Running out of time to complete your task list? It might be due to the habits that clock too much time in your day. The habits that hurt your productivity might surprise you. Here are three habits that waste your time and the ways to beat them.
When tackling a cluttered lifestyle, sometimes it’s not what you need to “get” that will help, it’s what you need to “get rid of.” Here are three common time-wasters – and actions steps that will help you to get them out of your daily routine so that you can enjoy a clutter-free, stress-free life.
Time Waster #1: Answering the phone every time it rings. Next time you rush to answer the phone when it rings, ask yourself this: Why am I answering the phone? Is it because it’s the polite thing to do? Am I expecting a call? Is it an emergency? Or maybe it’s my favorite radio station telling me that I won $1,000?
Whatever the reason, it’s practically second nature to drop everything when the phone rings. This instinct makes the phone one of the most dangerous enemies of productivity.
TAKE ACTION: Try each day to not answer the phone for one hour, then work your way up to more later on. Choose a time when you need to be at your most productive and turn the phone to silent mode. Hide it in a drawer, stick it in your glove box or even have your spouse hide it from you. But no matter what, don’t touch that phone! And see how much you will accomplish once you’ve removed that extra distraction.
Time Waster #2: Waiting for perfection. If you are putting things off until the time is right or conditions are perfect, they will never happen. Perfectionism is paralytic. It’s a powerful venom that causes productivity to die a slow, painful death.
Perfectionism poisons your productivity and makes you think: I’ll do this when I have more money; I’ll do this when the time is right; I’ll do this when I have enough resources; I’ll do this when I’m not so tired or I’ll do this when I lose a few pounds.
When we delay starting a task because we are waiting for the perfect time, the perfect place, or the perfect scenario, we might as well say “I’ll do this when I win the lottery.” With this mindset, your chances of accomplishing that task are just as slim as winning the lotto.
TAKE ACTION: I challenge you to think about a to-do that you’ve been saving for that “perfect” day and start it right now, imperfections and all. Remember, good is good enough!
Time Waster #3: Multi-tasking gone bad. Multi-tasking has become the battle cry of the over-worked, over-stressed and over-committed. In order to survive, we’ve been taught that multi-tasking is always the answer. Not true. The only proper way to multi-task is for those moments when it’s OK to be on auto-pilot – like emptying the dishwasher and watching the news. But for mindful tasks, like listening to your spouse or budgeting finances, you need to give full attention where full attention is due.
The bottom line is that the secret is to live in the present – one of the big benefits you’ll get from organizing your life that I constantly tout.
TAKE ACTION: When you’re working on the computer, shut down everything (yes, Facebook too!) so you can focus on just the task at hand. When you are decluttering your house, decide on a specific area, stay put and stay focused. Don’t leave the room and then decide to fold laundry, then pick up a few things in your kid’s room on the way back. Your time is not being used effectively and all of those projects could have been accomplished much quicker had they been done one at a time, with focus.
Studies have shown that, on average, people are interrupted an average of four times each hour. But here’s the interesting part – they often don’t go back to what they were working on before they were interrupted. So you can see how important it is that we identify the time-wasting habits we’ve absorbed into our lives and start working now on changing that behavior. Take away the distractions and the time-wasting habits little by little and you’ll be amazed at the clarity and productivity you’ll gain in your life.
This article by Carmen Coker originally appeared in the FranklinCovey GO Commmunity on April 25, 2012.