11 Habits That Can Kill Your Productivity & Focus
Some days, no matter how hard we try, we can't get seem to get our important stuff done. At these moments, we need some motivation, and the first step is to take a look at any habits that can kill your productivity. Sure, it might be nice to have Netflix on in the background when you're getting your work done, but you're going to hinder your progress if you're not giving your tasks the proper attention. And nothing is worse than procrastinating to the point where you're too tired to even check off the first item on your to-do list.
"Sometimes in daily life, the pressure to constantly be producing can build up and we will look for ways — subconsciously — to give ourselves a break from that responsibility," says life coach Stephanie Holland over email. "Unfortunately, by just avoiding, it we usually wind up feeling even more pressure later on to get something done."
Everyone works differently, but there are a number of behaviors that are sure to negatively affect everyone. If you want to seize the day and get as much done as possible, consider ditching these 11 habits that can kill your productivity.
1. Sitting For Too Long
"Sitting too much makes energies in our body stagnate, causing lethargy," says productivity specialist Peggy Sealfon over email. "Sitting has been shown to be the new smoking, and it is hazardous to our health and to our productivity." In addition to boosting your energy, taking a walk can also improve your memory and inspire creativity.
2. Not Sleeping Well
Whether you forego sleep to do other things or you find yourself tossing and turning, lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your productivity. "As a result, we lose the ability to concentrate or make good decisions," says Sealfon. "The solution is to develop healthy sleep habits. Get to bed at the same time every night and make your bedroom dark, cool, quiet and remove all digital devices."
3. Starting Other Items On Your To-Do List
"When I was in college, my apartment was never more spotless than when I had a paper I didn’t want to write or an uninteresting test to study for," says Holland. "Using less stressful tasks to avoid the main one is common. We try to trick ourselves that we are still doing something 'good,' but in reality are just trying to escape."
4. Asking For Too Many Opinions
Sometimes, it's best to leave our people out of it and tackle things on our own. This means not going to everyone we know for an opinion. "We do this in an attempt to avoid some responsibility later on if it doesn’t work out," says Holland. "Or, we can be on the continuous search for someone to support our own opinion, and we will search until we find someone to agree with us."
5. Skipping Meals
If you think you don't have time for breakfast or lunch, think again. A study from the journal Appetite found that skipping meals may be associated with lower energy or motivation levels. Not eating also causes a drop in your blood sugar, which can negatively affect your cognitive functions such as attention, memory, concentration, and general mental performance, according to research from the journal Neurology.
6. Ignoring Obligations
Out of sight, out of mind doesn't tend to get things done. "Sometimes we will just not talk about, think about, write down, or address in anyway what we should be doing," says Holland. "There is some child-like thought in us that if we just ignore it enough it will go away. This is just an immature selfish attempt to be free. There is no one else to do that for us, and we lose a chance to learn something by ignoring it."
7. Staying Plugged In To Technology Constantly
Most of us spend hours looking at our phones and computers, and this can take a toll on our productivity. "Sadly, their constant interruptions — from relentless blasts of media, emails, posts, tweets to texts — are deteriorating brain function, especially memory," says Sesalfon. "The solution is to shut down all digital devices for at least 10 minutes every couple of hours and take what I call a 'productivity pause.'"
It would seem that doing multiple things at once would kill two birds with one stone, but multitasking actually consists of switching your attention back and forth, which can cause changes in your brain that put you in a constant state of distraction, according to research published in the journal PLOS One. Tackle one task at a time instead of trying to do things together.
9. Working Only At Night
Although it is true that some people work better in the morning and others are night owls, research has found that people have a limited amount of willpower throughout the day, so if you wait until afternoon or evening to do all your work, you might not be functioning at your best, according to Business Insider.
10. Eating Sugary Snacks
If you constantly experience an afternoon slump, you might be tempted to reach for a candy bar or soda to give you an energy boost. A study on rats done at UCLA found that a diet steadily high in fructose slows the brain, hampering memory and learning.
11. Not Managing Your Stress
Do yourself a favor and take some time out of your day to do some stress-reducing activities such as meditation or yoga. A study from the International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management found that increased stress leads to reduced productivity in the workplace.
The more you focus and get rid of these habits, the more fulfilling and eventful your days will become.
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