5 Negative Habits That Keep Destroying Your Productivity

Dayana Sabatin

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Have you ever just felt like your productivity levels are at an all-time low? And yet, you’re busy with little to no free time?

It’s almost June, and I don’t know how these last few weeks of May have gone by so quickly; I feel unaccomplished, and yet I feel like it’s been one of the busiest months of the year.

From writing to creating Youtube videos to looking for a new place to live to maintaining a clean household to focusing on my health and learning, it’s been a struggle.

I’ve never wished there were two of me, but now I do simply so the other one could get through all the boring and mundane stuff like cleaning and wasting 2+ hours with customer service trying to get a refund.

Customer service reps can be so rude. It’s like they have no soul.

I wrote down all of the things I feel like I do in a day; maybe this will provide me with some clarity as to why I don’t have enough time for anything, I thought to myself.

The list was long, but I did manage to create a system that has been effective the last few days that has guaranteed me a few additional free hours. The problem, I realized was despite being disciplined, I had some negative habits I needed to address.

With that being said, here are five negative habits you might be doing daily (without realizing it) that steal precious time away from you and ultimately destroy your productivity.

You’re working on the first thing that comes to mind — even if it’s non-urgent.

A lot of times, I feel like if I just get the little things out of the way first, then I can devote my full attention to tackling the big and more important things.

For instance, a few days ago, I was charged over $100 for a service I did not want/nor need. That morning, at 6 am, I immediately contacted the service rep, and it turned into a full-blown 2+ hour conversation with no resolution because they refused to help.

While it felt urgent at the moment, I could have waited because I spent my most productive morning hours working on something that could have waited to be fixed later on in the day.

It also completely ruined my mood and took away whatever inspiration I had for the day.

Other days when I don’t have silly people withdrawing random money from my bank account, I often turn to things like cleaning or reading, and while both extremely beneficial, they can be put off.

Make it a priority to start your day by identifying your goals and then the necessary tasks for the day. You can get so much more done if you learn to prioritize and focus on what is most important rather than what is in front of you.

You check your Email/Instagram/YouTube/Twitter/ buy things on Amazon every few minutes.

I know I’m not speaking only to myself when I say you’re sitting in front of your computer typing away getting things done, and suddenly you remember you need to place an Amazon order; otherwise, the world will end.

Alternatively, you’re working away and then stop whatever you’re doing because you need to catch yourself up on what’s going on in the world of social media.

A few months ago, I noticed I woke up every morning to Instagram; I changed that immediately, telling myself that there was no reason for my sleepy eyes to see selfies first thing in the morning.

However, then email became a problem. I’d open up that Gmail app as if someone was literally sitting on the other end waiting and tapping their fingers for a response.

Email is and should only be used as a tool to help your work; it should not be the first thing you wake up to, nor should it be a distraction from the work you’re doing. The same goes for social media. Don’t let them control you and your world.

They’re a means of communication that doesn’t need to be addressed every few minutes of the day. Turn off email alerts and updates. Limit checking your email and social apps to only a few times each day.

I highly recommend only allowing social media on a break or at the end of the day so you can focus on getting things done.

You don’t follow a schedule.

At the start of every week, you know you have x, y and z you need to accomplish, and you keep that in the back of your head as you go throughout your normal day-to-day life.

However, you don’t have a plan. You do things last minute, or you try to do 7+ things on Tuesday when you could spread them out better and give yourself more time.

I get it; not everybody likes to adhere to a schedule or have a planner, but at the end of the day, doesn’t seeing what you need to accomplish daily make life a little bit easier? And if so, why wouldn’t you do that for yourself?

In the month of May, I was pretty disorganized, filming, editing, writing on X day when I could have spread it out throughout the week resulting in a better and much more productive work system, and it truly set me back.

I told myself, you don’t need a schedule; you know what you’re doing, but at the end of the night, I was racing to complete deadlines and things that should have been done first thing in the morning.

As Stephen Covey says,

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

At the start of each day, write down three things you absolutely need to complete. Three things — it’s simple, clean, and to the point. If you get those three things done, then move on to whatever other tasks you have for the week.

You don’t leave your desk.

When I worked in corporate, I had a bad habit of sitting at my desk for 8 hours without leaving. If I don’t leave my post, the time will go by faster, and I’ll get way more done, I told myself.

I would eat lunch at my desk in the hopes of my boss seeing me and thinking, wow, what a hard worker.

This thinking stuck with me when I started working for myself too. Prior to getting a desk, I would sit on the couch for hours — writing, editing, researching, or doing whatever it was that I thought necessary.

I was so strict with myself, thinking that a walk might somehow ruin my productivity and prevent me from becoming successful.

It’s unhealthy and only harming you in the long run. You need to give yourself a break; you need to move your body, give your eyes some relief, do some stretching, go to the gym, get a change of scenery.

Listen to a podcast that inspires you, do something with yourself other than slaving away at your workstation.

In a survey, nearly 90% of North American employees claim that taking lunch breaks helps them feel refreshed and ready to get back to work; it also increases productivity, releases stress, and improves mental well-being.

Take a break. Schedule some solid work hours at the start of the day, and then give yourself some time to get some food in you and some movement.

You’re waiting for the perfect moment.

There are days I wake up on fire and ready to go; those days are seldom. There are also days where I wake up, make my coffee, sit down and ponder life.

I’m waiting for the perfect moment to begin.

You could probably spend the rest of your life waiting for the perfect moment to start your side-hustle, plan out your dream vacation, do that major closet cleanout you told yourself you’d do three years ago.

You probably have several things right now coming to mind that you told yourself you’d do last week, but you never did them. Not because you didn’t have the time, but because it wasn’t the right time, or you didn’t feel like it, or you didn’t think it would turn out the way you wanted.

If the world ended tomorrow, wouldn’t you rather have started writing the book or chased your dream job or bought those tickets to Bali rather than not have done anything at all?

Wouldn’t you rather feel that burst of excitement from trying something you’ve always wanted to do despite uncertainty, rather than go to bed frustrated that you let another day go by without giving it a real go?

Your perfect moment is right now — today. Stop waiting for a better one to come along and instead, start working towards your dreams. The big, small, professional, and personal.

You’ll be proud of yourself for doing it, and your productivity will soar because the slightest bit of progress is the fuel you need to keep going.

These are 5 things you can start working on today to increase your motivation and productivity levels.

I know they sound simple, it’s because they are. We get so caught up in trying to add more things into our lives to be better and feel better but sometimes it’s elimination and addressing our daily habits that work the best in the end.

Try them one by one, or all if you can, and watch how much your mood shifts.

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Freelance writer sharing thoughts on self-improvement, productivity, and success.

Santa Monica, CA

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