At the start of a new year, a new job or a new project, we set clear goals, develop a workable plan and we are motivated, but then what happens? Somewhere along the way, we inevitably get derailed and find ourselves without clear direction, off our plan or distracted by other things that are clamoring for our time and attention.
Here are five pitfalls that can directly impact your productivity. First, be aware of them and then learn how to steer clear of them.
1. Digital Distractions
The number one deterrent to your productivity is the amount of time you spend checking your email and browsing social media or playing games. Turn off all your notifications and alerts and set aside specific periods of time each day for these activities. Better yet, schedule time for these digital distractions as your reward for completing a very important task or project.
We spend 35-50% of our working time in meetings and most of them are a total waste of time. Before blindly accepting meeting invites, think critically about whether attending the meeting is a good use of your time. If you must attend or hold a meeting, make the most of the time by following these guidelines for conducting effective meetings. Also, Patrick Lencioni’s book, Death by Meeting is another great resource.
There’s always that one task that lingers on your to-do list and you will do a million other things instead of tackling it. Consider why you are avoiding it. Is it not that important? Is it too daunting? Or, are you just not motivated? Understanding the importance of why you should do the task will help you find the motivation to attack the task head on. I also find that rewarding myself with something fun once the task is complete is another good motivator.
This is my biggest weakness. When we have too much to do we just keep trying to do it all and sometimes all at once. However, the research and science has proven that it’s technically impossible for us to truly multi-task and the costs of constantly switching between tasks has such an impact that it’s just not worth doing. Instead schedule focused time to work on the most important things you need to get done.
5. Your Phone
Research shows that we are 26% more productive without our smartphones. On average we reach for our phones more than 85 times a day! Stop letting your phones control your time and your habits and start using it to increase your productivity instead of negatively impacting it. When you need to focus, try putting your phone in a drawer or in another room. Just try it and see what happens.
TRY THIS OUT: What are the pitfalls that are impacting your productivity? What are three things you can do to eliminate or avoid those pitfalls. How are you going to hold yourself accountable to steering clear of those pitfalls?
After 25 years in the corporate world, working at Lotus Development, Ernst & Young, The Weather Channel and Play On! Sports, Monisha Longacre has founded her own company, Productivity101 and created priorigami: the art of productivity. Her mission is to provide simple, actionable and easy-to-use tools to help busy adults track, prioritize and complete tasks, to better manage their time and become more productive. Her goal is for priorigami to become the "FitBit" for productivity to help people lead more meaningful lives.