Productivity is something that many professionals find particularly elusive. It’s a slippery bar of soap that seems to become less obtainable as you attempt to grip it with greater force. However, if you study some of the world’s most successful individuals – including business owners, CEOs, real estate investors, professional athletes, etc. – you’ll find that they’re proficient at eliminating time-wasting behaviors and supplanting them with more efficient processes and models.
To give you a better idea of how you can boost your own productivity, let’s review some of the time-wasting habits that successful professionals consistently snuff out:
1. Constant Connectivity
Modern technology is nice, but too much connectivity to mobile devices and communication platforms is detrimental to your overall productivity and output. Rather than keeping all devices and notifications turned on all the time, productive professionals disconnect for periods of time.
If email is keeping you off task, disable push notifications on your smartphone. If social media is a problem, log out each time you’re done using a platform so that it requires more effort to get back on. You might even silence your phone for blocks of time to avoid unwanted distractions.
2. Watching the News
The news is divisive and sensational – it always has been and always will be. Ratings are based on how fearful and anxious the networks can make their viewers. So why are you watching/reading?
By turning off the news, you can eliminate the cancerous effect negativity has on your brain and instead focus on the positive, tangible things on your daily to-do list.
3. Doing Everything on Your Own
For ambitious self-starters, it’s hard to let go. But you’ll eventually get to a point where you have an unreasonable number of tasks and responsibilities on your plate. It’s at this point that you have to decide whether you truly want to be chronically stressed, overwhelmed, and unfocused. Assuming the answer is no, you must learn how to delegate.
Career and business strategist Jenny Blake encourages people to think about delegating in terms of the “T” words. She suggests delegating tasks that are tiny, tedious, time-consuming, teachable, time-sensitive, and/or which you’re terrible at.
Most people think they’re pretty good at multitasking, but the truth is that we’re all fooling ourselves. Very few people – if any – are truly at their most productive when they juggle multiple tasks.
Multitasking works against the brain by requiring you to start and stop – to incessantly shift gears. While you might be able to address multiple responsibilities in a shorter span of time, you’re actually less effective at each individual task than you would be if you simply focused on one to completion.
According to productivity expert Joel Lee, “singletasking” is best when you need to get through multiple cognitive tasks. If you try to multitask with cognitive tasks, it’ll just slow you down. There are, however, situations where multitasking does work. Lee believes it’s best when you can combine a single cognitive task – like reading a book – with a single non-cognitive task – like running on a treadmill.
5. Drafting Long Emails
How much time do you waste drafting long emails that nobody actually reads? We’ve all been there – copying and pasting, changing words, proofing, rereading, etc. – but it’s almost always a waste of time and mental energy.
Short emails take less time to draft and actually get read by recipients. Cut the fluff and ask for what you need. Use quick bullet points to denote separate questions or needs.
Get More Done
Have you ever noticed that people love to talk about how busy they are? Being manic and overworked has somehow become a badge of honor in society – yet we all hate it.
Well, guess what?
You probably aren’t as busy as you think you are. You’re just talented at wasting time, which crams your schedule together and bleeds out any free time you have to relax and unwind.
What would it look like if you became 10 percent more efficient with your waking hours? Assuming you’re awake for 17 hours a day, we’re talking about reclaiming almost 1 hour and 45 minutes. That’s huge! Can you imagine how this additional free time would change your outlook on life?
The key is to stop imagining and start doing. By eliminating bad habits and replacing them with smarter processes, you can put yourself on a path towards greater professional success.