Productivity isn’t an inherent trait. It’s a collection of learned behaviors. That’s good news since it means anyone can learn how to put a stop to bad habits that harm productivity and replace them with good ones. Read on to find out about five of the worst offenders and how to avoid them.
Not Making Lists
There’s a reason so many successful people use to-do lists. It ensures that important tasks or events don’t get missed and helps to keep people on track. Modern Americans are no longer stuck with antiquated list-making methods like using whiteboards, chalkboards, and paper. They can use a notes app to keep track of vital tasks from anywhere.
There’s a tendency to view spontaneity as a positive thing. While the ability to make changes on the fly can definitely be beneficial, don’t let it escalate into a bad habit. Coming up with and following clear plans is the best way to ensure that everything gets done on-time.
Those who aren’t very good at planning can try breaking their ultimate goals up into more manageable tasks and allotting time to get them done. Make a point of leaving extra time whenever possible and combine this productivity tool with list-making. When the task is completed, mark it off the list and move on.
The ability to multitask in minor ways can help people get more done, but don’t go overboard. Science shows that switching between tasks slows people down. Each time a worker switches to a new task, his or her brain has to readjust, which takes extra time. This is especially true when people are tackling complex projects. Figure out what’s most important and finish the project before moving on to something else.
Failing to Delegate Tasks
American society places a huge emphasis on individualism. Workers are encouraged to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and do everything for themselves. While some independence is a good thing, taking this attitude to its logical end can harm productivity. Taking on too much creates extra stress while asking for help when it’s needed can reduce anxiety and improve interpersonal relationships.
Collaboration and delegating tasks to others help people get more done. If there’s someone else on the team who has specialized skills that will allow that person to complete a task or project more efficiently, reach out. It’s fine to rely on co-workers to help with work tasks and family members or friends to pick up slack with household or personal duties.
Putting off essential tasks until the last minute can cause a lot of problems. It creates unnecessary stress that makes concentrating on other tasks harder and it can lead to missed deadlines. Like most bad habits, the tendency to procrastinate is a learned behavior. That means workers can take concrete steps to change this habit.
Breaking bad habits takes time and dedication. Don’t expect them to change overnight. Start by making one positive change and sticking with it. After a few weeks to a few months, it will feel completely normal to keep lists, follow timelines, and focus on individual tasks. Once workers learn one new positive habit, they can move on to the next one without feeling overwhelmed or creating unnecessary stress in their lives. The results will speak for themselves.