It’s too often that we feel our lives moving forward as we stumble over every task on our to-do list to keep up. As you try to email a report to your boss, you’re also brainstorming ideas for your next meeting, texting your best friend about her break-up, cooking your week of meals, and attempting to schedule a nap in between this chaos.
To put it honestly, we’ve all experienced these frustrating moments where our responsibilities become overwhelming and our ability to accomplish them seems downright impossible. Although being busy is a natural part of life, our level of productivity determines if we drown under our obligations — or stay on top of them. Read further to see the seven habits that are making you unproductive.
1. Checking your phone
Of course, we had to mention the device that manages your color coded calendar and doubles as an alarm clock that wakes you up (regardless of the number of times you hit snooze). With the benefits of using your phone comes the downfall of always instinctively checking it. From trying to share your morning run in less than 140 characters to tagging your friend in every meme you see, your phone tends to go from a way to stay informed to a way to remain distracted.
Use your phone during controlled breaks
Silence your notifications on apps and texts
Place your phone out of reach when having to focus
Turn your phone off while doing the task at hand
2. Giving yourself too much work
If you’re stressed out over the three freelance projects you’ve committed to, agreeing to another one might not the best idea. And the 6am yoga class you’re planning to attend? That also might not be the greatest option if you hate the idea of waking up before 8am to begin with. Even though you feel the need to to do everything, you aren’t meant to — you’re a human, not a superhero.
Why is it that we tend to put more responsibilities on our plate than we can carry? Maybe it’s our way of proving something to ourselves or our unwillingness to say no — regardless of what the reason is, the reality is that our busy schedules are why we’re stressed and our productivity is what suffers because of this negative feeling.
Check your to-do list before agreeing to take something on
Be realistic in what you can handle
Don’t feel ashamed for turning a task down
Keep in mind that your self-care is most important and that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice it to finish your tasks
3. Not having a set schedule
Behind every successful project is a person who stuck to a plan that helped him or her reach that finish point. The fact that you’re busy is unavoidable, but the feeling of discouragement you have from it is usually because you haven’t thought of a schedule (or weren’t able to follow one). By creating a schedule of what you’ll work on and for how long, you’ll be on the path to taking control of your tasks and finally putting an end to (most of) the long nights you’ve spent trying to finish them.
Create the schedule in one place or device so you can easily pull it up
Schedule your tasks based on priority/due date
Award yourself with something you enjoy after each task is done on schedule
Keep the schedule sensible to what you’re able to finish
Attempt to stick to your plan as best as possible, but don’t panic if you have to make some tweaks every now and then
4. Your meal choices
We know how the routine goes — after starting your day with a yogurt parfait and blueberry smoothie, that burrito bowl with extra guac is all you (and your stomach) are asking for. The perfect side dish to go with this lunch idea? A much-needed nap.
Commence the midday slump, a popular term to describe the aftermath of a somewhat large lunch and the reason for low productivity afterwards. Obviously your meal isn’t always the only culprit for your drowsiness, but it’s one that can be controlled — and conquered.