10 Big Mistakes That Kill Productivity (And How To Avoid Them)

There are 10 big mistakes that kill productivity. Here is how to avoid them.

1. Scheduling meetings for the morning. Let everyone use their morning energy for Focus Time to make progress on the most important projects. Schedule meetings for the afternoon—preferably mid­-to-late afternoon—as they require less energy and perhaps won’t run as long. So avoid scheduling meetings in the morning.

2. Doing email during prime time. Don’t waste your peak “power hours” for email at the time when you have the most energy, and perhaps the environment is quieter with fewer interruptions. Check for the urgent, and limit this session to 5 minutes or less. Then leave the rest for later in the day. Use your prime time to do the high priority things that move you forward. And keep the email “dinger” turned off to avoid distractions! Don’t let the email monster eat the heart of your day!

3. Allowing Interruptions: This is one of the biggest frustrations I hear from clients. So how can we avoid interrupting our important work and still take care of the people we need to? Keep agendas for each person you regularly talk with, and jot down notes (perhaps electronically in their contact record so you’ll always have it with you) to discuss when you meet at a designated time. Ask them to do the same for you. Cover topics when you meet, and eliminate (most) interruptions and frustration. Remember, you teach what you allow!

4. Keeping things in your head. Your mind is great for creating and processing ideas, but NOT for storing them! And stop telling yourself that you won’t forget! Get everything out of your mind and onto paper or computer. You’ll feel much more relaxed and in control. 3 x 5 cards are handy & inexpensive when you are away from the keyboard (out to dinner, perhaps). Use your phone’s voice memo when you are driving or walking. You will free your mind for bigger and better ideas, and prevent things “falling through the cracks.” Don’t keep things in your head. Free it up for better things!

5. “Getting around to” projects. That rarely happens. Schedule time to work on one part of the project on a regular basis during your “prime time” each day or each week. You’ll procrastinate less, since you don’t have to “do it all” at once, and it will seem like a much easier task. You’ll also benefit from time to reflect and you will often gain perspective and new insights between sessions. So schedule your success!

6. Not having systems and places for things. According to many studies, the average executive wastes nearly an hour a day–which adds up to six weeks every year–just looking for lost information. Wouldn’t you rather have that time for better things!?! Organization and Systems can give you the time and mental clarity you need to achieve your important goals. That’s one of the things I love to do, and I’ll include some ideas in future posts. Or contact me at EffectiveDay.com.

7. Not building in downtime. We all need time to relax and let go of the problems of the day. We come back refreshed and with greater perspective that can make progress easier. Who says you have to “stay connected” 24/7? Your quality of life (and relationships!) will improve dramatically with daily and weekly downtime, and vacations, too. Give yourself the gift of downtime. It more than pays for itself.

8. Trying to do everything. Remember the 80­/20 principle, and focus on the 20% of things that give you 80% of your most important results. (You can get more information on that in last week’s blog and podcast.) Take good care of the vital few things that give you big results, and eliminate or delegate anything that doesn’t align with your goals. We can’t do everything! Reality check!

9. Being a perfectionist. That’s a mindset that is focused excessively on minutiae, and where nothing is ever good enough. It’s often fear-based, trying to avoid any criticism. Instead, embrace excellence, which focuses on what’s important and getting results. Think “Direction, not perfection!” and “Done is better than perfect!”

10. Being impatient with yourself and others. Be patient with the learning process, focus on progress, and help it expand. Being impatient with others compounds problems and increases the time it takes to resolve them. As Stephen Covey has said, “With people, slow is fast and fast is slow.” Don’t we all know the feeling of being rushed or brushed off by someone in a hurry? It doesn’t help! Take a deep breath, Listen more to others and your inner voice which contains the instincts that guide you to the best answers and approach.

The “10 Big Mistakes that Kill Productivity“ are all things that you can control. You now have the awareness to avoid them and you have the power to make significant and lasting changes that impact your productivity and your life!

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