Boost Your Productivity by Breaking These Four Bad Habits
By Liz Scavnicky-Yaekle
Break these four bad habits to pump up your productivity.
Waking up without a morning routine. Rushing through the morning can have negative consequences on your sense of emotional well-being and overall productivity. Without a morning routine, it’s easy to skip important activities such as meditating, working out, and worse yet—skipping breakfast. Starting your day off in a frenzy requires your brain to work extra hard as it’s pumped with adrenaline first thing in the morning, inevitably causing it to crash later on. Dale Carnegie’s first Human Relations principle to overcome worry, ‘Live in “day-tight compartments,”’reminds us to resolve and follow a morning regimen. Carve out a morning ritual of what you must do before leaving for work to be your best all day long, and watch your productivity, mood and attitude soar!
Tackling easy tasks first. It is human nature to address the easiest of all of our day’s tasks first. The satisfaction of crossing items off our to-do lists is all too tempting, however this approach is an ineffective way to use our brains. Taking on the most challenging tasks early on in your day will maximize your productivity according to countless studies. For example, as revealed in the book, The Willpower Instinct, researchers have concluded that willpower is a finite resource that steadily declines during your workday. It’s best to tackle tough tasks early in the morning when you’re most focused. The satisfaction and momentum from completing the more challenging tasks will also give you a feeling of accomplishment and confidence that will last all day long.
Rapidly responding. Yes, it’s important to be responsive, but interruptions such as instant messaging and a constant deluge of email jar our focus. The cost of rapidly responding is vast—it takes more than 25 minutes, on average, to resume a task after being interrupted! 1 When the urge to respond to email is coupled with our psychological need to check our social media notifications, our productivity plummets. Instead, carve out specific blocks of time when you will check email and your social media feeds. Turn off any notifications you possibly can to ensure you stay focused on the task at hand. Not turning notifications off means they will continue constantly interrupting you all day long, causing your productivity to crash.
Paying only half attention. All of the aforementioned distractions make it practically impossible to actively listen to other people. Dale Carnegie’s 7th Human Relations principle, ‘Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves,’ underscores the importance of paying full attention to the other person speaking. Only listening to half of what someone has to say can cause confusion and sends the message that the other person frankly is not worthy of your undivided attention. Instead of looking at your laptop or phone during meetings or an impromptu watercooler chat, make strong eye-contact and fully listen to the other person. If not, it could cost you in terms of productivity—and relationships.
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