Quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to your workday. Sure, getting in a full day is crucial, but those hours mean nothing if you can’t figure out how to use them productively.
Productivity in the workplace is a tricky topic, because a productive workday is going to look different for everyone. The more we learn about productive work habits, however, the more we realize that there are some commonalities when it comes to increasing productivity.
Most notably, we’ve identified several things that could be cut out of your workday that will make you instantly more productive. Saying goodbye to these things could deliver the productivity boost you’ve been waiting for.
- Coming in late. Want to get your day off to a good start? Then get to work on time. You want to make the most of every minute if you’re going to increase your productivity. When you show up on time, you’re demonstrating—to yourself, your colleagues, and your boss—that you’re reliable, respectful, and committed to your work. Starting out with this mindset (rather than a rushed, stressful one) is more likely to lead to a productive day.
- Notifications. It’s hard to be truly productive when you’re constantly interrupted by pings, dings, and rings. While it’s perfectly fine to have your notifications on during a break or at lunch, notifications during work time are going to do nothing but distract you, pulling your mental capacity away from your work and making it harder to be truly productive. Turn off the notifications and your productivity will benefit from it.
- Multitasking. An article in Forbes points out that “the brain cannot effectively or efficiently switch between tasks,” and also that it takes a considerable amount of time to recognize “new” stimuli. Plus, it says, retention rate is lower when you multitask, so any work you do get done might be done incorrectly, or you might forget how to accomplish the task for next time. In these ways and more, multitasking hurts your productivity. Focus on one task at a time; in this case, less really is more.
- Constant email checking. For many of us, checking email “real quick” is pretty automatic. It’s much too easy to open up your inbox just to see if something new has come through. But even those few seconds of distraction can pull you away from the task you should be focusing on. Instead of checking your email constantly throughout the day, set aside a few chunks of time to check your inbox and respond to important emails. You’ll be much more likely to finish your other tasks effectively if they aren’t being interrupted by email checks.
- Sugar crashes. It’s hard to be productive when you really just feel like taking a nap. Diets high in sugar and carbs can lead to spikes in your blood sugar…which can then lead to sugar crashes that leave you feeling tired, foggy, and anything but productive. Watch what you eat and how it affects you, and be mindful of foods that might cause these extreme highs and lows. When you cut those out of your workday, you can increase your productivity.
- Decision fatigue. Decision fatigue affects many people in very real ways, one of which is that you might feel overwhelmed, unfocused, or hectic. If you’re a person who suffers from decision fatigue, do what you can to cut back on the number of little decisions you make throughout your day. Even things like what clothes you’ll wear or what you’ll eat for lunch can occupy mental space that should be used for being productive. Make decisions ahead of time to avoid getting worn down over the course of the day.
- Unnecessary meetings. Unnecessary meetings can cut down your time and your morale. These meetings often accomplish nothing, and can sometimes throw off an employee’s workday so much that the time following a meeting is unproductive as well. Cutting back on unnecessary meetings can help make the meetings you do have more effective, and it just might increase overall productivity, too. Want help determining whether or not a meeting is necessary? Our useful checklist can help you decide.
- Perfectionism. Trying to be perfect all the time is exhausting. If you’re constantly stressed about doing everything perfectly, you’re more likely to get the opposite result: you’ll be more unproductive. Perfectionism can lead to a “stuck” feeling that keeps you from finishing projects because they aren’t “perfect.” Putting this pressure on yourself isn’t likely to benefit your performance, your work, or your mental health, so it’s time to let go of perfectionism and simply put in your best effort. You’ll be much more productive that way.
Cutting these things out of your workday may not feel like a drastic change, but it could help you notice a drastic improvement in your productivity. Let go of the things that are holding you back, and you’ll be ready to move forward.
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