8 Common Bad Habits that quash Productivity and how to fix them

Image: by Sue Park Pixabay

Letting the Day Run You

Are you the type that never has a working routine? Let’s face it, if you’re in the habit of letting the day run you (working whenever you desire or doing whatever you feel like), then you’re in for failure.

Lack of a proper plan can lead to stress and anxiety, unhealthy diets, poor sleep, poor focus, and not making the most of your time. The opposite is true.

Having a clear working routine not only gets your mind into the production zone but also eliminates the urge for instant gratification.

How to fix it:

We’re not the same. What works for me might not work for you. It’s imperative to make the choices that align with you.

Also, do not beat yourself up for not sticking to your routine. Sometimes plans never go as planned — remember it takes time and practice.

Below is what you should try

· Make your list — focus on what’s important from waking up to what you normally do during the day

· Find what works for you and stick with it — this might call for some trials. The best place to start is by considering what motivates you and what must be done during that day.

· Focus on what you can control — a good place to start with is accomplishing those basic tasks then move on to things that are more demanding.

· Use tools such as Pledge (Android App) — reminds you to do tasks you often neglect and highlight streaks, The Fabulous (Android App) — focuses on creating awesome morning routines, Logsit (iOS App) — an easy way to keep track of your time and activities, iRunuRun — performance and accountability platform, and finally Microsoft Excel Daily Work Schedule — perfect for daily schedule (see the image below)

Excel Daily Schedule
Image: By Author

Procrastination — endless planning

This one is huge. How often do we find ourselves in the circle of planning things and never start working on them? We tend to have that perfect plan — everything taking shape in our heads but never finding its way out.

In fact, we think that the more we prepare and plan the better. The problem with this planning is that it never ends. We either do some revisions for the plan to fit our current state or decide it’s not good anymore and abolish the whole thing. Then start over again, and so on.

Many people who procrastinate tend to do so because it’s stress-free, requires no effort and it’s comfortable. Procrastination happens when you put off a task for later and hope you’ll smash it even faster when you’re much ready.

The truth? That never happens. Instead, you’ll end up panicking and rushing through whatever it is and end with pathetic results.

Tim Urban, in his article Why Procrastinators Procrastinate, illustrates two brains. One for a non-procrastinator and the other for a master procrastinator. While the former has a rational decision-maker only, the latter has a rational decision-maker coexisting with the Instant Gratification Monkey.

The instant gratification monkey’s only concern is the pleasures of the present, which makes it difficult for the rational decision-maker to make rational decisions. I won’t get into much detail here, you can look for the article and read it.

However, the monkey is in charge when we find ourselves playing more and not doing anything constructive. In fact, we might get into productive procrastination, a form of procrastination where one is busy with less important things while putting off the most crucial tasks.

How to fix it:

Let’s be honest, eliminating procrastination 100% is not an easy thing to do. Note that even being self-disciplined is not enough. What then should you do?

1. Plan and execute. It’s that easy, right? Hell no! Effective planning is what matters. You already have that one huge project to accomplish, what you now need to do is break it down into smaller and finer details.

2. Doing. This is the most difficult phase. However, the best way to go about it is by using your plan in the following way: handle one thing independently while putting the rest from your sight. For instance, instead of looking at a book as 450 pages long, look at it as chapters — then read one chapter at a time.

3. Look for an accountability partner. At least have someone to keep you on your toes so that you don’t lose focus.

4. Be slow but consistent. An author who writes one page every day is better off one who doesn’t. If your aim is to write 1000 words article, you could break it down into 100 words pieces and get to work.

5. Put money down. Buy that premium subscription so that you’re forced to finish whatever you paid for and not waste money.

6. Use internal motivators. Consider how your life will change, how your family might benefit, or what you’ll get out of doing something.

I’d suggest you read How to Beat Procrastination by Tim Urban for more solid and practical examples.

Unrealistic to-do list

To-do lists are nice especially when we want to be organized and increase our productivity. However, the urge to achieve more can easily lead to creating an unrealistic to-do list. You know what they say — you can’t bite more than you can chew.

The obvious problem with creating a huge to-do list is you’ll only have checked off a handful by the end of the day. And the worst, panic and anxiety start to kick in, which leads to frustration and disappointment.

You might start to avoid to-do lists in the long run or even scrap them altogether.

How to fix it:

Instead of creating unreasonable to-do lists that you’ll barely check off half of the items on it when the time is due, try and keep your list between 1 and 5 tasks. Your aim is to avoid being overwhelmed.

Also, you could try and create a not-to-do list so that you can focus on what’s important. Another great idea is having a later-do list just in case something crosses your mind, or for things that are less important.

Spending too much time on social media

Social media is one of the greatest technological inventions we have today. There are many benefits that the majority if not all of us enjoy. However, too much of something is poisonous.

Let’s be realistic — social media is addictive, just what the inventors want. The more you scroll, slide, swipe, or whatever, the more money they make.

That’s not the point though, what should scare you the most is the negative aspects, such as depression, loneliness, anxiety, self-absorption, and cyberbullying.

