4 Habits That Are Killing Your Productivity at Work
We spend a lot of time at work, that’s no secret. But when you’re at the office, are you really being productive? In fact, think about your last work week. How many times did you have to force yourself to get back on track? How often did you get distracted or rush to complete something on time?
Especially with the prevalence of open offices and the numerous distractions available to you, it’s easy to look up and realize it’s 1:00 p.m. and you haven’t even started on your to-do list.
We challenge you to stop doing these things next week and see how your work productivity skyrockets.
Checking Emails Constantly
It can quickly become overwhelming to see your email inbox constantly ticking up. To keep it under control you feel like you need to respond to emails as soon as they come in. But when that happens, you’re having to focus and refocus on your other tasks constantly, taking up valuable time and effort.
Instead of responding immediately, dedicate certain parts of your day to only responding to emails. Your schedule could include an hour of emails in the morning, a half an hour around lunch, and then another hour at the end of the day depending on the volume you receive. This way, you have roughly five hours to do other work relatively uninterrupted.
And if you find you have anxiety watching the number of unread messages increase, try opening your email in a separate browser or using a tool like Boomerang to pause your inbox altogether. Out of sight, out of mind.
Attending Too Many Meetings
Meetings are a necessary evil in the workplace. Yes, there are some that are actually useful and productive. But we’re willing to bet you attend at least a few every week that are pretty pointless, ones you could delegate to someone else or ones you could even stop attending.
Take 30 minutes to look at your calendar at the beginning of the week. Is there anything scheduled on there that can be canceled, discussed over email, delegated, or that you aren’t familiar with? If so, take action and get that time back.
Always Saying Yes
In that same vein, saying “yes” to everything and everyone at work will slowly run you into the ground. One of the best things you can learn is how to politely say no and protect your time, calendar, and ultimately, your productivity.
If you’re more junior, you obviously shouldn’t continually tell your boss no. But if someone from a different team or a co-worker asks you for something that is usually outside of your wheelhouse, don’t be shy to say that you have a full plate. This doesn’t make you any less of a team player. It’s ensuring you’re focusing on being productive so you can be the best team player you can be.
If you’re having trouble with this, talk to your manager about setting clear guidelines. If you have their support, it can be much easier to say, “Sorry, I’m working on XYZ project and it’s taking up all of my time right now.”
Not Taking Breaks
Working straight thought from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. isn’t good for anyone. Your brain needs a break, and no one should eat lunch at their desks day after day. Build at least 30 minutes at mid-day to eat lunch, take a walk or run a quick errand, whatever you need to do to give your brain a mini-break.
Schedule a coffee date or happy hour with co-workers or friends once a week. Getting out of the office and connecting with people in your office or industry is important for networking but also so you don’t burnout.
We’re just going to assume that most of us are guilty of one, if not a majority, of these productivity killers. Start by eliminating one and take stock of the difference it makes. You’ll be a productivity master in no time.