Having a day job and several other projects on the side can make one feel fulfilled and active. However, time and energy can become sparse resources and managing them properly is a day-to-day challenge.
My real calling is music, but that doesn’t quite pay the bills yet. I needed a day job and I saw myself with considerably less time and energy to do as much as I did during unemployment. Surprisingly, lack of time made me ask myself if I was truly using it wisely. Self-reflection uncovered some of my issues, and they may be yours too.
Here are 7 habits that hinder productivity:
- Procrastination and uncertainty. Fear of making the wrong choice and fear of the unknown can lead anyone to put off making a decision. Every hour that you spend not making that decision can have negative effects on your well-being and daily productivity. Finishing an unpleasant or boring task will make it easier to complete the easier tasks of the day.
- Multi-tasking. We’ve all heard of the Pareto principle which states that 20% of your efforts yield 80% of total results. The way I’ve experienced this principle relates to the famous “flow state”, which is defined by maximum productivity and pleasure. Oftentimes, I find that it takes me more time to reach that state of flow than to actually finish a task from start to end. Multi-tasking defeats that purpose because shifting from one activity to the next makes it hard to build momentum.
- Waking up without a purpose. Most people live their lives on auto-pilot, following a routine and not taking the time to plan their day. Technology doesn’t help either because social media lures us into a state of indifference towards ourselves and interest in trivial matters. Once you’ve set some clear things that you want to do that day, your mind will be on your purpose and you will be less distracted.
- Not applying what you learn. Although not applying what you know is basically doing nothing, learning something without actually using it is a counterproductive habit. Let’s say that you want to learn Photoshop and you’ve decided to watch a 5-hour tutorial. While you’re watching it, try to go through the tools within the video and experience the software yourself. The information will stick way better than simply watching the video and actually using the software hours or days later.
- Not trying to do things differently. The habit of doing things the same way without trying to find more creative ways to finish things can limit your potential. Humans have survived and reached this level of evolution by constantly evolving and coming up with creative ways to live life and solve problems. Just think about how much more you can get done in a day if you were to focus on improving your reading or writing speed. Technological innovation helps us achieve more with less time and effort. The best thing you can do is to keep an open mind and adapt to new situations.
- Lack of sleep. Regardless of what you’re doing, if you’re too tired, it will take longer and it will be harder for you to focus. Lack of sleep actually lowers IQ and you might experience brain fog. Although you might feel tempted to get things done and not let the day go to waste, it’s much wiser to focus on getting the sleep you need. When you wake up the next day, you will feel recharged and it will be easier to get things done.
- Lack of physical activity. People underestimate the importance of physical activity. Not long ago, most humans used to put lots of effort in hunting and gathering. Nowadays, physical activity is optional, but many view it as a natural anti-depressant. When you exercise, your brain releases serotonin that helps elevate mood and make stress easier to handle. Dealing with stress constructively will help you overcome obstacles that interfere with your flow.
It’s easy to slip into bad habits without realizing the consequences to your productivity.
Self reflection is a great way to review your habits and make sure you are doing the right things, and omitting the wrong ones.
Doing more doesn’t have to be exhausting, when you are doing more of the right things.
Question: What habits are holding back your productivity, and how can you change them? You can leave a comment by clicking here.