Your to-do list is a mile long, everything is labeled high priority, and the expectations are high. Time robbers. They steal from you each and every day, leaving you overwhelmed, frustrated, and spinning your wheels. And guess what? You may be the culprit. That’s right, what derails you most is oftentimes self-imposed. Take a look at this lineup. How many do you recognize—and how can you stop the crime against productivity?
Putting things off leads to costly mistakes, poor results, and other issues that require you to spend even more time on the task at hand. Whether you’ve developed a bad habit, you’re dreading the project or you’re afraid of failing, understanding why you procrastinate is the best way to get a jumpstart.
You know you’ve tried it, and some people believe it’s what keeps them on track. But research shows doing more than one thing at a time actually slows you down and reduces the quality of your work. Learn to recognize when you’re trying to tackle more than one thing at a time. Before you know it, you’ll discover you can accomplish more by doing less.
- Doing things more than once.
How often do you begin a task, put it down, and then pick it up again—back at square one? Fits and starts take a huge toll on productivity. That’s why it’s important to assess the urgency, schedule the work, and assign a deadline. You’ll be amazed at what prioritizing your to-do list can do for you.
- An outdated to-do list.
Today’s work environment is dynamic. That means your to-do list is ever-changing too. So make it a regular practice to review your to-do list often. You’re likely to find priorities have shifted, tasks need to be added, and some projects can be eliminated altogether.
Instant messaging. Chitchatting. Unsolicited phone calls. Is your productivity interrupted more often than you’d like to admit? It’s ok, but take control. Unless you must be immediately available, put down the cell phone, turn off your IM alerts, and allow calls to go to voicemail. It can wait.
You rewrite, reorganize, and reformat. And then you do it again. Are you guilty of perfectionism?
Stop, put down the red pen, and think. Does the finished product already achieve expectations? You may just realize that “good enough” really is good enough.
- Inefficient use of technology.
Be honest: How often do you find yourself surfing the Web, posting updates on social media, and responding to email? Take an IT escape. Schedule time to do these activities when it doesn’t impact your productivity. And cut down the noise by unsubscribing to lists and feeds that no longer interest you.
- Meetings, meetings, and more meetings.
Are you being held hostage in the conference room? Meetings are essential to collaboration and getting things done. But they can be a huge waste of time too. Before you respond to the next meeting request, ask the organizer for an agenda. You may find your participation isn’t critical. And if you’re the one leading the meeting, be mindful to stay on track and be respectful of others’ time.
You can’t turn a 24-hour day into a 28-hour day. But you can create more time by reducing or eliminating time robbers, whether the culprit is procrastination, multi-tasking, distraction, or perfection. Maybe you’ll even find the free time to try that great new restaurant, pick up a new read…or get some sleep.