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Kick-start your productivity: Stop these 9 time-wasting habits

Being productive, whether at work or at home, is beneficial for many reasons. It helps you achieve your goals faster, which could lead to promotional opportunities, a higher salary or more free time to do the things you enjoy. The sense of direction and purpose can be great for confidence and self-esteem. The pleasure experienced once those goals have been achieved can be exhilarating.

If you are not being productive, it is time to take a brutally honest look at how you spend your day. What habits are preventing you from being as productive as possible?

1- Answering emails immediately

This is a sure-fire way to be distracted from your goals. Set up an autoresponder, and only check and respond to emails two or three times a day. Spend the earlier hours of the morning planning and focusing on getting your important tasks accomplished. Unless you want insomnia, do not answer emails at least two hours before bed.
2- Looping

This is where you go from one website to another, until you come back to the first site and repeat the same loop all over again. This is textbook procrastination, driven by a desire to avoid the pain associated with the task at hand (for example, boredom or fear of not knowing how to do it properly). Once you recognize why you are avoiding the task, start to think of solutions that will make that task less painful, such as playing music or asking someone for help.

3- Writing long emails
Spending 10-15 minutes filling an email with as much detail as possible is not just a waste of your time but also the recipient’s. People do not have time to read an essay. Either pick up the phone or write an email about five sentences long, focusing on the most crucial elements.

4- Helping people with their work to avoid yours
I actively encourage people to help others in the workplace. It is great for bonding, and for your reputation within the company. However, helping others to avoid your own work is another form of procrastination. Figure out what you are trying to avoid and take the necessary steps to fix it.

5- Not prioritizing
Procrastination and / or low productivity can sometimes be a result of feeling overwhelmed. By writing a to-do list first thing in the morning, then prioritizing your tasks, you can help reduce that feeling of being pulled in all directions. Focus on the important stuff first.

6- Being attached to your phone
Whether it is taking every single call at all times of the day, or using it to check emails, WhatsApp and social media, being attached to your phone not only destroys your productivity but also your relationships. Leave your phone in your office when you take a break or go into a meeting, and disconnect in the evenings and on weekends. Your sanity will depend on it.

7- Not blocking your time
Doing something for as long as it takes is not the best strategy for optimizing productivity. Blocking your time for each task – for example, 20 minutes to write a report or five minutes to reply to emails – is the most effective use of your time. A deadline also helps you stay focused.

8- Going to meetings with no agreed objectives
Pointless meetings that go on for longer than an hour can be the bane of any professional trying to optimize their productivity. See if the problem can be solved by a quick phone call first. If not, ask for the meeting organizer to set clear objectives and send them out in advance so you can prepare and make the best use of the time required, which should be no longer than 30 minutes.

9-Being a control freak
You think nobody else will be able to do the task to your standards, so you either do not delegate, or you do but spend most of your time micromanaging the person you delegated the task to. This perfectionist mentality is unsustainable and will eventually blow up in your face.

Not only will you burn out trying to do everything to an impossible standard, but you will also alienate those around you, either through constant criticism or by not giving them the opportunity to learn. If you want to be productive and happy, delegation is key.

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