As someone who has always struggled with productivity, I’ve tried and tested many different methods to get to the point where I am now (75% more focused and motivated than a few years ago).
Ultimately, the internet will give you a million different things to try out – which can be so overwhelming you’ll find yourself being even less productive as a result!
So to help, I’ve narrowed it down to 9 things you can stop doing right now if you want to boost productivity and get things done.
Let’s jump straight in:
Multitasking – it’s something we all do, right?
We want to do it all, so rather than focus on one thing at a time, we try to cram as much in as possible.
But here’s the thing to remember – you may get more done by doing this, but it’ll be done poorly.
Case in point:
I thought I could listen to a debate while writing this article. I didn’t get much further than writing the title before I got distracted. 10 minutes went by in which I could have written a couple of hundred words!
The reality is, when we split our attention between multiple tasks, our productivity decreases. The brain is forced to divide its energy and focus.
So instead, try tackling your most important tasks first thing in the day, one at a time. If you must multitask, save it for the smaller, less important tasks (like folding laundry and catching up on your favorite Netflix series).
2) Don’t neglect breaks
It’s easy to think that powering through will help your productivity.
I’ve often thought, “If I just get this task done, then I can take a break and relax properly.”
But the truth is, that break could give you the boost of energy you need to get the job done well. Stepping away, clearing your mind, and eating/drinking something is crucial to remain focused.
With that in mind, I’m not advocating for half an hour breaks, twice an hour!
Opt for shorter, snappier breaks instead.
This will look different for everyone; I prefer to get up and stretch my legs once an hour, grab a cold drink or snack, then get back to work (takes approx 5-10 mins).
Other people might break their time up by working solidly for an hour or two, then taking a 15-20 minute break to recharge.
The point is, you’ve got to find what works for you, but when you do?
You’ll realize just how much your productivity improves!
3) Avoid poor time management
I’m going to say one word – procrastination.
Now, I’m not here to judge, I used to be the queen of it. But honestly, it’s the most counterproductive thing to do if you want to be productive.
So first things first – put the phone/tablet away! Remove distractions from your working space…shut out the cat if you have to (cruel, I know, but necessary).
Secondly, find a time management technique that works for you. Here are two to consider:
- The Eisenhower Matrix: This tool helps prioritize tasks by dividing them into four categories based on their urgency and importance: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and not urgent or important.
- The Pomodoro Technique: Focus on your work for 25-minute intervals, with a short 5-minute break in between each interval.
Ultimately, this will take some effort on your part. I know how hard it is to break out of poor time management habits, so start slow but be consistent.
I’d also suggest giving yourself little rewards when you stay on track – if I go the entire morning without checking my phone, I’ll reward myself with a little ice cream or snack…or a few minutes cuddling the cat!
4) Quit being a perfectionist
Repeat after me:
Progress over perfection.
When we focus on perfection, it’s easy to get hung up over minor details that don’t actually contribute to the overall project.
You might spend ages trying to get the font of the report just right, but your employers couldn’t give two craps about that, they’re more interested in the content!
So, while it’s good to aim high, try not to sweat the small stuff.
Or, as I like to do, get the main bulk of the work done. If there’s any time left over, then I’ll go through and do all those niggly bits that can be time-consuming.
Either way, the work gets done on time though.
5) Never neglect self-care
It might seem strange that I’ve added self-care to the list, but it’s for good reason:
When you’re not rested, hydrated, or fed, it’s much harder to be productive.
So that means no more late nights, cramming yourself with junk food, and only drinking energy drinks!
Our bodies need good fuel to keep us focused and engaged in our work. Energy doesn’t come from thin air.
And if you’re neglecting yourself, you’ll find it much harder to be motivated to work productively.
Here are a few tips to consider:
- Sleep at least 7-9 hours depending on how much your body needs
- Eat a healthy breakfast and drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Exercise regularly to keep your body healthy and mood happy
- Look after your mental health and recognize the signs of stress and burnout so you can make changes before it gets too tough to manage
6) Don’t overload your to-do list
It’s tempting to add EVERYTHING you need to do to your list in the morning. And when you complete it, it gives you a sense of satisfaction, right?
Except, I wonder how many times you actually make it to the bottom of that long list?
My guess is not often.
You see, the more you add to your to-do list, the more overwhelmed you might feel.
And this can actually cause you to procrastinate rather than tackle the scary list in front of you.
So, instead, prioritize the most important 3 tasks of the day. Put them at the top of the list.
If you want, you can also add a couple of non-priority tasks under, but they should only be tackled once you’ve completed the main 3.
I probably wouldn’t go over having 6/7 tasks on your list for the day, and even that might be a stretch.
The point is, be realistic with your expectations – you can’t pile in a week’s worth of stuff into one day and expect to get it all done.
7) Stop working in a cluttered environment
I don’t know about you, but I cannot stand working in a cluttered space. I’ve always stuck by the saying:
A cluttered space = a cluttered mind.
So this is your reminder to get organized. If you work from home, make sure your office area is free from household junk, kids’ toys, old coffee cups, and anything else that might be lying around.
Clean it, crack open a window, and put on a nice scented candle. Trust me, your work will improve as a result.
And if you work out of the house, make sure your office space is kept neat and tidy. Put up a motivational picture or introduce chair beads to help your body relax as you sit at your desk.
Make your working area a space you actually want to be in, and your productivity will increase.
8) Don’t work without setting goals
Working without setting goals is like swimming with no destination in sight – you could end up drowning.
And more than that, you’ll be unclear and unfocused on what needs to be done.
Break your goals down by starting long-term…what would you like to achieve in 5 years? A year? 6 months?
Then, get smaller – how can you achieve your 6-month goal? What do you need to do every month and every week to get there?
And finally, you can work on your daily goals that’ll then contribute to the weekly/monthly/yearly achievements.
See how it all comes together?
I like to write down my daily goals the night before, just so I’m clear on what I’m doing the next morning. Others prefer to do it first thing while they sip their morning coffee.
Whichever style you prefer, just make sure you do it consistently so it becomes a habit.
9) Stop ignoring technology that can help
And finally, let technology help you boost productivity!
Apps such as Trello or ProofHub will help you stay organized and on top of your tasks – you can set deadlines, keep track of your progress, and have easy access to everything in one place.
This guide will give you a good overview of different tools that could help with productivity.
And look, it might seem daunting to put your entire project or work life online if you’ve never done it before (although in today’s day and age, you’re probably already using the online world a lot already), but these tools are usually pretty simple to use.
And not only will they do the hard work of organizing for you, but they’ll help with productivity by giving you a clear overview of your progress!
So, we’ve covered 9 things to stop doing if you want to get more done during the day.
These tips have been centered mainly around working, but you can apply them to housework, running errands, and more!
Just don’t give up at the first hurdle – it takes time to change old habits and create new ones.