If you find yourself getting to 5pm feeling like you’ve barely touched the work you’d planned to do, or if you have trouble focusing then check out these 13 time wasting habits you need to stop right now!
Whether you’re the boss, a manager, a new grad, student or anything between, saying no to these habits will improve productivity in your days!
1 – Leaving emails open and always being available on messenger – This is a massive distraction and a complete time waster. You can’t focus on the task in hand if emails are constantly popping up. You need to find a way to close your emails. You could set times when you check your inbox, or if you need information from an email immediately close your inbox afterwards.
2 – Not being clear on your goals/targets or having too many – often jobs have multiple parts to them and they’re filled with endless amounts of tasks and “important things”. In these situations it’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day time wasting activities. You need to be 100% clear on what your key goals/targets are across the year, quarter, month and week. If you don’t know what these are, how are you meant to work effectively? If you’ve not been set any, create them for yourself. Sometimes this is just about being a bit more confident in your abilities!
3 – Not knowing your critical tasks – Make sure you’re clear on which tasks will get you closest to your targets. Some tasks will move you forward 80% others only 5%. Often people focus their days on activities that only move them forward by 5% without even realising, but if you identify the 80% tasks and only focus on those, just think about the time you’ll save.
4 – Not structuring your days around critical tasks – if you allow yourself to respond to whatever comes up in the moment, such as an email or a phone call, without really thinking then you’re wasting time. You’re allowing yourself to be distracted which is a big drain. If you can organise and structure your days around your most critical tasks then you’ll work more effectively (and you won’t be left at 6pm trying to catch up!). Of course you need to be helpful, but there’s a limit to this (refer to point 13!)
5 – Not having ONE task each day that HAS to be completed – If you want to be efficient then each day focus on delivering ONE task that will move you along the furthest. This is vital if you’re in a job that has a lot of “fire-fighting”. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the day’s dramas and before you know it the days over and you haven’t done any of the work you had planned. This is why being absolutely clear on the ONE task you need to do is vital. This links into point 2 because to know the ONE task each day, you need to be clear on your targets.
6 – Avoiding the hardest task – Usually the ONE task that gets you closest to your goal is the hardest, so people tend to procrastinate around it. You might spend 20 minutes faffing around before you start, or allow yourself to be distracted by a phone call. Sometimes this is because of self-doubt. But if you want to be out in the sun you just need to get on with it. Sorry to be blunt but it’s true! As the Nike slogan says “Just do it!”.
7 – Not blocking out time in your calendar for your own work – If you don’t take control of your calendar everyone else will. That means, if you don’t block in time for your own work then it’s a free-for-all with meetings and calls. Before you know it it’s 5pm, you’re meant to be meeting your mate but you need to work late. Let me be clear – Schedule meetings with yourself so you can complete the ONE task you identified is vital to complete (refer to point 2 and 5). It’s important you add these meetings to your calendar so other people can see you’re busy.
8 – Starting your day by checking emails – It’s a common misconception that you need to check your emails first thing. A lot of people enjoy the morning ritual of drinking a coffee whilst seeing what’s going on, but this is a HUGE distraction. Unless you need something specific then do not check your work emails. Your morning is the perfect time to focus on the ONE task you must complete that day. Do yourself a favour and block out 1-2 hours in the morning to focus on your own work, rather than dealing with everyone else’s drama. The start of the day is the perfect time to crack on with the hardest task.
9 – Having your notifications on – You can’t focus if your phone is constantly buzzing. Even if you think, “I’ll check it in a minute”, it’s still disrupted your focus. Switch off notifications for all social media and your emails.
10 – Not ending your day by planning tomorrow – how you finish today sets you up for tomorrow. If you know what you need to do tomorrow you can hit the ground running.
11 – Allowing other people to distract you – People will always try and distract you with a “could you just…” or “This will only take a minute…” or “this is urgent”. Sometimes things are urgent and you need to switch what you’re doing, but most of the time things can wait. You need to take control of your own day. You’re not being rude if you ask someone to get back in touch in an hours’ time.
12 – Complaining – complaining about bosses, colleagues, situations, the way things are happening has zero benefit. Unless you’re coming up with constructive ways to improve things don’t let it take up your time. People love to complain, you’ve probably sat in meetings where people spend 10mins complaining, this is a huge time waster and it’s incredibly negative. Don’t get drawn into complaining based conversations and definitely avoid being the instigator!
13 – Saying yes to too many things – Be a helpful person, but don’t always be the yes person!! You need to say no A LOT because you can’t do everything. Saying no to something means saying yes to something else.
If you’re working from home then implementing just a few of these points is sure to increase your efficiency!
Got questions? Pop them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you 🙂