Happy Halloween little witches and demons! While I was brainstorming to find a proper theme for today’s blog post, I’ve been thinking that what scares me the most in my fast-paced work environment is to waste my time on trivial stuff while the truly important, money-producing activities are pushed to the side. Working overtime to compensate for my lack of organization could really impair my relationships and would throw a punch in my well-planned work-life balance. So I thought, why not share with you the top 7 Spooky productivity mistakes that you might be making? I thought it would help some of you achieve better balance in their work, so let’s dig in!
7 Spooky Productivity Mistakes
1. Not sleeping enough
As long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from insomnia. Even as a toddler, I wouldn’t nap, because I just wasn’t able to fall asleep. This problem still has dire consequences on my productivity. On days when I can only get by 4 hours of sleep, I cannot expect getting anything done. In my case, it is the result of a neurochemical imbalance in my brain and have to be treated with medication. But I know some of you think they can get by on 5, 6 or even 7 hours of sleep and perform normally. Well, think again. Research has shown that someone who sleeps less than 7 hours a night has the same cognitive function as someone who’s been drinking over the driving limit! To perform at your peak, aim for more than 7 hours of restfull Zzzs every night. Check out the excellent book Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson if you’d like to learn how to improve the quality of your sleep.
2. Leaving your notifications on
How many times a day do you interrupt your work because of the dings and pings of your cellphone? If you’re anything like the average worker, you check your phone up to 200 times a day. According to Carlson’s law, each time you’re interrupted, it takes you longer to resume your work than the time it took to check your phone. That’s a lot of precious work time wasted by unimportant meaningless notifications! While you work, turn off any notifications that are not critical to your work and feel the difference in your productivity. If you’re an overachiever as I am, put your phone on do not disturb and be amazed by how much you get done.
3. Not putting your golden hours to good use
According to Dan Ariely, productivity expert and professor of psychology at Duke University, everyone of us have 2 solid hours of peak performance each day, what he calls golden hours. A good management of your productivity involves to take advantage of your golden hours. Work on your most meaningful tasks during those times, instead of wasting them on menial stuff like social media and email. Identify your peak performance time and make sure to preserve this time for the real meaty stuff you want to get done.
4. Emailing all day long
Talking about email, according to a recent poll conducted by the respected McKinsey Global Institute, workers spend an average of 28% of their days reading and writing emails. That’s a whole lot of time! Thing is, we tend to think that we’re productive when we respond to email as soon as they come in, but the truth is that by batching your email sessions and keeping far from your inbox the rest of the day allows you to get a whole lot more done! Use buffer blocks to schedule your emails in the morning, after lunch break and at the end of the afternoon to free your days from the slavery of emails.
Ah, the famous multitasking myth. If you didn’t get the memo, multitasking is not working. In fact, it might just be the exact thing that’s affecting your overall productivity! Let’s do a little experiment. Today, put a timer on for 25 minutes and work on one single thing at a time. Just one. This is called the Pomodoro technique. And tell me after that if you got more done than usual. I bet you will! You can read my full article on why multitasking is your enemy and what to do instead here.
6. Delaying harder tasks
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
― Mark Twain
Author Brian Tracy has been inspired by this quote from Mark Twain when writing his popular productivity book Eat That Frog. His idea of eating a live frog is to tackle the big, ugly task you’ve got to do, your frog, first thing in the morning. Then your whole day runs smoothly and you’ve gained tremendous momentum to get the rest of your tasks done. On the contrary, if you put off doing the harder tasks, they’re hanging over your head all day and you’ll be dragging trying to accomplish everything else first. What might probably happen is that you’ll keep pushing off the ugly tasks from day to day and lose confidence in your ability to get stuff done. Eat your frog first thing in the morning, and you start the day a winner.
7. Thinking you can do it all by yourself
Sometimes, you’re checking all the boxes on your todo list, you’re getting it all done, except you’re doing exactly the stuff you shouldn’t be doing. Think of all those tasks you’re doing by yourself that are clearly not in your field of expertise. You’re doing them because you want to do it all. You don’t want to delegate. How much time do you waste that way? How long would an experienced worker be spending on this exact same task? What could you be doing instead, while the rest is getting done?
As a blogger, a lot of stuff happens in the backend. Coding and formatting my website takes a long time because I need to learn everything as problems arise. By paying a professional to fix the bugs on my site, I can spend that time coaching my clients and writing the content that you’ve come to enjoy. What a better use of my time!
There you have it! 7 spooky productivity mistakes that may have been hindering your ability to produce your best work and spend time on what’s most important to you. Most are easy to fix and require a few tricks and a good dose of discipline. No nuclear physics here. Just simple tips that are easy to implement.
Now let me know in the comments below, what is the productivity mistake you’ve been making, and what will you do to improve? Until next week, follow me on Facebook for my new column, mini tip Monday!
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