Do you feel like you're not getting anything useful done despite putting in hours of effort each day? If the answer to that question is yes, then it's time you did something to increase your productivity. Productive days at the office work wonders not just for your career, but your personal well-being as well. You don't even have to develop new habits to be more productive, just forgetting a few bad ones that you might already be indulging in will do the trick. If you want to increase your productivity in the quickest way possible, here are five bad habits you need to get rid of:
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Setting strict schedules
Contrary to popular belief, mapping out a rigid routine for your day's tasks does not increase productivity. Many people love setting their calendars before the day starts, scheduling time slots for all the tasks they have to do. But this isn't the best strategy to adopt. A strict schedule doesn't allow for variances and emergencies which, when they turn up (and they always do), can cause all sorts of problems. You'll no longer have time to complete the other tasks, and your carefully planned day is thrown into chaos. Instead, you should create a simple plan for accomplishing all your tasks on that day without restricting yourself to a strict time schedule.
Frequently checking emails
Emails are ubiquitous in almost all workplaces these days, and they are one of the biggest banes of productivity. If you're in the middle of a task and an email notification pops up, it's best to ignore it for later. Not doing so will derail your train of thought if the newly-received information is completely different from what you were working on. Returning to your earlier state of mind can then take a while and resuming work with the same intensity even longer. The best way to cure email addiction is by deciding on designated times for catching up with your inbox. Also, avoid checking emails after work hours as that increases stress, feelings of time pressure, and increased mental workload.
Multitasking is never as useful as you would imagine it to be. If you think that by working on two tasks simultaneously you can accomplish both in half the time, then you're wrong. Frequently alternating between two different tasks requires a considerable amount of mental effort caused by the rapid shifting of your attention. This in turn increases the amount of time you're spending on each task and decreases the quality of work you're producing. Focusing entirely on one task, and ignoring everything else until it is completed, is the best way for getting things done quickly.
Not taking breaks
Working professionals often think that working longer hours equals to getting more done. But that is completely wrong. The intensity and focus you put into your work matters just as much as how much time you dedicate to it. Not taking breaks might give you more time to get things done, but it will reduce your efficiency and focus. Working non-stop increases your fatigue and stress levels, making it harder for you to focus on what you're doing. This, therefore, increases the amount of time you spend on the task and the benefits of skipping breaks are lost. Research has proven that taking regular breaks increases an employee's productivity.
Aiming for perfection
“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” This sagacious advice by George Patton, a general in the US Army, applies to all those perfectionists struggling with their productivity levels. People who try to get everything perfect down to the last detail have to constantly deal with stress and frustration because their task is a never-ending one. No matter how many small problems — which may exist only in your mind to begin with— you solve, there will always be more to prevent you from marking your work as complete. Instead of following this detrimental process, do your work as well as you can and ignore the small details that are annoying but not particularly harmful to the overall objective that you're aiming to achieve.
Put in an active effort to avoid falling into the trap of these bad habits for a few days and you'll see a dramatic rise in your productivity levels almost instantly. Meanwhile, you can start with this list of productivity boosting quotes to get you motivated.