When it comes to getting work done, almost all of us are guilty of procrastinating or wasting time here and there. To get out of these bad habits, we need to focus on incorporating daily activities that can help us be more productive. Although it's important to have good work ethic and manage our time well, certain habits can influence our productivity and set us up to do our tasks efficiently.
"Most people are oblivious to their everyday habits and have no idea just how much time certain behaviors sap from their day," says personal development coach and productivity strategist Peggy Sealfon over email. "If they were to chronicle their waking hours in 15-minute increments, they would be stunned at how much time is wasted due to mindless habits."
Whether you tend to get distracted by pictures of cute puppies or you have a hard time getting started in the morning, you might want to try switching up how you go through your day. Everyone has different strategies that can help set them on a track, but a number of habits tend to work for many people. If you're trying to get more done during the day, try adapting these 11 habits that can help increase your productivity.
1. Clear Your Thoughts In The Morning
"More and more successful CEOs and entrepreneurs recognize the benefits of beginning the morning with a brief period of deliberate quiet," says Sealfon. "I allot a minimum of 10 minutes for constructive self-reflection before I even leave my bed. By allowing time to self-align and set positive intentions, you are able to focus more strategically and use energy more wisely."
2. Keep A Running To-Do List
"By starting each morning reviewing your to-do list and making sure it's scheduled on your calendar, you can limit distractions and move through your day more seamlessly, since you know exactly where you need to be and when," says career and business coach Rachel Ritlop, M. Ed over email. "At the end of each day revisit your list, figure out what didn't get done and why, and then add it to the list for scheduling in the morning."
3. Do Something That Makes You Happy
Research from the University of Warwick found that happy workers were 12 percent more productive than unhappy workers. "Think about a time you were the most productive: you were probably in a good mood, your self confidence was up, and you were feeling pretty great about yourself," says Ritlop. Spend some time enjoying yourself, and you'll end up feeling more creative and efficient.
4. Stay Off Of Social Media
It can be tempting to check Facebook and Instagram throughout the day, but those lost minutes can add up fast. A study from Nucleus Research found that companies that allow their workers to access social media during work lose an average of 1.5 percent in total employee productivity. In addition to taking up your time, looking at social media all day can actually make you more unhappy, according to a study from the Happiness Research Institute.
5. Take Breaks
Skipping your lunch break won't actually help you get more work done in the long run. "Brief mental retreats throughout the day are essential for productivity," says Sealfon. Research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and clarity. "Whether you relax or exercise, the increased oxygenation and activation will result in more optimal and efficient operation of both body and mind," says Sealfon. "You’ll ultimately get more done with less effort."
6. Learn To Say No
"Sometimes 'people pleasers' get offtrack and consumed by a desire to be appreciated and liked, butt in the end, their 'habit' compromises their productivity," says Sealfon. "So stick to the task list and the day’s plan, unless some unforeseen crisis emerges. To prepare for such inevitabilities, make sure to include some flex time.
7. Allow Yourself To Delegate
Sometimes it might seem like having someone do a task for you is taking the easy way out, but you can maximize your productivity when you get rid of some of your workload. "Some tasks are best deferred to others who might be more naturally skilled to execute them more easily and quicker," says Sealfon. "It’s a fine art to determine when to offload a task and to whom. Figure it out early and you will be well served and add exponentially to your productivity."
8. Give Yourself A Reward
Giving yourself a reward after each major task you need to complete can help keep you motivated. Smaller frequent positive feedback and rewards keep people happy longer than a single large infrequent happy event, says Psychologist Ron Friedman in his book "The Best Place To Work." If your employer doesn't offer employee rewards, treat yourself. Enjoy a tasty snack or allow yourself a fun break once you finish items on your to-do list.
9. Let Go Of Perfectionism
There's nothing wrong with taking pride in your work, but overanalyzing too many details can end up taking away time from other important tasks. "Let go of perfectionism, which can be a huge time drain," says Sealfon. "If you’re not sure if a project is ready for prime-time, seek feedback or advice from a trusted associate or friend. Or step away from the task, choose to immerse yourself in something else for a half hour so you can return to your assignment with a fresh perspective."
10. Practice Self-Care
"Most people start to become less productive when they are feeling burnt out, so make self care a priority," says Ritlof. "Whether it's a monthly massage membership, a specialty workout class that you love, or Netflixing your favorite show, make sure it's high on your priority list, even when it feels like you don't have time for it." There's no point in trying to get stuff done if you're feeling exhaussted, sick, and bummed out.
11. Focus On One Task At A Time
Multitasking seems like it would be more efficient, but the opposite is actually true. When we are doing more than one thing at once, we are actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly, and this is actually less productive than doing one thing at a time, according to a study from Stanford University. It harms your ability to recall information later on and makes it harder to filter out irrelevant information.
The more you engage in these type of habits, the easier you'll find your workload to be.
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