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You may have an image in your mind of the person that you want to evolve into at work. Maybe that version of you is more skilled, more organized, or more present. Maybe you see yourself as a better colleague, a better boss, or the next head of your department. Maybe you want to take over the world. Whatever your desired outcome, visualizing your future self is only one of the many steps that you need to take to achieve a goal.
While there are multiple steps in the path to success, productivity is an essential ingredient. It’s the peanut butter to the peanut butter cookie recipe and the pineapple to a delicious pina colada. Without it functioning consistently, fulfilling your dreams is merely a thought without substance.
Becoming a productive person requires resilience, a bit of internal upheaval and repeated change. So, it’s helpful to assess the aspects of your routine that support your motivation and evaluate the things that halt potential progress.
If you’re looking to uplift your life to the next chapter or simply achieve a fresh new objective, make sure you understand the true meaning of productivity and avoid the following harmful habits.

What is productivity?

When thinking of the purpose of productivity, the common understanding is that being actively productive means that you should accomplish as much as you can within a set period of time. That’s not really the case. It’s more about working smartly to attain goals, rather than working yourself to the bone. More hours of work at your desk doesn’t necessarily equal results. It equals burnout and a lack of enthusiasm.
Therefore, avoid the stress of thinking you need to go, go, go to flourish and seek an avenue for balance across all areas of your life. That’s the mindset that’ll further your growth.

Stop focusing on the least important tasks

Productivity is a lot like project management. The more you can organize duties and group them into the appropriate sections, the easier it is to focus on the important things, rather than wasting your time with the meaningless ones.
Start each day by deciphering the importance of individual tasks and ticking off the crucial ones first. To aid the process, try the following:
  • Review your to-do list each morning
  • Separate tasks into three sections: crucial, mid-level, least important
  • Allow time in your calendar to complete the crucial tasks
  • Set deadlines for each of the most important tasks

Avoid social media deep dives

Social media is a very addictive habit. While it’s positive in many respects, like staying in contact with friends and family or expressing your creativity, it can also be a form of digital heroin. Therefore, try not to allow yourself to get lost in it and waste away valuable working time.
Here are some tips to kick social media habits:
  • Don’t go on social media first thing in the morning
  • Set time limits for scrolling
  • Check your screen time stats and make a proactive change
  • Delete apps for a while
  • Use apps like TimeIvy to track your online activity

Dodge your desk for a while

A change of scenery will do wonders for enticing motivation. Sitting in the same chair or in the same room is not only damaging to your health, but also to you mentally. That’s why going for a walk at lunch or getting a drink every hour or so is so beneficial.
Within your routine, build time to be away from your desk and stick to it as best you can.

Don’t say yes to everything

You’re not a robot. So, don’t trick yourself into thinking you can multitask all day and fit new projects into a jam-packed schedule. Learn to say no when you know for a fact that you can’t fit it into a normal working day. The more you try and appease people and that voice inside of you telling you to overdo it, the chances are that your stress levels will climb, and your distractive tendencies will take centre stage.
If declining work isn’t natural for you, try the following:
  • Assess your priorities and communicate them clearly
  • Be kind, authentic and honest about your schedule
  • Brainstorm other solutions
  • Practice your confidence and assertion skills

Don’t dismiss the benefits of a team

A good team helps each other grow and thrive in both collaborative and independent settings. Nurturing the benefits of a team and gaining an understanding of how each of you work, and work best together, are vital. Once you trust your co-workers and better understand the dynamic, the more you can rely on others for help and advice, leaving less room for you to overwork yourself or slide into sluggish patterns.

Try putting your mobile phone away

If you know that you’re more productive within certain hours of the day or free of meetings for the afternoon, hiding your phone during this time or turning off notifications can limit interruptions. When you constantly have one eye on who’s messaging you or are habitually waiting for your screen to light up, you take your attention away from the jobs you need to accomplish.

Limit oversleeping

How you wake up and the kind of sleep you get in a night dictates the kind of person you are during the day. Sleeping in too late will cause an afternoon slump and premeditate lazy actions. And poor sleep at night will perpetuate similarly.
To stay bright and alert at work, get sufficient sleep and try not to hit the snooze button too many times.
A few helpful tips for not oversleeping are:
  • Select a bedtime and wake-up time for weekdays and stick to them
  • Leave room for breakfast at home
  • Use meditation to fall asleep faster
  • Don’t leave the TV on at night
  • Plan your morning the night before
  • Track your sleeping patterns using an app or by writing them in a journal

Don’t leave the day to chance

The better you are at planning your day and getting into a regular working routine, the simpler it is to concentrate and assert energy into productive time.  When you go into the day without a strategy or a clear schedule, mindless behaviours sneak in, and you grasp onto any available distractions.
Be strict with yourself but leave room for downtime and healthy breaks.
To help maintain a clear schedule, try the following:
  • Updating your calendar regularly
  • Plan meetings and catch-ups in advance
  • Keep a neat to-do list
  • Use Friday afternoons to plan for the week ahead
Limiting negative patterns is just as important as creating new and healthy ones. Check your habits for faults and make sure you’re not getting too comfortable in anything that’s holding you back.
Regardless of the nature of your dream or the precise goal you have in mind, you need productivity and consistency to climb that mountain. Don’t let productive Mondays turn into unproductive Tuesdays or sink into the belief that things will get done at some point.
The only person accountable for your future victory is you. So, above all, avoid allowing yourself to succumb to excuses and the glimmering attraction of procrastination. With this in mind and the avoidance of the habits mentioned above, you’ll be driven to tackle anything. Even a world takeover.
Caitlin Kerr

Written by

Caitlin Kerr