Social media algorithms are designed to glue you on your screen. Go to YouTube and search for The Social Dilemma documentary if you want to understand more about how social media works.

How to fix it:

If social media eats too much of your time that you’d rather use for productive activities, then you could try the following to take back control of your time.

· Disable social media notifications — as simple as that

· Use an app to prevent you from accessing social media for a set time. Some of these Apps include Offtime (blocks what distracts you the most), Flipd (you can’t disable it even after restarting your phone), Freedom, Focus, the list goes on — you get the point, though.

· Turn off your phone until you get something done — requires a high level of self-discipline

· Don’t bring your phone to your working station — seriously. Just turn it off and leave it elsewhere.

· Uninstall your social media Apps

Failing to follow through with things

Following through is unpleasant because it puts pressure on your shoulders to handle things that are unfamiliar and new to us. We always get excited when we figure out off head how we’ll get things done and live our dream lives.

However, things are different when it comes to actually follow through with actions. All our excitement and divine inspiration suddenly disappear when we discover the amount of hard work we need to put in to fulfill our plans and dreams. We can’t follow through anymore.

Why we don’t follow through

Setting bad goals — by now you should be aware of SMART goals and why you need to set them. You can’t follow through if you have a bunch of poorly set goals.

Procrastination — we’re back on this one, again. You can’t follow through if all you can do is delay work.

Distractions and temptations — following through could be easier if the distractions and temptations (such as social media and Netflix) were not as plenty as they are nowadays.

Poor time management — squandering your time on useless stuff.

How to fix it:

Following through can help you increase your productivity and realize your fullest potential. Here is what you should do to follow through.

· Focus — following through demands focus. If you focus on what’s ahead, you’ll not waste your effort and time on irrelevant things.

· Self-discipline — it will be quite difficult to pull through following through without self-discipline. Also, you won’t have problems focusing if you’re self-disciplined

· Action — having focus and self-discipline is not enough to make a successful follow-through. Action is setting the motion, executing the plans, and realizing your goals.

· Persistence — finally, persistence is what will help you to see your dream through. You must be willing to keep pushing regardless of obstacles or setbacks.

Being Slothful

Wow! This is not funny at all.

Slothfulness is being reluctant to work or make an effort. You know what to do but you just can’t do it — you tolerate apathy and carelessness. In fact, some religions define it as the worst sin ever!

You’re being slothful when you just sit there and think, “I’ll take action when things get really bad.”

Sometimes it’s hard to spot slothfulness in a person especially if they appear to be doing very well in a specific area. Overworking in one area and doing nothing in other areas is being slothful.

How to fix it:

Learn to be purposeful in everything you do in life. There’s no other way around it.

Obsessively checking your cellphone

A recent survey on cellphone usage by Reviews.org shows that:

· On average, Americans check their phones once every 4 minutes

· 71% check their phones within 10 minutes of waking up

· 48% say they feel a sense of panic when their phone battery goes below 20%

· 70% check their phones within five minutes of receiving a notification

You can see the whole report here.

What does that tell us? In essence, we can’t survive without our cell phones for long.

Since having our cell phones with us is now a norm, then we must also not allow them to get the better of us.

Obsessively checking your phone has a negative impact on productivity. You’ll barely get work done if you keep checking your phone every other minute.

Other effects include anxiety, depression, sleep deficits, eye strain, and even hallucinations.

How to fix it

Stop having phones and the problem is gone — just like that. However, that’s close to impossible.

What’s interesting, though, is that we’ll rarely be distracted by our cellphones if we’re mindful of the Apps we use. Stay accountable.

You can minimize distractions by either uninstalling some of these Apps or using one of the Apps that I suggested on spending too much time on social media.

Maybe I should add one more trick — how about you try the smartphone auto-timer lockbox?

Perfectionism out of insecurity

I’d admit that I’m at times caught up with this one.

What happens here is having too high work standards. You want to produce the best results by working and re-working on specific tasks.

Perfectionism can lead to stagnation. When you feel what you’ve worked on isn’t good enough so you keep revisiting it. The problem with trying to be perfect is falling behind schedule. Panic too will set in because you’ll now have too much on your plate.

How to fix it:

Focus on finishing your work first, then you can go back and make adjustments where necessary.

Poor Time Management

How many times do you feel like you have so much to do and not enough time to do it? Why is it that some people accomplish so much within a day while others don’t? Remember we have the same amount of time each day.

Poor time management involves a lack of self-discipline, planning, focus, and organization. We tend to channel our energy and attention to things that are not essential such as watching too much TV at the expense of important things.

We “party” more than ever until we no longer have enough time to fit in everything we want to do in a day. We’re unable to achieve small daily goals, making it even harder to achieve long-term goals.

How to fix it:

I intentionally put poor time management last because all the bad habits on this list have a negative impact on time management. If you work on any or all of the possible fixes then you’ll be on your way to spending your time well.

So, there you have it — 8 common human bad habits that quash productivity and the possible ways to fix them.

It’s not hard to quit a bad habit — all you need is a positive mind and the will to try. It takes time and practice to beat bad habits. Don’t quit.

Looking for more ways to build better habits? I’d recommend reading Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Thanks for reading.

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