1. Not making a to-do list
It’s all very well making a mental note that you need to finish this, do that, go there, email this person, comment on that post. For me, if I don’t write it down, it ain’t getting done. I had a conversation the other day with a friend about writing to-do lists, and we both agreed that the best way to ensure a productive day of work is to make your to-do list before you go to bed the night before. That way, you begin the day with your list already compiled, and knowing what needs to be done – without having to spend an hour writing the thing in the first place!
Ok, so I know I wrote a post last week about how procrastinating can be a good thing. But if you have a shedload of work to do, you need to get it done and messing about making sure your pens are all colour co-ordinated and lined up in a neat little row will not help you to tick things off your to-do list!
3. Too many tabs!
I am awful for having numerous tabs open on my browser. I have a terrible habit of keeping my emails, my Facebook, my Tweetdeck, interesting articles and any number of other tabs open. Then, when I’m scratching about for something to write, or I click a link that takes a while to load, my mouse wanders up to the top of my screen, and I “just quickly check my email…” And what do you know, I get sidetracked by junk mail or lolcats on Facebook or whatever else. Closing extra tabs on your browser not only allows it to run faster, it removes the possibility of distraction.
4. Mobile phone
Mobile phones are great, aren’t they? We can use them to call people – but also to update our social media, send text messages, check our bank balances, send Snapchats. The thing is, once you update your social media, someone comments on it – and then your phone dings. And then there’s another ding, and another, and another. And you’re sitting there, trying to write or update your blog or do some fancy work on a spreadsheet… and the temptation to check is just too great. Try switching your phone to silent – or switching off notifications from most of your apps – and see how much more work you can get done.
My email can be a big distraction for me. There was a time when I was operating on a daily basis with over 1000 unread emails – and every day, they went up a little more. I wrote a post earlier this week about inbox zero; there is a lot to be said for having an empty mailbox, not clogged up with newsletters and spam and that email from last week that you left unread so that you would remember to deal with it, but then it got buried by a load of junk. If your inbox is empty – or close to it – you can clearly see when an important mail turns up, and then you can decide whether to deal with it now or put it in a folder for later. Having a clean inbox also means you don’t waste time going back through older emails to see if there’s anything you missed or need to deal with.
6. Not having a deadline
I am one of those people who thrive on a deadline. If I don’t have a deadline, I can put a job off again and again and again. I’ve learned from experience that I need to have a deadline for pretty much everything if I’m going to be at all productive. So what I’ve started doing, is giving myself deadlines. I don’t mean just saying to myself “yes, I’ll get that done by Friday” – I mean, when a client or PR comes to me with a work request, I ask if they have a deadline – and if they don’t give me one, I give them one. “Great, I’ll have that to you by Friday.” They might not need it by Friday – but I’ve told them they’ll have it, and I know I will make myself look bad by not meeting a deadline – even if it’s one I set myself. This allows me to be more productive and ensure I get everything done.
7. Too much working on productivity
Have you seen that episode of Red Dwarf where Rimmer is to sit an exam, but spends all of his revision time drawing up a revision timetable? If you’ve not seen it, go find it; it’s really quite funny. Any way, my point is this: it is easy to spend so much time reading about productivity, writing to-do lists, planning and preparing… that you become really unproductive. So stop reading this, and go do some work!