1. Impulsive Online Distraction
When a random question pops into your head, write it down instead of going straight to Google. You always can look it up later. Or, take this tip one step further and use a tool that blocks your access to certain online websites.
Do whatever it takes to get the job done.
2. Feeling the Need to Cheat
Psychologists call this moral licensing, which basically means you allow yourself to behave poorly because you were “good” for a certain amount of time.
Cheating ruins all the good you’ve done in just a few actions. It’ll knock you off your game and make returning to productive habits that much harder. Want to change your life? Rid yourself of moral licensing.
3. Procrastinating Important Work
Your willpower decreases as the day goes on. So stop thinking you’ll pick up momentum if you finish all the fun, easy tasks first. You won’t.
Take a note from Brian Tracy’s book and Eat That Frog: get the hard things out of the way first. Then, you can enjoy the rest of your day by completing your other, easier tasks.
4. Meeting Too Much
I once worked for a guy that called me 5-10 times a day for everything from short “check-ins” to drawn out discussions about some idea he had. It felt impossible to get anything done.
It was a nightmare.
I’ve learned from that horrific experience. Now I don’t take meetings unless someone requests it and has a clear agenda. You should do the same.
5. Thinking You Can Multitask
Just stop. Science tells us that only 2% of people can effectively multitask. (Think you fall among the few? Take the test and see.)
If you’re one of the other 98% of us, stop thinking that you can accomplish more through multitasking. You’ll just end up with several unfinished tasks and that’s the opposite of productivity.
6. Not Prioritizing Your Work
Knowing your priorities gives you control over your day.
Will your top 3 priorities require 8 hours of your time? Then don’t take any meetings. Will they only take 2 hours? Then you have availability in your day to catch up on other work.
Set your priorities first, then fill your day with other tasks.
7. Letting Your Desk Get Messy
Did you know that a clean office can increase productivity by 5%?
That’s an extra 24 minutes of productive work each day, based on an 8-hour workday. I don’t know about you, but I could do a lot with an extra 24 minutes a day. That’s an extra 2 hours a week.
8. Making Yourself Too Available
People will use all the time you give them. If you need to get things done, don’t shy away from making yourself unavailable.
Turn your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode. Log out of instant messaging apps. Shut the door to your office. I’m always amazed at the work I can accomplish when I make myself unavailable.
9. Saying “Yes” to Every Request
My mom always taught me, “Yes and no are equally acceptable answers to any question.”
I love her for instilling that into me at a young age.
If you can’t handle a certain task, say no. As David Allen says, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.”
10. Not Finishing Your Day’s Tasks
Only put things on your to-do list that need to get done that day. Then do those things.
Tomorrow is full of bright hope and empty promises. But you can only take action in the present. When you write something on a to-do list, make the commitment to accomplish that task today. No excuses.
11. Spreading Your Tasks Across Multiple Tools
I often have clients that assign me things within their project management systems. I’ve got others that send me things via email. Others send assignments through Skype.
Instead of managing multiple tools, I pull everything into my own project management system. Consolidating into one system keeps me from missing deadlines, forgetting a small request or overlooking an assignment altogether.
12. Failing to Capture Good Ideas
Great ideas can come at any time. And if you don’t capture them when they occur, you’ll forget them.
Find a system that works for you. Much like your to-do list, you’ll want to find a single place to capture your ideas. Otherwise, it’s still possible that you’ll lose a great idea in your disorganization.
13. Thinking About the Future Too Much
I love thinking about the future. A good 5-year plan makes me happier than I can describe.
But spending all your time in the future keeps you from the present. This kind of big-picture thinking keep you from today’s tasks, and can also leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Only do vision brainstorming once you’ve finished your important priorities for the day, and when you’re feeling confident. If you’re not in a great mood, save future planning for a different day.
14. Waiting to Feel Inspired Before Working
Successful people understand the importance of feeling inspired. But they also understand that you better feel inspired every single day rain or shine.
When I truly grasped this, it changed my business.
Now, I schedule inspiration directly into my day. I have chunks of time where I know I need to get things done. When I know these times are coming up, I can pump myself up to feel inspired during those moments.
15. Believing You Can Sleep When You’re Dead
Missing sleep may make you feel like a superhero, but you’ll soon feel the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation.
You might make some short-term productivity gains by working late into the night. But ongoing sleep deprivation will destroy your focus, mood and high-level brain functions.
It’s just not worth it. Instead of cramming more tasks than you can truly handle into a single day, set aside some of that time to make sure you get some deep sleep.