Productivity and GTD

5 Ways You're Killing Your Productivity and How to Revive It

AUTHOR: Kayla Matthews

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Decision fatigue

It’s Friday afternoon, you’re dying to hit happy hour — but the client presentation for Monday lies incomplete on your desk. Once again, the day got away from you. Now you’re stuck with guilt when it’s time to clock out. Why can’t you get it all done?

If your productivity is lacking, chances are, nasty habits and negative mindsets lurk in your life. Like vampires, they drain your energy and time until you’re left feeling like a stressed-out hollow shell. Kick these attitudes to the curb and take charge of your schedule.

1. You’re Distracted AF

You might think, “I’m only glancing at my phone for a second.” However, what you consider to be a momentary distraction involves a more sophisticated intellectual process. Your mind has to select, process, encode and store the information from this new sensory input, a procedure incompatible with focusing on the task at hand. It’s why multitasking doesn’t work.

To supercharge your productivity, follow the three steps below:

  1. Lock your phone away: If you must have your phone with you at work, lock it in a drawer. The notification icons on the screen create a Pavlovian need to check them, even if you use silent mode.
  2. Close the door: The chatter of colleagues can derail your conversation. If you’re a cubicle dweller, invest in noise-canceling headphones. As a bonus, these double as a visual “do not disturb” sign.
  3. Set a timer: Everyone has a limited attention span, and setting a timer gives you a psychological break. You can challenge yourself to complete as much as possible in the allotted time.

Plus, feel free to have a cup of coffee on occasion. As long as you don’t overdo it, caffeine provides a productivity boost when you’re tired.

2. You’ve Adopted a Closed Mindset

When you meet a challenging project, what’s your first thought? If you’re quick to give up when the going gets tough, you’ve adopted a closed mindset, which sets you up for failure before you even begin. Instead of reacting to a new method of doing something with, “that’s weird,” learn why the innovation is better.

What benefits come along with using it? Continually working through new and challenging tasks brings you one step closer to learning to do them more efficiently.

As a team leader or project manager, it’s essential to learn new concepts and technologies continuously — doing so is the only way to keep up with the job’s ever-changing demands. Product managers can improve their management skills and hone their technical skillsets by going back to school, attending a seminar, or taking a course.

3. You Compare Yourself to Others

If you’re exerting mental energy on keeping up with the Joneses, you’re wasting a valuable resource — your concentration. Comparing yourself with others is a waste of time because, no matter how hard you try, you can’t become somebody else. All you do is create unnecessary stress and anxiety that holds you back from success.

Instead of comparing yourself to how others are doing, challenge yourself to compete against the person you know best — you. Don’t go from zero to running a marathon overnight. Instead, commit to doing a little bit better each day.

4. You Have Decision Fatigue

You make a ton of decisions daily, often without realizing it, and the stress of this mental activity can add up. Think about the last time you had a mentally challenging day, and your significant other asked you what you wanted for dinner. If the prospect of opting for Chinese or pizza left you frazzled, you have decision fatigue.

To keep from feeling overwhelmed and losing productivity, eliminate minor choices whenever possible. Pick out your clothes the night before so that you don’t start the day selecting an outfit. Meal prep to make weekday lunches a snap.

5. You Don’t Take a Break

Working for extended periods without a break leads to stress and exhaustion. You can’t be your productive best when you feel burned out. Breaks increase productivity and creativity, so get up and move throughout your workday. Go out for lunch, too, instead of dining at your desk.

Did you work overtime for a month, pulling in extra hours and forgoing your usual me-time? If so, schedule a hard-earned week off and treat yourself to a vacation. Visit the beach, where you can relax on the sand and dance through the waves. You can also head north if you prefer to hide away in the mountains.

Change These Mindsets to Revive Your Productivity

If your productivity is lagging, give the five tips above a try. You’ll supercharge your performance on the clock and enjoy more satisfaction at the end of the day.

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