By Evan Vitale
Productivity is the name of the game and in today’s ultra competitive market, understanding the pitfalls of distracting, time-wasting behavior can help rearrange your day in a more efficient manner. If “you are what you eat,” you are also what you dedicate your time to. Bad habits like checking your email every 15 minutes, aimlessly roaming the office, or perfectionism may become your downfall as important projects slip through the cracks and your focus and attention lay elsewhere. Here are 5 bad habits you should break in order to make the most of your work day.
1. Stop checking your email every 15 minutes.
If you are one of the 32% of Americans who respond to an email within 15 minutes of receiving it, or the 23% who respond within 30 minutes, you are checking your email way too often. Most of the mail you receive is classified as non-urgent with a typical 24-48 hour response window. In high pressure situations when you know someone may be expecting an immediate response, it may make sense to check your email frequently; however, in the future, take some time to focus on one project at a time, devoting a solid 60 – 90 minutes on the task before disrupting your flow and checking in external situations.
2. Along the same lines, stop multi-tasking!
We all believe we’re the best multi-tasker we know, and many companies welcome employees to feel said way. However, in truth, your brain primarily focuses on one task at a time. Constantly switching between browser tabs, readings, emails, write-ups, and the likes will make you less productive. If the tasks relate, gently intertwine them. Otherwise, schedule your time appropriately, scheduling one task after the other.
3. Perfectionism is getting in the way of your best work.
You should always double check your presentations, re-read emails, and generally treat your work with caution. Yet constantly micro-analyzing your own work will create a productivity deficit that may be hard to recover from. Perhaps try a school work approach by composing a rough draft, walking away from the project, and then returning at a later time when you’re less critical, less fatigued, and have a better perspective. Efficiency is key in a fast paced environment and in order for you to yield high quality results, you have to let go of perfectionism – no matter how much of an oxymoron is may seem to be.
4. Disorganization will be the bane of your productivity only if you let it.
Disorganization is killer. Whether it’s your planner, iCal, Google Drive, or work station, staying organized will help keep you on task and focused. Many fail to recognized how a messy desk can in fact cause subconscious stress and undo anxiety. Disorganization may even tempt you to procrastinate actual work, wasting copious amounts of time working through the chaos instead of producing results.
5. Answering every distracting invitation aimed your way in the affirmative will stifle you.
On average, employees are distracted every 11 minutes. Because of this, your momentum is never quite revved up to full capacity. After you’ve been interrupted from your work, you’re more likely to participate in bad habits like checking your email as mentioned above. Additionally, if you have an issue saying “no,” yes-man behavior could land you in a predicament where you now have way more tasks than you can effectively complete, leading to excessive multi-tasking and disorganization.