Creating and sticking to a work routine allows us to manage it much better. We feel stable doing the same things every day, but we often don’t realize that some of our habits may impede on our productivity. What’s worse, we may even think that they help our efficiency.
Here are 10 common habits people think are productivity-boosting, but really aren’t at all.
1. Stop smoking
It would be great if people inhaled productivity skills with a smoke, but let’s be realistic – that is not what actually happens! In fact, your concentration decreases from one cigarette break to another. You don’t gain any extra concentration or productivity; instead, you come back to work with further distraction.
Moreover, you can’t focus when you’re anxious to take your next smoke break. If you would like to be more productive and happy about your work, you should quit smoking or do not smoke during work hours.
2. Limit your daily coffee consumption
We all love coffee! However, we also forget that coffee stimulates our brains only at certain doses. An acceptable daily amount for healthy people is roughly 400 mg, about four cups of brewed coffee. Within this limit, coffee can stimulate areas in your brain responsible for planning, attention, and concentration.
When you exceed the recommended amount, it can have the opposite effect: caffeine can cause feelings of anxiousness, irritability, and restlessness, so be mindful to not exceed four cups a day.
3. Select appropriate music
What you listen during workday is up to you. When you choose music that you know and enjoy, your brain produces dopamine that can you more excitable, rather than focused.
Instead, choose soothing music such as classical or ambient. Avoid albums you are familiar with – find something new that will help you relax and act as quiet background noise, which has been proven to help boost focus.
4. Limit rewards
When you accomplish your task (i.e., writing a guest post), you may reflect on how difficult or time consuming it was, and decide that you need a break. That may be true, but you have to be careful.
You drink a cup of coffee, have a little chat, browse Facebook for five minutes, make a sandwich, and before you know it one reward has turned into several. Try to figure out what your single reward will look like. Choose a specific reward and period of time for your break and stick to it!
5. Separate learning from working
Learning is vital to developing and increasing your business. You should learn as much as you can and apply what you learn in practice. You cannot allow learning to distract from the work you need to complete, though. Set aside special dates that you will devote to learning only.
6. Communicate in silence
Keeping in touch with other team members can be productive, as you can get answers quickly and get back to the task at hand. However, it can be extremely harmful to your productivity when a single question turns into off-topic discussion and soon enough, everyone is distracted from their work. A great solution is to utilize Skype or other employee communication tools such as instant messaging to communicate quickly and efficiently.
7. Avoid unnecessary meetings
Meetings enable us to share ideas, but they can also be time and productivity killers. If possible, try to change the structure of meetings in your firm. In order to lead a productive meeting that doesn’t waste valuable office hours, set a time, agenda and objectives for the meeting. Invite the appropriate people (don’t invite copywriters to a developers meeting), and be prepared to lead your attendees through the agenda and keep everyone on topic.
8. Don’t get distracted by less important tasks
“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” wrote Henry D. Thoreau and he was 100% right. Stop working on everything. It happens all too often that you have to quickly answer an email, solve a ticket, and correct something else while you are working on your key task.
Group your tasks from the most important to least important. Get used to working with a notepad open and write down all the little things that come to mind – you can handle them later.
9. Go home when you’re done
Don’t be the person who confuses working hard with working smart. Some people sit at the office until late at night, trying to convince themselves and others that they are being extremely productive. In reality, they are overworked, overwhelmed, and distracted.
Follow the golden rule: do not work a minute more than you have to. Go home, spend time with family, set aside time for hobbies you enjoy, and rest. It is not about doing the most work, but doing your work very well.
10. Make friends with the word “no”
When you say yes to every request for help, it will appear that you are very busy. However, you are very busy doing everyone else’s work without being able to give your own tasks the proper time and attention.
It may be difficult to say no, but it will get easier with time. Some people may take offense, but you need to prioritize your own work above helping others complete theirs. If you have time when your own tasks are finished, it is perfectly fine to assist a co-worker in need but you need to keep your own productivity as a priority.
If you struggle with things such as excessive coffee consumption or being easily distracted at work, I hope this article is valuable to you. If you enjoyed reading, or if you know of other good habits for productivity, please let me know in comments below! Do you know someone who has problems like these? Share this post! Thank you!
Jan Godlewski, creative writer at TimeCamp. Jan writes about productivity hacks, self-growth, time tracking and project management.