10 Things That Are Killing Your Productivity

Being productive is what is going to make you more successful at work. Every action you take, and how you react to what happens to you, is everything. There are those workers who will learn from mistakes, still maintain a positive attitude and be smart about how they manager their time. Then, there are others, that will get distracted and end up not accomplishing very much. In this current work environment, you have no choice but to be a productive worker or you may get replaced by cheaper (and more productive) labor. Below I’ve listed ten things that can really drain your productivity.

1. Focusing too much on the future. A lot of workers can get distracted by trying to live in the future, when it’s critical that they should be concentrating on the “now.” Of course you should have a long term direction for your role, but in order to get there, you have to spend your time wisely each day on what matters. Do at least one thing every day that helps you reach your longer term goals and keep yourself in the present, without getting distracted by what could happen in the future. You don’t have that much control over future outcomes especially with how much things change these days.

2. Delaying decisions. It’s really easy for you to push tasks back but that won’t work in your favor all the time. The more you delay important decisions, the less productive you will be. People delay their decisions because they might not know the right answer, or don’t want to be bothered with making a decision immediately.

3. Technology distractions. Technology can make your life easier and more productive if you use it properly or it could waste a lot of time. Instead of reading updates from your friends on Facebook, use productivity tools like Evernote in order to better manage your tasks. Stick to fewer technologies and use the basics instead of flooding yourself with all these different sites and utilities. The more tech gadgets you use, the more complicated your life will be and that’s unnecessary. For instance, because of the time people spend on technology, for every 10 minutes they fool around online they spend 2.7 fewer minutes working (3.75 minutes for people in their 30s).

4. Stop multi-tasking. I tend to try and do multiple things at once because I’m so bombarded with work and responsibilities but it ends up being counterproductive. The more you do at once, the less you really accomplish. Multi-tasking can also delay your ability to meet deadlines and lessen the quality of your work. Research also shows that it’s not actually possible to multi-task because humans aren’t built that way. The art of multi-tasking is all about distractions so you should avoid multi-tasking if you want to be productive.

5. Don’t be a perfectionist. A lot of people delay finishing a project because it’s not “perfect.” I have news for you, nothing will ever be perfect and it’s far better to finish something than to dwell on it for days and days. A lot of people will review a document over and over again and are never happy with it. Instead of having that attitude, tell yourself that you only need to check it two or three times and after that, it’s final.

6. Not doing your work right the first time. If you aren’t putting your full effort into a project the first time around and your manager isn’t happy with the result, then you have to go back and do it all over again. That is extremely time consuming, and it also makes you look bad. You need to stop multi-tasking and focusing on doing the best you can on your current project so that you don’t have to repeat it again. In fact, if you do a great job on the project, you should be able to do it twice as fast the next time around, which will increase your productivity.

7. Saying “yes” too much. Some of the more productive people I know are the ones that say “no” to a lot of requests. Stop feeling bad that you don’t have time to help everyone that emails you. Your time is really important. If all you do is take on everyone else’s work, you can’t get anything done for yourself. People are more understanding than you think as long as you explain your work situation to them, they will understand. If they aren’t willing to pay you for your services, then you can’t invest your time there because it won’t get you anywhere.

8. Eating the wrong foods. If you are eating junk food for breakfast or lunch, it’s going to really harm your productivity because your body will have to process that food and it will wear you out. The healthier you eat during the day, the more energy you will have to get work done. Make sure you eat healthy consistently too or you will only develop bad habits.

9. Worrying about the wrong things. Don’t worry about what others think about you. Of course, you should take some of their feedback as it could help you become a better worker, but some feedback is a waste of your time. Don’t worry if something doesn’t work out like you intended it to because you don’t have control over all outputs and variables as they occur. Worry about what you’re doing in the moment and how you can do your best work, while having no regrets.

10. Don’t complain. Instead of complaining about things that happen to you, be someone who is accountable for their work and take charge of your life. If you aren’t happy about something, then do something about it. Everyone has bad things happen to them so it’s important to learn how to deal with the bad and make the best of everything you do.

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Dan Schawbel

Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and management consulting firm. His new book, a New York Times best seller, is called Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin's Press) and his previous book, Me 2.0, was a #1 international bestseller.

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