Bad habits slow you down, decrease your accuracy, make you less creative and stifle your performance. Some bad habits cause more trouble than others, and the nine that follow are the worst offenders. Shedding these habits will increase your productivity and allow you to enjoy the positive mood that comes with increased self-control.
1. Impulsively surfing the internet.
It takes you 15 consecutive minutes of focus before you can fully engage in a task. Once you do, you fall into a euphoric state of increased productivity called flow. Research shows that people in a flow state are five times more productive than they otherwise would be. When you click out of your work because you get an itch to check the news, Facebook, a sport’s score.
Most writers spend countless hours brainstorming characters and plot, and they even write page after page that they know they’ll never include in the book. They do this because they know that ideas need time to develop.
Meetings gobble up your precious time like no other. Ultra-productive people avoid meetings as much as humanly possible.
4. Responding to e-mails as they arrive.
Productive people don’t allow their e-mail to be a constant interruption. In addition to checking their e-mail on a schedule, they take advantage of features that prioritize messages by sender.
5. Hitting the snooze button.
When you sleep, your brain moves through an elaborate series of cycles, the last of which prepares you to be alert at your wake up time. This is why you’ll sometimes wake up right before your alarm clock goes off — your brain knows it’s time to wake up and it’s ready to do so. When you hit the snooze button and fall back asleep, you lose this alertness and wake up later, tired and groggy.
Multitasking is a real productivity killer. Research conducted at Stanford University confirms that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.
7. Putting off tough tasks.
We have a limited amount of mental energy, and as we exhaust this energy, our decision-making and productivity decline rapidly. This is called decision fatigue. When you put off tough tasks till late in the day because they’re intimidating, you save them for when you’re at your worst. To beat decision fatigue, you must tackle complex tasks in the morning when your mind is fresh.
8. Using your phone, tablet or computer in bed.
This is a big one that most people don’t even realize harms their sleep and productivity. Short-wavelength blue light plays an important role in your mood, energy level and sleep quality.
9. Eating too much sugar.
Glucose functions as the “gas pedal” for energy in the brain. You need glucose to concentrate on challenging tasks. With too little glucose, you feel tired, unfocused and slow; too much glucose leaves you jittery and unable to concentrate.