Business leaders are always looking for the latest trick, habit, or piece of technology to boost productivity. If something can make us 10 percent more efficient, then we should take advantage of it. This is especially the case when you are an entrepreneur or manager responsible not just for yourself, but others.
Boosting productivity isn't just about picking up new habits, though. Part of the battle is reducing unproductive tendencies. Many of us fail to do this despite the fact that eliminating bad habits may be more effective than adding new ones.
Looking internally at tendencies that halt your productivity will allow you to hone in on the most detrimental ones and fight against them. Doing so may leave you much more effective in your work environment and with your teams.
Here are eight of some of the most common productivity-killing tendencies that you can eliminate to work smarter and help skyrocket your output.
1. Failing to exercise and eat well.
Many workers in today's society suffer health problems because they work too much. Exercising a few times a week may help you become more productive, thanks to the positive effects it has on your body and mind.
Failing to stay hydrated or eat healthy food is just as detrimental as not exercising. Your body is running off of the energy that you provide it, and in order for it to be firing on all cylinders, it needs the proper nutrients.
2. Checking your phone or email while you work.
Working near your phone and with your email open is common among millennials and other younger workers. Doing so may be detrimental to your focus, though.
Instead of delegating 30 minutes of hyper-attention to the task at hand, you're always interrupted by notifications. When that happens, you're unable to get fully immersed in the project. With such constant distractions, you might be thinking more about the next text or email coming in than the project you're working on.
Instead, close your email and turn your phone on silent. You will be shocked at how much more you can accomplish with complete focus for even an hour or two.
3. Not putting enough effort into hiring.
Hiring strong candidates is one of the best things you can do with your time. When you find good people to bring onto your team, it can make your life much easier. They can offer greater contributions. This can be especially true when you hire someone competent enough not to need micromanaging, which is a problem for some managers (more on that in a bit).
If you focus more time and energy now to find a very strong candidate, the decision will reap productivity rewards down the line. The best employees are able to get a lot of work done and accomplish a tremendous amount, making the upfront effort worthwhile.
4. Become comfortable delegating.
Too many managers don't know how to delegate—and it's harming them. They're too accustomed to doing tasks themselves or getting them done in a certain way. If you're one of these folks, you have to let go. Give the work to someone on the team. It will take a significant amount off of your plate.
Hiring well can make a difference, as mentioned. But a huge portion of this is just getting over the mental block around what it means to let others do work for you. It can be scary to give it up, but doing so can leave you with more time to focus on the bigger picture.
5. Failing to capitalize on your most productive hours of the day.
There are parts of the day when your brain is feeling energized and you are primed to be most productive.
The most efficient people capitalize on these hours by doing their most challenging work then. They don't stick themselves in meetings or coffee dates during those times. They reserve those activities for when their minds have less energy to expend.
Learning more about your body and habits will help you find the situations when you are most able to focus. Are you a morning person? Do you love to burn the midnight oil? Using your favorite time can help dramatically spike your productivity.
6. Neglecting to invest in systems that will help you in the long term.
In the short term, there's not much benefit to setting up systems or processes. But over time, they can pay for themselves.
A helpful example is becoming more comfortable with your computer. Do you know the shortcuts to jump between all your windows and applications? Is your inbox set up for maximum efficiency? The details seem insignificant, but when you spend as much time in front of your screen as you likely do, optimizing speed may yield results.
These inefficiencies exist all over your working life. Again, finding processes that you can make more simple or automate may pay off long-term.
7. Failing to get enough sleep.
As with exercising and eating well, you have to get enough sleep. You may be tempted to burn the candle at both ends and work when you could sleep. However, any of us who have tried that know it's not long before productivity and mental health take a dip. It becomes harder to stay focused and do your best work. Giving your body its necessary sleep is almost always worth it.
8. Forgetting about your future self.
Through the craziness that is life, it is common to forget about future you. You probably make choices that you don't have to worry about now, but will come back to bite you later.
When you can feasibly help this future self, you should absolutely do it. That means being thoughtful about the future events you sign up for and meetings that you take. It also means making files or pieces of information that you know you'll need later easily accessible.
Taking ten seconds now to save that email in a specific folder so that you don't have to spend five minutes looking for it down the road is a worthwhile investment.