Do you know anyone who’s effective 100% of their time? Anyone who doesn’t waste time on mobile apps, small talk, and pointless TV shows? No one is productive to the extent of “work is all I ever do.” If there’s such a man, there’s something wrong with him.
That being said, the question is: should we just make peace with our procrastination-prone personality? Should we just go with the flow?
Everyone must make an effort to become as productive as possible. Better productivity means better earnings, but more free time as well. More money and more time? That can mean only one thing: better lifestyle.
Let me share my personal example: I managed to increase my productivity by 40% by taking specific steps. How on Earth did I measure that?
Well, the most time-consuming activity of my day (work), used to take me 8 hours. By killing the time-wasting activities that prevented me from completing more work in less time, it takes me less than 5 hours to complete the same volume of work. So I’m still making the same amount of money per day, but I work 40% less when measured in time.
How did I achieve that goal? Easy: I killed 5 time-consuming activities that were ruining my productive potential.
1. Kill the Social Media
Let me share a pretty awesome tool that lets you determine your browsing habits: Webtime Tracker. It’s a Google Chrome extension that works in a pretty simple way: it measures your online activities.
If you thought you were spending only 10 minutes per day on social media, think again! You’re probably spending much more.
Before using Webtime Tracker, I believed that work was my most time-consuming activity throughout the day. That’s true. I was spending most of my time doing work. However, time-consuming is not the same thing as time-wasting. When you combine time-consuming activities with time-wasting activities, you’re on your way to a disaster.
More and more people are getting engaged in a time-wasting activity that can be practiced anywhere, anytime. That’s Facebook, and I was guilty as charged.
Facebook is free, convenient, and fun. It constantly feeds you with information that kills boredom throughout office hours. A survey by Sprout Social revealed something we already assumed: 70% of people check social media while they are at work. 20% say they spend more than an hour on social media, and 10% devote more than two hours on that activity.
The stats are devastating, aren’t they? Maybe you don’t belong in the group of people who are spending too much time on Facebook. However, you can’t be sure until you check.
- Use Webtime Tracker to see how much time you spend on social media.
- When you become conscious of this bad habit, it will be easier for you to eliminate it.
- Start by spending less and less time on Facebook by the day. If you tracked two hours, give yourself one hour for social media today. With time, you’ll gain enough willpower to eliminate the use of social media throughout working hours.
2. Keep the Office Gossip At Bay
Something fishy is going on in the office all the time. You and a close colleague, who you can safely call your friend, are constantly giving each other those looks. Whenever something weird happens between the other workers, you’re gossiping all day long.
This has to stop!
Researchers from the University of Salford found that the practice of gossiping at work lowers the workers’ morale. That means they are less willing to do their job. It was found that the productivity of around a sixth of workers was affected by gossiping.
Hey; I get you. Staying away from all the gossip is hard work. When everyone is talking about something, how can you not be part of it?
It takes a great deal of effort, but it’s possible. Take my tips on eliminating this time-consuming activity:
- Focus on positive, brief talk with your colleagues. Ask them about their day. If they need help with the work, be there for them. Do not talk about people who are not part of the conversation, unless that’s important for the work and it’s not real gossip.
- Don’t share too much information about yourself. That’s how you’ll avoid dealing with gossip about you.
- Stop caring about other people’s romantic endeavors. “Who had sex with who?” is the most common type of gossiping in the office. Rise above it.
When you stop being part of these “office politics,” you’ll be much more focused on what matters: your work.
3. Forget Multitasking
You think you’ll save tons of time if you work on that important email while having a conversation with your boss? You think you can work on that important business report and on the annual feedback simultaneously?
Multitasking is overestimated. Only a small minority of people (2.5% of them, to be exact), are so-called super-taskers. The majority of people fail at multitasking challenges, and there’s a reason why: the brain is not designed to perform multiple tasks at once. It loses its focus, and that can lead to disturbed mental health on the long run. I’m not even kidding; it’s neuroscience.
It’s time to abandon your multitasking efforts and focus on a much more productive activity: monotasking.
Set up a daily schedule, which enables you to cover one task at a time. When you’re working on a particular task, focus on it! Do not allow any distractions to come into the way and try not to think about the remaining tasks on the list. It takes some time and effort to reach that state of focus, but you can do it! You’ll notice you’re getting way more productive as a result.
4. Stop Saying Yes All the Time
Did you know that saying “yes, sure” all the time was the most time-consuming activity on your list? Well, it’s time for some self-awareness.
Take it from a person who used to spend hours on the phone per day because he had to take care of everyone, all the time. Family with financial issues? I’m the one they complain to. Girlfriend needs a ride to the opposite end of the city? “I’m here for you, babe!” The boss has personal problems? Funny enough, he used to talk to me for hours about it. Boss needs someone to do extra work? Guess who he’s thinking of!
Saying yes all the time is distracting you from your regular schedule. It’s literally impossible to stay focused on your work when people are demanding something from you all the time.
Hey; I’m not saying you should isolate yourself in a tiny little bubble, do your work and stop caring about everyone else. I’m just saying that you are your priority and you must allow no one to take that away from you.
When you’re compelled to be involved in more activities and you want to give back, do it! When people’s requests affect your productivity, however, you have to know your limits.
- When someone asks you for a favor and you can’t do it, just say no. It’s as simple as that! Explain that you already have too much work and it’s not possible to help them without affecting yourself in a negative way.
- When your boss gives you an overwhelming workload, don’t accept it. Explain that your current schedule is already busy as it is, and there’s no way for you to take on some more without affecting the quality of the work. They certainly want quality, so they will understand.
5. Organize Your Email Time
According to the information provided by SaneBox, only 38% of the messages in an average inbox are relevant and important. In addition to this fact, you have to keep in mind that emails are a drain of energy. On an average, it takes 64 seconds for someone to recover from such an interruption, regardless of the importance of the message.
The Chrome extension I mentioned at the beginning of this article, Webtime Tracker, will show you how much time you spend typing and replying to emails. For me, it was two hours. The problem was: not all of those emails were essential.
Think about the number of non-essential emails that you can eliminate from your inbox every day. You do not have to respond to every single message if you already clarified things. If a high-school friend is writing an email to catch up, do not answer it during working hours. Leave all personal emails for later. Even better: call those people instead of messaging them. Chances are, the conversation will go on for multiple emails. You’ll save yourself tons of time if you simply talk to them.
If you can delegate part of the work-related emails, do it. If you’re on a leadership position, ask an assistant to filter out the messages, so you’ll eliminate the time you waste on them. Unsubscribe from all email newsletters that you never check. Even if you instantly delete those messages, they are making your inbox messy and they are still draining your energy.
The goal is to invest effort only to the essential messages; everything else is a waste of time.
We’re all guilty of investing more time than necessary in energy-consuming activities. If you identify these habits and you do your best to eliminate them, you’ll notice a significant difference in your productivity levels. Now that’s something worth the effort!