Often it is not the things that we don’t do that hinder our productivity, but rather the things that we do. There are productivity pitfalls in which we might be trapped without realizing it. Recognize and avoid them before they drain too much of your time and energy. Here are ten; do you have any of them in your life?
1. Doing the most pleasant tasks first
It is natural to do the most pleasant tasks first. If possible, many people postpone the unpleasant tasks until the last minute, hoping that something would happen that make it no longer necessary to do them. But, almost always, the tasks will still be there. And often the unpleasant tasks are the tasks that will give you the greatest reward. Doing the pleasant tasks will only give you an illusion of productivity while actually accomplishing nothing.
2. Having no deadline
Parkinson’s law states that “”work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. So, if you have no deadline, it may mean that the job would never get done. Even if it is done, it would take way too much time than it should. The power of now is a powerful force to boost your productivity.
3. Being very responsive
Your email notification is always on, and you try to reply your emails as soon as possible. It’s good, isn’t it? Well, maybe no, especially if it distracts you from accomplishing something important. It takes at least 15 minutes to get into “the zone” and whenever you are interrupted you need another 15 minutes to get back in. Multiply that with ten or so interruptions you get in a day, and you see a significant waste of time.
4. Using no paper
Some people say that paper has no place in the digital era. But there are things that a simple tool like paper can do better than its digital counterparts. Using no paper means that you are not using one of the best productivity tools available in the world.
5. Using mouse whenever possible
When you use a computer, nearly everything can be done using the mouse. And many people feel it more convenient to do things with a mouse. But often this is not the best way to do things. You can do things much faster if you use keyboard shortcuts. Instead of using mouse whenever possible, use keyboard shortcuts whenever possible. Learning keyboard shortcuts is perhaps the best time investment if you work with computers.
6. Having “yes” as your default answer
Having “yes” as your default answer to coming requests will leave you with a lot of inessential things to do. You should do only a few things, the things you are very good at. Think carefully before saying yes to a request and don’t hesitate to say no.
7. Using Internet Explorer
Okay, Internet Explorer is a good browser, especially if you use it only to open web sites. But unfortunately, using it means that you will miss a ton of things you can do with Firefox through its free extensions. Once you feel the productivity boost of using Firefox with the right extensions, I don’t think you can imagine switching to IE.
8. Visiting YouTube / Digg / Flickr without restrictions
Visiting the likes of YouTube, Digg, and Flickr without restrictions may take you right to the end of the day with nothing accomplished. They are among the biggest online timewasters in existence. So arm yourself with some tools or simply discipline yourself.
9. Reading books cover-to-cover
Reading books cover-to-cover consumes a lot of time, and even then you might not get what you need. More often than not, you will just get lost in the sea of details. So read books in smart way. Set a clear purpose before you read, learn the structure of the book, and go directly to the parts that meet your needs.
10. Always improving your productivity system
Some people are too busy improving their productivity system that they have no time to actually get things done. They keep testing new tools and tweaking their system. But the productivity system is there to help you get things done. It should help you and not the other way around. Accomplishing a lot of things with less-than-optimal system is much better than having an optimal system but accomplishing nothing.
Photo by powerbooktrance