We all have a set idea in our heads of how to be productive- as well as the tools that enable us to achieve said goal of being productive. We take for granted some of our work staples as helping us to achieve our productivity goals, but the opposite is often true: sometimes they’re actually sapping our productivity. Like traitors in our midst, they promise efficiency but steal it instead, leaving you to wonder where all your time has gone.
Let’s uncover them and figure out how to make them work for you and not against you!
1) The Internet
The big Kahuna of the time wasters. The Internet is a wonderful thing- it has enabled us to do research and access information faster than anyone could have ever imagined. Unfortunately, it allows us to look up pictures of cats jumping and failing with equal ease. The information superhighway is actually more like an unstoppable firehose of information, and our brains have a hard time keeping up with the flow.
So next time you need to get something done, try actually physically unplugging your cord or turning off your wi-fi for the duration of the task. You’ll be amazed at how productive you are when you can’t check Facebook!
2) Cell Phones
Cell phones are another big time sink. Ideally, they’d be perfect for productivity: it’s connectivity on the go, enabling near-instantaneous response time to any email or text. Nothing could be better, right?
Wrong. Cell phones encourage us to look at them: they draw our attention with little notification signals and sounds, breaking our concentration and distracting us from the task at hand, causing our productivity to drop like a stone. Turning off your phone eliminates these little distractions and helps you get the job done!
3) Other People
While working in an office certainly has its benefits, other people can sometimes get in the way of your productivity. In a perfect world your co-workers would be hubs of knowledge that complement your own, letting you bounce ideas off of them and work in tandem. In the real world, however, they often just want to chat, or ask questions that could be answered later, or any number of little things that can knock you off your game.
A great way to remedy this is to have a “closed door” policy: let people know when you have an important deadline coming up and shut your office door. This will cut down on drive-by interruptions, ensuring that only true emergencies reach you and freeing you up to devote all your brainpower to what you’ve got to accomplish (and not idle water cooler talk).
4) To-do Lists
To-do lists seem like a great idea. In fact, they’re an almost necessary one- there’s no way you’d ever get anything done without them, right? You’d never remember the three dozen things you have to do on any given day, not to mention the tasks your boss is giving you on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, while to-do lists are necessary, they’re actually counterproductive if you don’t set a specific schedule to them: unscheduled to-do lists can often be one of the worst productivity killers out there. Instead of just having a jumbled to-do list, schedule out your day precisely- it’ll help you be more productive without letting everything pile up.
5) Working Overtime
Working overtime seems like it would help your productivity. After all, more hours worked means more work done- that seems like a simple enough equation. If you put in more hours throughout the day, that hard work pays off and translates to higher productivity.
Except that it doesn’t- more studies coming out are showing that working more hours in the day actually starts to dramatically reduce productivity, and that taking breaks and cooling off are some of the most important things you can do to stay productive. So next time you want to work twelve hours straight, just remember that it’s actually counterproductive: take the night off, or at least take a long break before returning to work to return your productivity levels to normal.
What other tips do you have to combat work inefficiency?