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You probably see a lot of information out there on what you should do to be more productive, but not a lot about what not to do. Is it possible to be making productivity mistakes?
And because what’s most productive for me isn’t going to be what’s most productive for you, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to productivity in the first place!
But with that said, common productivity mistakes that likely hinder your efforts do exist.
And the better you understand your work style and find the groove at which you’re most productive, the quicker you can identify and eliminate those time wasters!
So, what are some common productivity mistakes you might be making without even realizing it? Keep reading to find out!
This post is all about productivity mistakes.
What are some tell-tale signs of productivity mistakes?
If you’re not taking advantage of when you are personally most productive during the day, not alleviating your brain from clutter, not setting up “no work” times, or consistently procrastinating…you might see your productivity suffer.
It’s about adding what works for you and ditching what doesn’t. Don’t get up at the crack of dawn to start working when you’re a night person. Don’t force yourself to get work done when you have a million things on your mind and aren’t able to focus anyway.
Do any of the following productivity mistakes seem familiar to you?!
1. Not understanding when your most productive time of day is
We’re all different when it comes to what time of day we’re most alert, focused, and ready to get sh*t done.
If you’re laser-focused first thing in the morning, absolutely take advantage of that and aim to complete the bulk of your work early on! But on the flip side, if you know you work best later into the evening, do just that.
I feel for all my night people out there–you’re probably tired of hearing how waking up at 5am every day is the only way to be productive. “5am” is pretty much sold to us at this point as a golden hour of peak productivity.
But if you’ve tried it and are only slugging your way through the morning because early hours just aren’t doing it for you, then don’t feel obligated to get all your work done at that time!
(Unless your job requires you to, of course. But take note for the days when you can choose.)
Hey, if you get your best quality of work done from 5pm-12am, I won’t be one to judge you!
Pssst…need some quick and easy help with organizing your day around your most productive times?
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2. Not having a master to-do list
You know when you’re in the middle of work and a thought comes to mind of all the little things you “should” be doing?
Start writing those down! Organizing these “random” thoughts by writing them down will A. help take the clutter off your mind and B. help your future-self not stress over “that thing I told myself I was going to do, but what was it?!”
Don’t worry too much about the order in which you need to get things on your master to-do list done. Just keep this list in a place where you can refer back to it and accomplish these items when you have the time.
Some things on my master to-do list aren’t particularly urgent, but it’s nice to have an idea of what I should have on my radar in the coming months. Much better than letting those reminders cloud my head at all odd hours!
3. Believing the myth of multitasking
Multitasking feels like we’re sooooo productive and on top of our business, am I right? We think we can breeze through more tasks faster, huh? Well actually, this is wrong!
Studies show that the act of switching between tasks, especially more complex tasks, makes us less efficient and more likely to make mistakes.
While it only feels like milliseconds when we switch from task to task, these moments can really add up and absolutely make us lose precious time! So don’t do it!
4. Not having set cut-off times for when to start and stop working
I had the much-needed epiphany just the other day that I have GOT to stop checking emails and stats the second I open my eyes and again just before I go to sleep!
You will burn yourself out real quick if your work or school tasks are so intertwined with every part of your day to the point where you have no boundaries.
Instead, train yourself not to check things like work emails, grades, assignments, or other productivity-related things until you’ve at least gotten out of bed for the day.
Similarly, make it a point not to check those things when you head to bed for the night, too.
It is SO important to create healthy boundaries for yourself and your work-life balance.
5. Overbooking yourself
Remember, it’s okay to say no! Do not fill up every little gap in your schedule that you possibly can. Again, that’s another way to get yourself on the fast track to burnout.
Be mindful of your valuable time! Please, please, PLEASE make sure to schedule in time for yourself to do the leisurely activities you enjoy. Or even to simply relax.
I know how easy it is to feel obligated to take on every task that you can and to say “yes” to everyone you know. But at what cost? Prioritize your sanity first!
There is no way you can possibly be your most productive when you are absurdly overwhelmed.
6. Drinking coffee at the wrong time
This one might surprise you. So, apparently, according to neuroscientist Steven Miller (he had a blog about this but it’s down ☹️), there is a wrong time to drink coffee! Can you believe it?
Research shows that cortisol levels (a stress hormone) naturally tend to peak around 8am-9am. And what can also contribute to stress and anxiety? Caffeine!
It’s suggested to drink coffee between either 10am-12pm or 2pm-5pm, as this is when your cortisol levels are at their lowest.
Stress and jitters are never the best for being productive, so it may be a good idea to be aware of when your caffeine intake happens!
7. Not emptying your mind before starting tasks
This goes hand in hand a bit with adding to your master to-do list.
Say, for example, you’re starting a task at the beginning of the day. You’re likely to have thoughts bouncing around about the day ahead of you. Maybe the rest of the day itself, that oil change you should probably get around to, your concerns about what your friend told you yesterday…
You get it. But how can you stay focused with so many little things bouncing around in your head? And chances are, you probably aren’t writing them down before you deep-dive into a big, focused task.
So consider starting the day, or at least before any big task, doing a “brain dump” in a journal or notebook. Just to let your thoughts run free and transfer everything from your brain onto paper.
Better yet, choose a journal that you’ll dedicate specifically to things like master to-do lists and brain dumps! Grab a cute one below!
8. Delaying harder, intimidating tasks
Ah…procrastination. Is it your worst enemy, too? Learning how to stop procrastination is obviously going to boost your productivity.
And a lot of the time, we procrastinate out of fear. Especially if we have a big, daunting task ahead of us. I mean, who wants to tackle that when we can get away with putting it off?
But that’s exactly what you don’t want to do. If you just leave the intimidating tasks sitting there on your to-do list, you’re making the day more stressful for yourself. Not to mention, you’re spending way more energy than you should worrying about the task.
Wouldn’t you rather spend that same energy simply doing the task? Not spending double the energy on worrying AND doing it?
I read somewhere that if you stress enough about something before it happens, it’s almost like going through it twice. We definitely don’t want that!
Which of these productivity mistakes do you find yourself making the most? Self-awareness is the first step toward making progress!
Once you identify the habits that are making your productivity suffer, you’ll be able to understand where you can improve from there!
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