for a productive day ahead.
Breakfast is often hailed as the most important meal of the day and studies would seem to back this up. Eating breakfast has been shown to reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, improve memory as well as boosting energy and concentration. Indeed research conducted in the UK showed that those who skip a morning meal lose one hour and twenty-two minutes of the working day through poor productivity.
Your first meal of the day replenishes blood sugar levels after a long period without food as well as kick starting your metabolism. All of this means that by eating a healthy, balanced breakfast we are more likely to have a focused and productive day.
Putting Off Difficult Tasks
Procrastination can harm our productivity and lead to wasted time and potentially wasted opportunities.
Research suggests that willpower diminishes as the day goes on, so you should schedule your most difficult and important tasks for the beginning of the day. Doing this means that you will be at your most productive while your willpower is highest, leaving the less important tasks for later in the day.
The added boost given by getting the challenging work out-of-the-way will also fuel further progress and provide a lift in mood and confidence.
Keeping energy levels high throughout the day requires a healthy balanced diet. Snacking on junk food and eating a high fat, high carb lunch will leave us feeling lethargic and sluggish. Prepare ahead by taking healthy snacks and lunch into work and reap the rewards of increased energy levels and productivity through the day. Drinking plenty of water will also keep you hydrated and your energy levels up.
Surfing The Net
Most of us have access to the internet at work and it can be all too easy to allow it to distract us from the work at hand. Whilst it gives us a sense of immediate gratification, it does very little for overall productivity. Studies show that it takes about 15 minutes to get into peak a peak state of 'flow', and so by constantly browsing the internet we take ourselves out-of-state and our production inevitably suffers. Much better to jot down thoughts or questions on a pad and set aside time to follow-up later in the day.
Skipping Your Workout
When you are tired and struggling a little, skipping your workout may seem like a great idea. Studies show however that this can actually leave us feeling more tired and less productive as a result. Morning or afternoon exercise can increase the length and quality of a persons sleep, which long-term leads to more energy and a greater ability to produce! Working out also releases feel good chemicals (endorphins) into the bloodstream meaning improved mood and performance in the workplace.
Exercise has also been linked with improved concentration, sharper memory and lower stress, all of which have an impact on our output!
People check their email approximately 15 times per day. This can have a huge impact on productivity and stress levels - at least according to a study at the University of British Colombia. They found that by limiting email checking to three times a day peoples stress level reduced significantly. These same people also felt more able to complete important tasks and derived a greater sense of accomplishment at work.
As previously mentioned it takes 15 minutes to get into a 'flow' state, so by constantly checking and worrying about email we take the focus off of important work. Schedule time at lunch and the end of the day for email to limit interruptions.
There are exceptions and some emails may be deadline sensitive but the vast majority however, can wait!
Most of us feel we can multi task fairly well (at least where some things are concerned). The reality is that less than 2% of people are capable of doing it effectively. For most of us however it means we lose concentration and reduce productivity. Sticking to one task at a time has been shown to increase overall task completion within a set period of time.
Concentrate on one thing at a time to ensure that your levels don't drop!
Procrastination sometimes comes disguised as perfectionism. We fear not doing a task well enough and so waste time, waiting for things to be 'just right' before we start. Only when the fear of not getting the task done outweighs the fear of doing it poorly, do we crack on. It is alright to have theses feelings, but we cannot afford to let them paralyse us into inaction.
By acknowledging that perfection in unachievable we can let go of fear and create a more conducive and productive environment. Often by just starting something we are able to overcome this fear and produce quality work.