Three Ways You May be Sabotaging Your Productivity

The 21st century workplace and culture is still a very new environment. Think about this: 30 years ago, offices relied on memos and phone calls to communicate, not email. Almost no-one had a cell phone, and the idea of reaching out to an employee after hours was impractical and unprofessional. Now, we are constantly plugged in and expected to handle workloads that used to take three people to accomplish. Many people struggle to stay efficient and productive. Sometimes, our best intentions and instincts in this area are dead wrong. Here are three common mistakes people make. Understanding and avoiding them will make you a better (and less stressed!) employee.

Attempting to Multitask

First, understand this: it is physically and psychologically to do two things at once. The myth that multitasking is a powerful and effective productivity tool has complicated many a career. The antidote to this habit is compartmentalizing.

Rather than try to type an email while talking on the phone, focus on making the phone call as efficient and short as possible (without being impolite) and then move on to the email. Prioritize organization and have a to-do list.

Being a Slave to Email

Email is an incredible communication tool, but it can very easily be an enemy of productivity. While modern managers in many industries devote the bulk of their days composing and responding to emails, checking them can become an obsession, or even a borderline addiction. This is especially true when it comes to checking email on a smartphone.

So, how can you stay on top of things without constantly refreshing your inbox? First, turn off alerts, both on your computer and phone. Then, designate a certain amount of time at the bottom of each hour (five or ten minutes should do it) to check email. You can choose to respond right away, or flag important emails for later.

Spending More Time Planning Than Doing

While productivity depends on organization, like everything else, it must be accomplished efficiently. If you spend the first half hour of your work day making your to-do list, you’ve already wasted precious time that could have been spent hitting the ground running.

Instead, devote the LAST ten minutes of each day to making a to-do list for the next one. This will take less time because the tasks at hand will still be fresh in your mind, and you’ll be ready to attack the day in the morning.

Don’t get caught up in trying to do everything at once. Distinguish between urgency and importance and use these tools to stay organized and productive!