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Do you ever have those days when you feel like you’re going nowhere no matter what you try? We’re all guilty of this; unproductive days (often created by unhealthy habits). Whether at home or work (or both), your brain will sometimes require a break and will refuse to collaborate with you to make things happen. This is completely natural and to be anticipated after a time of intense effort or when you’re really tired.
When this becomes an issue, though, is when you see that there are more days (maybe many weeks or months) when your productivity never truly reaches a high level, and you are constantly battling to catch up with where you should be. When this is the case, it’s necessary to examine your lifestyle to determine if any of your behaviors are to blame. Here are a few examples.
Your Spread Yourself Too Thin
You might be attempting to cram much too much into a short period of time, which can lead to a lot of stress. This can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, among other serious, even fatal, illnesses. However, this isn’t the only issue with taking on too much; your productivity will suffer as well.
If you have fewer projects and tasks to manage, you will be able to devote more time to each one, giving each greater emphasis and attention. The more projects and assignments you take on, the less time you will have to devote to each one, which means your quality will suffer. It also means that your brain might get overburdened, at which point you can get overwhelmed.
Drinking too much can have serious effects on your productivity. Alcohol has a depressive impact, and no one wants to work while they are feeling down. It can also make people tired and uncoordinated, all of which can lead to a significant decrease in productivity. Not only that, but a hangover is sure to have a negative influence on productivity.
Try to restrict your drinking to weekends only, or drink less so that it doesn’t interfere with your job. If you find this too challenging, you may need some more expert help, so don’t put off asking for assistance if this is what you need.
It’s important to get adequate sleep (between seven and nine hours each night) since chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a variety of health issues, including obesity and heart disease. However, although sleeping for a sufficient amount of time at night is necessary, napping throughout the day may be interfering with your productivity.
Attempting to compensate for a lack of sleep at night by sleeping during the day will disturb your circadian rhythm, making it more difficult to fall asleep at night. Insomnia may result.
Another issue with sleeping is that you may have a lot of jobs left undone when you get up from your nap. At that point, you won’t necessarily be in the correct frame of mind to do them, at least not to a high standard, and possibly not at all. However, for some people, a nap can refresh them and make them more productive. If you’re anything like me though (an actual narcoleptic), it has the opposite effect.
You’re Hard On Yourself When You’re Not Achieving
There may be occasions when you just cannot do your assignment or project on time. It might be due to a job, your family, as well as emergencies. Don’t dwell on the problem if this is the case. That’s simply the way things are sometimes.
So, what are your options? Refocus your efforts. Continue your work by picking up where you left off. Complaining will not get you anywhere, and it’s an unhealthy habit to get into because when you don’t just get on with things, you’ll be so much less productive.
You Spend Too Long Planning
Do you gaze at your calendar, trying to figure out how to make the most of each and every minute of your day? Do you spend countless hours tinkering with project spreadsheets and Gantt charts? Planning is crucial, of course, and nothing would get done – at least not well – if nothing was planned ahead of time, but too much planning is a bad habit that will destroy your productivity. I like to call it analysis paralysis.
If you plan for too long, you’ll run out of time to actually do the work you need to do, so you’ll miss deadlines and risk having angry clients or managers because planning takes up far too much of your day. There has to be a point when your planning ends and action begins. And try to make each day as busy as the next, rather than unloading everything on a Monday. Mondays are hard enough as it is, which is why some people need motivational Monday quotes for the week, so don’t make them harder by giving yourself a lot to do.
Not Using All Your Vacation Time
According to a growing body of scientific data, unhealthy habits like skipping vacations is terrible for your productivity, mood, relationships, and may even shorten your life. So make the most of your vacation time and disconnect from the workplace while you’re gone. Encourage everyone on your team to do the same.
You’ll get all of the therapeutic advantages of a vacation while also modeling good behavior for others around you, allowing them to be more productive as well. If your company is one of the rising numbers that offer unlimited vacation, make sure you take at least two to four weeks off every year.
You Put Off Important Work
There are positives and negatives to consider in everything, and understanding your unhealthy habits and how they relate to your productivity has them too. The good news is that your most productive hours are the first two hours of your day, just after you wake up. The bad news is that you probably spend those hours scrolling through social media, commuting to work, and performing other pointless activities— in other words, you’re wasting your most productive times of the day.
If you can plan your day such that your most critical duties come first, you’ll find your mind sharper, and you are much better prepared to face them. If that’s not an option, try getting to work as soon as possible and putting off waiting in line for coffee or checking Instagram until you can devote some time to your most important tasks. This might take some time to get used to, but it will be worth it when you see how much you’re getting done during those first couple of hours and how much time you’re freeing up later in the day for more fun activities.
Multitasking is one of the worst and most prevalent unhealthy habits that completely destroy productivity. This way of working might make you think you’re getting a lot done, but the truth is that although you are doing a lot, none of it will be done to a high standard, and you’ll never be able to fully focus on anything.
The best thing you can do is make a to-do list and write the list in order of priority. Then make sure you follow the list, not skipping anything until each task is completed. Try to put the tasks that you would typically ignore or put off at the top of the list (that’s the premise of Eat That Frog) —once they are out of the way, you’ll be a lot more productive because the other things you have to do are much more fun and easy for you.
Not Removing Distractions and Time-Wasters
The biggest problems when it comes to excellent productivity are undoubtedly the internet, social media, and texting, therefore you must take precautions to avoid being distracted by them. Social media, television, family/friends/coworkers, and gaming are all examples of diversions. How can you deal with these?
The first thing to do is to use site blockers. All of the top web browsers offer a site blocker; install them to your primary web browser right away and begin blocking the worst time-suckers. Then turn off all notifications — because social media is always being updated, if you have notifications turned on, you’re setting yourself up for a never-ending stream of diversions and distractions. When working, turn off all alerts, including text messaging.
My Favorite Tool to Break Unhealthy Habits
I use the Pomodoro method of productivity, and there’s an app called Forest that can help you block chunks of time for getting things done. You tell it what websites and apps you need blocked, and your tree withers and dies if you visit the site.