9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making

There are a number of things you’re probably doing every morning that are actually hindering your productivity.

Whether it’s drinking too much coffee or trying to focus on too many tasks at once, we all experience lapses in productivity. Here are 9 tips to get it back on track when working from home or in the office:

Drinking Coffee Between 8 And 10am

According to a study by the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, drinking a coffee to kickstart your day is a bad idea because it interferes with the time when the stress hormone cortisol is peaking in your body, which raises stress levels.

Pro tip: only drink coffee between 10am and noon, or 2pm and 5pm, when your cortisol levels are lowest.

Not Emptying Your Brain Before Starting on Your Tasks

Productivity expert David Allen says that carrying too much information in your head makes you think you are in control, even when you are not.

Pro tip: keep a notebook where you can empty your mind from any loose ideas, concerns, or to-do’s you’ve got for the day ahead.

Checking Your Work Emails First Thing

New York University professor Adam Alter says that it takes you 25 minutes to get into the zone of maximum productivity after checking your emails, so don’t let them affect the time you should be using the organize your day.

Pro tip: keep your email closed for the first 30 minutes of your working day. Switch off email notifications on your phone while you are focusing at work.

Going Straight Into A Meeting

Research shows we’re spending an average of 23 hours a week in meetings, so you need to protect this crucial time of the day rather than spending it in yet another meeting.

Pro tip: block out “meeting free” time at the start of every day in your calendar, accepting only the most unavoidable meetings.

Sitting Down In Your Chair

Studies by Harvard and Columbia Universities have found that standing rather than sitting can help you gain more control and power over your situation.

Pro tip: go for a short walk or use a standing desk for the first 10 minutes of your day.

Working away From Natural Light

A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine said that exposure to light early in the morning is particularly beneficial for your mood, alertness, and metabolism.

Pro tip: if your desk in near a window, open the blinds or curtains each morning to let the light in. If you can’t move your workstation, consider investing in a SAD lamp.

Setting Self-Imposed Deadlines For Your Daily Tasks

A study by the Association for Psychological Science found that you need to share your deadlines with others in order for them to be effective.

Pro tip: try using a tool like any.do or IDoneThis to share your task list, deadlines, and progress with your team on a daily basis.

Opening Up a Web Browser

In a survey by Webtrate, 36% of workers said they lost an hour a day to checking personal emails and social media, so don’t start the day by starting a bad habit.

Pro tip: block your browser for when you start to work. Try Nanny for Google Chrome, LeechBlock for Firefox, StayFocused for Safari, or FocalFilter for Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer.

Starting Several Tasks At Once

A study published in Experimental Economics measured the impacts of multitasking on productivity and found it to be “significantly negative”, with multitaskers performing worse in tasks than those working sequentially.

Pro tip: plan your day ahead for maximum productivity by allocating 40 minute blocks for single tasks with 20 minute blocks in between to work on miscellaneous tasks.

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