13 Things You Need to Give Up to Be Productive

Are you really productive at the office? I mean, REALLY productive? I’ll bet there are a million things going on in your life and office that stop you from getting ALL THE THINGS done. You need some new productivity and life hacks before your productivity levels go on a free fall.

Feeling overwhelmed? Start by eliminating these 13 things and you’ll see how much better things will flow:

  1. Trying to tackle too much. This is the metaphorical “biting off more than you can chew”. Your To Do list is so long you never seem to get a single thing completed.

  2. Saying yes to everything. Your To Do list ends up being longer because you say Yes to everything that’s asked of you. You don’t do that in your personal life, so why do it at work?

  3. Not getting enough sleep. Yes, sleep can affect you when you’re awake, increasing your odds of getting diabetes and increasing your chances of crashing your car. You probably notice that you have trouble concentrating when you don’t get enough sleep at night, so increase your sleep hours and you’ll notice a difference in your focus.

  4. Not getting enough exercise. It’s true. Exercise increases energy levels and serotonin levels in the brain, which means you’re more alert. Plus, you’ll be generally more healthy, which decreases the number of sick days, and overall company productivity increases.

  5. Too many meetings. This is why people are working from home more often. Fewer meetings = better productivity. I often said that I got more done in half a day working from home than in a single full day at the office because I’m skipping all those meetings.

  6. Checking email every 15 minutes. Whether it’s on your smartphone or your work computer, we are forever checking our email. Even when there’s no new messages to read. So stop checking it and let the automated notification tell you when you’ve got mail.

  7. Eating horrible, unhealthy food. Processed foods have more sodium and saturated fat, and less fiber and nutrients than fresh, natural foods. That means if you eat them, you’re not getting all the nutrients you need to keep your energy going all day. Feeling full doesn’t mean your body has what it needs to keep going. If you have to eat prepared foods, look for ones with whole grains, have no trans fats, and are low in saturated fat. Buy some fresh fruits and vegetables every couple of days, and snack on those. Your brain and body will thank you.

  8. A lack of urgency. Working with a sense of urgency helps people work harder than normal. Whether it’s in sports or at work, you’re often driven to an economy of motion and you cut out all of the extras. You focus in on the essential tasks/items that you must complete, and only those things. To feel this way, set a challenge with a deadline, set a minimum time to work on something, or be aware of the inherent risk of not completing the task. That should get you moving.

  9. You have tasks on a To Do list, but no plan to help you prioritize. Staring at a big To Do list is depressing. You feel overwhelmed and you end up ignoring most of the list. Figuring out what needs to be done and what can wait can help you be more productive. You’ll actually start crossing things off the list as you finish them. A simple way to prioritize is to group the small tasks together, and then start working on them.

  10. Desktop and smartphone notifications. This drives me crazy. The default setting on any computer or smartphone is to leave notifications on. TURN THEM OFF RIGHT NOW. We’re conditioned to look at anything new that pops in, so every new pop-up, ding, or notification makes us look. It’s not just the manufacturer’s fault, it’s actually your brain. We’re conditioned to look at motion or pay attention to new sounds.

  11. Not taking breaks. Pushing through your breaks and lunch break might get your project done, but you’re burning yourself out. It’s more like a vicious cycle. Sitting for too long decreases your blood circulation. This in turn means your body and brain is just getting the bare minimum levels of oxygen they need to survive. You start to lose focus and concentration because of the lower oxygen levels. Add to it the fact that your blood sugar is low because you didn’t eat lunch and your concentration is really low. So eat your lunch, and go for a walk around the office. Go pick up that report at the printer furthest from your desk. Get moving!

  12. Too much office chit chat. Chatting with your colleagues on a break can be good. Talking with them every 10 minutes is bad. You end up interrupting not only yourself, but also your colleague. We humans are social creatures, sure, but that doesn’t mean you have to constantly be chatting with people all the time. Focus on your work through to completion before taking that break.

  13. Long commutes to work. These days most people spend so much time commuting to the office that they’re tired all the time. They get up early to get to the office at the regular time, work all day, and then do the same long commute on the way home. And all this fatigue is cumulative, so by the time the end of the week comes, you’re exhausted. This is why a lot of people are telecommuting to their jobs. They save all this time, and are more refreshed as they work. If that’s not an option for you, maybe you’ll have to move closer to your work, or find a job closer to your home.

Eliminating these time suckers will make you a more productive person at the office. They’ll probably even make you a healthier person too. Who doesn’t want that?

Got any other tricks up your sleeve? Let us know in the comments below!

photo credit: Mohammed Alnaser via photopin cc