From your health to your workplace environment, a large number of factors can affect your productivity. While you can’t control all of these factors, you can certainly work on improving your habits. Certain bad habits, such as skipping breakfast or constantly checking email throughout the day, can negatively impact the way you work and your results.
Try to avoid these nine bad habits that can make you less productive.
You Don’t Sleep Enough
Do you often work late at night when you have an important presentation the next morning? That actually may harm your productivity. Research shows that a good night’s sleep is vital to performance. Without sleep, your brain’s ability to focus decreases, your decision-making and creativity suffer, and you struggle to remember important details. Why? Because your prefrontal cortex — the area of your brain in charge of important problem-solving tasks — can’t function well on poor sleep. Check out these seven strategies to help you get a better night’s sleep.
You Skip Breakfast
While nearly everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, most people still don’t think twice about leaving home with an empty stomach. From improving your cognition and focus to enhancing your mood, a nourishing, balanced breakfast plays a huge role in ensuring you have a productive day. Just avoid sugary, processed cereals that can cause a blood sugar crash and instead choose healthier options with protein, minerals, and complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, beans, and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.
You Check Email Throughout the Day
Constantly checking your email can lower your IQ and reduce your ability to focus. You also may lose an average of 20 to 25 minutes each time an email interrupts you in the middle of a task and you have to resume work after responding to that message. So, unless your work requires you to respond immediately to all emails, check your email inbox only twice a day (or whatever schedule works for you). Finally, remember to switch off email notifications whenever you work on something important. You also can check out these inbox management tips for more ideas.
You Multitask Frequently
Multitasking is the bane of performance. It makes people feel like they can do more in less time when it actually slows them down and reduces their productivity. When you multitask, you can’t fully focus on any one task. This can cause you to make mistakes, miss important details, and waste a lot of time. “Monotasking” and batching provide more efficient ways to work.
You Don’t Prioritize Tasks
If you don’t prioritize your tasks, you may end up wasting much of your productive time working on unimportant tasks and leave no time for items that really matter. In general, try to reserve the morning hours for really significant projects because your mind remains fresh, alert, and open to learning during this time. If you put off important tasks until later in the day when your energy levels wane and fatigue sets in, you may find yourself unable to devote the time and attention they require.
You Don’t Exercise Enough
Regular physical exercise improves your concentration, sharpens your memory, reduces your stress, and promotes a better mood — all of which can enhance your productivity. So when you skip your daily workout to spend more time at work or due to sheer laziness, you actually lower your productivity. Now that’s something to think about.
You’re Too Good (Or Bad) at Planning
Can you ever be too organized? It seems you can. If you plan your day down to the very last minute, anything unexpected — like an impromptu meeting request — can throw you off track. To prevent this, aim to plan for five or six hours of real work and leave room for last-minute assignments. At the same time, overly impulsive people who jump into new projects without proper planning also can harm their productivity. It’s not easy to figure out your next steps unless you have a final destination in mind. With a clear, well-defined goal and an outline of how to get there, you can review your progress at regular intervals and adjust accordingly.
You’re a Perfectionist
Perfectionism may not always prove beneficial. If you strive to excel at everything you do, you can spend days planning and visualizing your project only to shrink from taking real action due to fear of failure. Procrastination is another bad habit common among perfectionists. They often put off tasks for later because they don’t want to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or anxious. To free yourself from this habit, you must stop thinking of your self-worth in terms of your performance.
You Can’t Say “No”
Your productivity can plummet if you say “yes” to every distraction that comes your way. Distraction comes in many forms — from social media updates and emails to other projects and needless meetings. Soon, the exceedingly huge number of things on your plate can overwhelm you and leave you with the deeply demotivating realization that you spend too much time on tasks that don’t align with your priorities. Both of these feelings can negatively impact your productivity. If you find it difficult to say “no,” read this article by Porch Founder and CEO Matt Ehrlichman for inspiration. So what’s the good news? You’re not alone. Most people have one or two of these bad habits. While some of these habits may lead to major consequences, others typically result in less damage. Awareness is the first step to finding a solution that works for you. With a little bit of commitment and effort, you can easily overcome these habits and, ultimately, boost your productivity.