Personal Development

8 Things Holding Back Your Immediate Productivity

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Are you doing the best you can to be as productive as possible? Yes? Well maybe there's more you could be doing. No? Time to wake up and start filling in the blanks. From cutting back on cellphone time to waking up earlier, there's lots we can do to prepare ourselves for our working day and get us up on the right foot. Let's cut to the point – check out a couple of the things I like to do to try and keep my effectiveness us so I can finish work faster and have more time for me.

1. Not exercising enough

I put this here first because I wanted to start a bit off the cuff. Certainly answering the phone too much, playing on Facebook or keeping your head in your phone are obviously cutting down your productivity – but what about exercise? If you are not exercising regularly or even once a week, what is happening to you? Well for one, muscle atrophy starts to take effect. Because you're not using your muscles, they start to deteriorate, much like bone structure naturally does as we age. But with our muscles, this is something we can avoid with active exercise. Muscle atrophy digs into our life, our muscles and our brains, which is also a muscle. Blood does not circulate as properly as it should and we cannot produce the best levels of natural energy for us. We are animals, and we must be active!

2. Playing on your phone before bed

It's time for bed – no matter how tired you are, chances are your head is still spinning with ideas and concerns. After all, sitting in bed at night is the best place for your mind to go crazy with ideas! It's tempting to pick up your phone and play around for a few minutes (re: hours?) before finally falling asleep, but this is bad news for your productivity. You'll spend hours sitting in bed that could be used to rest your eyes and sleep, and haven't you already spent enough time on your phone today? The bright screen causes rifts in your natural circulation of melatonin, a chemical that allows your eyes to lapse into sleep, which makes your journey to sleeping longer and less relaxing.

3. Being a perfectionist

If you need to get things done, being a perfectionist only goes so far. Painters are perfectionists to some degree because they oftentimes only have that one chance to make their creation perfect – but even then, when do they know is the right time to stop? It's about knowing when the job is done, not about continuing to add more intricacies. You will confuse yourself. Do without the perfectionist attitude, and realize that it's ok to strive for "good enough" or "satisfactory" when you need to move onto another project.

4. Over-planning

Likewise, if you are spending too much time planning, you are just going to confuse your brain. Our brain works on a system of cause and effect, action and reward – when you have too many things planned, you start confusing dates and times, and worrying too much about meeting appointments and punctuality. All it takes are two meetings in a row for you to know what this anxiety is all about! You worry about traffic, timing, your hair, when you can eat…where's the bathroom? Suddenly what was supposed to be a normal day with a few meetings now has you stressing out about the smallest things. It's because you're sandwiching everything together. Spread things out and don't plan for too much. Leave room in your life and schedule for your natural life to unfold.

5. Casual web browsing

Anyone who works on Facebook a lot knows the power of this one – Facebook syndrome, impulsive web browsing, online retail shopping therapy, shiny object syndrome. Kids in high school to the elderly all suffer from impulsive web browsing. One minute you're doing research, and the next minute you're learning about the 2nd grip operator from Terminator 2's dating life in 1989. The internet is full of information and with URL links abound it only takes a tiny distraction for us to lose all grip on what we are doing. So please – stay focused!

6. Checking every…single…notification

If you wonder why you're still at work 2 hours after everyone else, think about your phone behaviour. If you are closing apps while you should be replying to emails or checking your WhatsApp every time your phone vibrates, you are losing precious time that you had when you were focused and "in the game." Keep your phone on silent, keep it out of sight (out of mind), and check to it every hour or four hours, for example. Once you don't think about it, you'll be surprised by how quickly you fly through your duties.

7. Not focusing on one task

Same goes for this. You're answering emails, creating a spreadsheet, on the phone with clients, and trying to find new pictures for your graph – you've got too much going on. Try to streamline your work by getting through each task individually instead of letting it blow you up all at once, all the time. Take a breath, focus your energy through each one systematically and in an effective order for you, and create a good habit for work productivity.

8. Using the snooze button

Finally, if you're hitting that snooze button too much, you're wasting good awake time. It's one thing to use the snooze button for twenty minutes to tease yourself into waking up when you need to, but it's another to actually sleep in way past a comfortable time and furthermore feel rushed and stressed out when you finally have to get ready for work. You don't have time to prepare lunch, do your hair properly or exercise, and you skipped breakfast and now you're in a traffic jam. Wake up when you should, or even earlier, and have time to ease into the day without fret. It just takes the courage to wake up!

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About the author

Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the author of The Belief Principle and an online trainer teaching personal development and online business.  He is also the creator of this blog which has been running since August 2006.