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11 Bad Habits That Are Making You Less Productive

When you look for the definition of a bad habit on Google, here is what you find: “a bad habit is a negative behavior pattern. Common examples include procrastination, fidgeting, overspending, and nail-biting.”

What about the bad habits that are hurting your performance at work? Some of the things we do every day, consciously or unconsciously hurt our productivity.

Here is a list of some bad habits you can proactively banish from your day-to-day routine to improve your productivity at work.

1) The morning rush

Rushing in the morning should not be a routine. When the morning rush becomes a habit, it can have some negative consequences on your well being and your productivity. All that adrenaline your body generates to face the morning rush will cause you to crash later on in the day.

If you can’t make time in the morning to breathe, wake up a little earlier (10 to 30 minutes). Then you can meditate, eat breakfast or read a book to decompress. Meditation can help you stay focused throughout the day.

Want to find more about meditation? This book is basically a no nonsense crash course in Mindfulness.

2) Not eating breakfast

Plenty of people skip breakfast (I know, I am one of them). This is not necessarily good because after sleeping for 5 to 10 hours, you wake up with low blood sugar. That’s one of the reasons why you are cranky and tired in the morning.

Let’s get one thing straight: coffee is not food. The caffeine rush will only hide the symptoms of low blood sugar. It doesn’t take a scientist to realize that coffee in that setup is not going to be the key to being more productive.

So what should you eat to start a productive day? Go for foods that contain vitamins, protein and fiber. Avoid things that are loaded in sugar like donuts, bagels or all the kids cereal.

3) Doing coffee wrong

3) Aiming for easy things

Getting the simple stuff done can make us feel super productive. And oftentimes, our brain will chase that feeling. On top of that, we are more apt at facing harder task first thing in the morning (after a nice shower, breakfast, etc.).

Not sure about all this? Check The Willpower Instinct to find out more on that. It makes for an interesting read.

4) Jumping on your emails

Ever seen the Oatmeal’s take on an Email inbox? It can feel like our email is like a monster. It’s a prodigious productivity vacuum. Stop checking your email constantly. When you do this, you distract yourself from you main task. That will drag your productivity down.
Learn a little more about your email client to keep your emails quiet. Find out how you can create important email notifications and silence the rest. It can help your productivity greatly.

Another good tip to remain productive is to use Tomato Timer. This timer uses the Pomodoro technique to enable you to get more done without distractions.

5) Checking Twitter|Facebook|Instagram, etc.

We all feel the urge to check for social media notification. Sometimes we take distraction to professional levels. No, browsing Instagram is not day job. Stop acting like it is. This type of behavior won’t help you increase your productivity.

So turn off notifications in your browser or phone. It can vary from browser to browser and phone to phone.

6) Using your phone at work

Ever realize you left your phone at home and dreading the prospect of a work day without it? You are not alone. Most of us are reacting the same. However, keeping your phone within reach at work is a major danger to your productivity. A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance found that receiving a text or phone call notification impaired people trying to accomplish a task requiring intense focus. People who received notification of a call (even if they didn’t pick up) were 3X more likely to make mistakes.

This messes with our productivity because our mind is disrupted and it’s not easy to refocus. Here’s a simple way to get around it: put your phone on silent.

7) Getting lost while browsing

Ever get sucked down the rabbit hole while browsing? We mean the “related articles” that take you on a wild ride around the web. This can turn into a psychological addiction that seriously impacts your overall productivity. You can break that habit with the help of some browser extensions like SayFocusd (Google Chrome specific extension). You can also use another extension to measure how much time you spend doing this and it can have a very sobering effect.

8) Working through your lunch break.

Eating at your desk has no real benefit when you think about it. It’s a sad, antisocial habit that undermines your productivity. Research shows taking the midday break can be mentally rejuvenating. Moving away from your desk is helping you be more productive.

9) Accepting every meeting sent your way

Keep your flow and don’t allow it to be disrupted by useless meetings. Here is a sobering piece of information: the average person wastes 31 hours in meetings per month.

Tame the meeting epidemics:

make sure you attend the meetings you need to attend (i.e. the ones where you bring added value).
if you are the one requesting the meeting, send a clear agenda along with your invitation.

10) Multitasking

Productive Octopus

Multitasking is not a thing for most common mortals. It increases mistakes and stress. Well, it is a thing for 2% of the population that’s apparently capable of multitasking effectively. For the other 98%, all it does is cause us to be 40% less productive and make 50% more mistakes than other non-multitaskers.

Remember that bad habit of not listening? People do that a lot during meetings when they try to multitask — whether it’s reading and responding to emails and messages, scrolling through their Twitter feeds, or something else. In fact, 92% of professionalsadmit to multitasking during meetings, and 41% admitted to doing it often or all the time.

Getting out of the habit of multitasking is difficult, but certainly doable. Removing notifications from your work computer (see #5) and putting away your cell phone (see #6) are two great ways to start. Other ideas include establishing a no-laptop rule for meetings, using the Pomodoro Technique (where you work in sprints in a way that complements the body’s natural ultradian rhythm), and planning your day in blocks that include built-in breaks.

11) Playing with your phone|tablet|kindle before bed.

Late night browsing can easily eat up hours of your time and mess with your sleep quality. Spending time on a backlit screen before bed affects the quality of your sleep. The blue LED lighting emitted by the screens on our electronic devices can trick our brains into thinking it’s daytime. This causes us to stay awake longer. The best away would be to install quiet hours on your phone so that no notifications disturb you. Once you have that, stop touching the phone.

Any other bad habits that mess around with your productivity?