Do you find yourself falling behind in your work even though you’re putting in long days and time on the weekends? Working smarter, not harder means making the most of the time you have and making that time as productive as possible.
- Hitting The Snooze Button. When you first wake up, your endocrine system begins to release alertness hormones to help get you going for the day. When you drift back to sleep, you slow down this process. That extra 6-7 minutes doesn’t give your body time to get back into the deep sleep it needs, so forgo the snooze and get out of bed when the alarm rings.
- Leaving Your Bed Unmade. I recently read a Hubspot article where Navy Seal William H. McCraven told a crowd, “If you want to change the world, start by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task will have turned into many tasks completed.”
- Starting Your Day With Easy Tasks. Your most productive time of the day is your first 3 hours. Sometimes that big project or task seems overwhelming to tackle in the morning, but putting it off until later in the day can lend to you either running out of time to do it or being too tired to do a good job. Utilizing the first 3 hours of your day to get the big things out of the way will also clear your mind knowing it’s done and help you concentrate on the rest of your day.
- Impulsively Scouring the Internet. Almost everyone has internet access at work. It’s easy to get side tracked online and soon you’re getting sucked into Facebook or shopping for that birthday gift you still need to buy. Try making a list of the “extra” online things you need to do that you can revisit on your lunch or in the evening.
- Multitasking. Multitasking is one of the leading causes of burnout for most people. Although we like to think we can multitask effectively, there’s scientific proof that we can’t. When a person is multitasking they experience a 40% decline in productivity and your IQ can suffer a 10 point drop which is equivalent to missing an entire night’s sleep. It’s time to take off the cape and ask for help.
- Checking Email Too Often. We all fall into the “endless email” trap. Checking emails can turn into as much of a time-suck as scrolling through Facebook. Try setting certain times of the day aside to check emails. If there’s something pressing you’re waiting for, use a 3-point system: before work, at lunch and 4 o’clock. Unless there’s something time-sensitive you’re waiting on, the emails will still be there regardless of how often you check them.
- Being Disorganized. Being disorganized is a sure-fire way to decrease your productivity. If you’re spending more time looking for things instead of doing things, you’re not spending your time wisely. This is a perfect scenario for being “busy” instead of “productive”.
- Accepting Too Many Meeting Requests. Before you take up your time and that of others, make sure the meeting is not only necessary, but that it’s planned out ahead of time to be short and to the point. Meetings add a disruption to our day and workflow and makes it hard to get back on track.
- Failing To Prioritize. When you have a busy day it’s easy to have your priorities fall out of order. Instead of writing down 15 things to do in a day, break those up into smaller, more manageable blocks and assign them to different days throughout the week.
- Over Planning. Being ambitious and organized is great until the day slowly unravels and your plans are being pushed out later and later. Instead of planning every detail of your day, try planning for 5-6 hours of an 8 hour day to allow for flexibility.
- Under Planning. Just the opposite of over planning, under planning will have a similar unraveling affect. If you fail to have some type of plan in place, you end up wandering aimlessly into your day not quite sure where to start and what your end game should be.
- Taking Your Electronics to Bed With You. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “A key factor in regulating sleep and your biological clock is exposure to light or to darkness, so falling asleep with lights on may not be the best thing for a good night’s sleep . Exposure to light stimulates a nerve pathway from the eye to parts of the brain that control hormones, body temperature and other functions that play a role in making us feel sleepy or wide-awake.” Too much light, right before bedtime may prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep, so keep those LED screens tucked away until the morning.
- Trying To Be Perfect. This is where I have problems and need to remind myself regularly that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. It takes too much time and energy away from completing a task or project, and in the end makes us less efficient and less effective. You need to draw a line and decide when it’s time to call it complete and move on.
It’s difficult to try and break all bad habits at once; make a list and prioritize which ones you want to work on first and see how much more productive your day can be.
Laura is the founder of Elite Virtual Assistants. If you’re looking for help in breaking your bad habits and getting some assistance along the way, give her a call today.