5 habits you think harm productivity, but actually don’t

Things aren’t all that black and white when it comes to working efficiently and effectively.
By Satyaki Sarkar

1. Waking up late
It is universally believed that waking up early in the morning is a great habit to inculcate if you want to be productive. But the reality is that waking up every day at 5 am to finish a host of tasks might mean you’re depriving yourself of some much-needed sleep. So you’re likely to be tired, drowsy, and as a result unproductive for the rest of the morning. Arianna Huffington addresses this common misconception in her popular TED Talk ‘How to succeed? Get more sleep’. Also, some people are more energised and focused at night. If you’re one of them, why force yourself to sleep early when your energy, focus, and creativity levels were at their peak? It will mess up your body’s clock and create health problems in the future. So create a routine that plays to your strengths and is best suited for you.

2. Spending less time at the office
Staying longer hours in the office isn’t always a sign of productivity. It could actually be a sign of inefficiency, that the person is unable to finish work in the allotted hours. It’s a myth that productivity can be gauged by the number of hours people clock in at work. It stems from an out-dated and ineffective measure of an employee’s contribution and dedication to work. So don’t judge your employees by the number of hours they put in, but rather the quality of their work. Encourage them to finish work quickly and efficiently so that they’re left with free time for themselves, their family and friends. This encourages a better work-life balance that in turn improves productivity.

3. Not checking your inbox every 15 minutes
In the hyper connected world we live in, incessant emails are a reality. Very often people feel like they’d be more in control of the situation/their work if they stay on top of their inbox and deal with an email the moment it comes in. They feel it will stave off a potential problem. But in essence you’re letting your inbox control your behaviour and the amount of work you get done. It’s also a distraction that takes you away from other important work and breaks your concentration. So organising and emptying your inbox every few minutes is not the most productive option. Rather spend that time actually getting a task done.

4. Not completing your to-do list
Not all to-do lists are meant to be completed. In fact, research shows that 40 per cent of the tasks we add are unlikely to get done because we’ve overstretched ourselves. Most of us set pretty ambitious to-do lists. Their benefit lies in the fact that they help you prioritise what needs to be done so that you finish off pressing, time sensitive tasks first, and push the others to the bottom of the list, to be handled once you have adequate breathing space. These lists also serve as a reminder that keeps you on your toes during the day and help create a framework of how to tackle the tasks.

5. Procrastination
Procrastination is a reality we all work with, whether we like to admit it or not. And in most cases it can severely impact your productivity. But if you indulge in ‘structured procrastination’ like Stanford professor John Perry suggests, then you’re turning this negative into a positive. Structured procrastination is when you use the time spent procrastinating to do other constructive tasks. That means that you’re putting off a task but doing another necessary one. So even though you’re procrastinating, you’re actually staying productive! This way you don’t waste time and actually feel better about putting off the other task.

Photograph: Katemangostar/ 

Categories:   Lifestyle, Work Buzz


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