The One Habit That’s Bad For Your Productivity
Updated: Sep 13
I’m sure most of us are guilty of procrastinating in some form or the other in the past month or week. You just don’t feel like doing that one thing and secretly wished it would just magically disappear. We’re kinda hard-wired to choose the path of least resistance and hence try to shove the more important and bigger tasks under the rug.
Procrastination is the act of putting off your tasks or postponing action on something that needs to get done. There are a number of reasons why we procrastinate. Let’s say you’ve created a to-do list for your day and you’re ready to get started on the tasks. You try to complete as many on the list, however, there’s always that one thing that you say you’ll do but end up postponing until you can’t anymore.
To be honest, ticking off tasks on a list is quite satisfying. There’s this thing called false productivity, where you feel a sense of accomplishment from completing menial tasks while leaving the important tasks hanging. This is another way of procrastination when you’re doing anything and everything except that one important thing.
Why We Procrastinate?
Procrastination is born out of a number of emotions and reasons like fear of failure, laziness, perfectionism, lack of energy, far-off deadline, and many more. The first step to identifying the source of your procrastination problem is to associate your behavior with one of these factors.
Fear of failure - when you don’t have the confidence to complete a task and you’re scared that you might end up failing.
Perfectionism - when you want to do everything perfectly, so you wait for the perfect time, the perfect place, and the perfect circumstances to align.
Far off deadline - when the deadline for a particular task is not immediate so you wait until the last minute to get started.
Lack of energy - not having the mental or physical energy to complete one’s task.
Laziness - when you don’t do something because you just don’t feel like it.
Instant gratification - when you’d rather do things that give you instant pleasure rather than the ones that will give you long-term benefits.
Motivation - you lack the drive and the discipline to get to work.
Vague goals - not setting specific goals, hence you have no proper direction in life.
Indecisiveness - when you can’t decide where to start and have no plan of action.
Anxiety - when you’re not certain of how things are going to turn out and the uncertainty feels very uneasy.
Ways To Beat Procrastination
Working on eliminating this habit of procrastination can do wonders for your overall productivity and quality of life. Here are a few ways to overcome procrastination.
Set Specific Goals
Sometimes, we tend to set vague goals like ‘Write a book’ or ‘Workout’. While we know what we need to do in our minds, looking at them later doesn’t bring forth a proper action plan that we need to be working on.
So instead, set goals like ‘Write 1000 words everyday’ or ‘Workout for 20 minutes a day’. These are more specific and give us a clearer objective and we are more likely to get it done.
Once you start doing something, it is easier to continue doing it, in contrast to not trying at all. So, with this 2-minute rule, all you have to do is start doing your task and do it for just 2 minutes. The probability that you will continue with your work is higher after that. Getting started is always the hardest part, once you’ve begun, it’s much easier to progress and get in the flow.
Work for Small Amounts of Time
Working for short periods of time and taking regular breaks is much more effective and efficient than cramming long hours without breaks. It is ideal to use the Pomodoro technique where you work for time blocks of 25-minutes and take a 5-minute break.
Track Your Progress
By staying disciplined, you can achieve so much more than you can ever imagine. Staying loyal to your habits and routine may not show you immediate results but will level up your life in the long term. Hence, tracking your process serves as a motivating factor to stay on track with your goals and tasks.
Track it daily or track it every week; whatever serves you best. Reward yourself for reaching milestones and keep going.
All of us have weak spots and getting distracted definitely tops the list. Let’s say, you finally make up your mind to start working. You’re almost ready to get in the zone when your phone’s notification goes off and you’re tempted to check. You convince yourself that it’s only gonna take a minute but end up scrolling for 20 mins.
Let’s be real, all of us have experienced this. Hence, eliminating such distractions will make our minds less scattered. When you don’t have anything to distract you, you get bored. So you might as well do the things that need to get done.
In order to have a smooth workflow, try to sit in a quiet environment and put your phone on DND. By doing so, you’re getting your mind and body ready to get into a state of flow.
Focus on the Bigger Picture
In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, our minds are preoccupied with a number of things we still haven’t done. This puts a huge burden on our shoulders. In this mess, we forget the bigger picture -the real reason why we started doing something in the first place.
Losing sight of the big ‘Why?’ can often affect our intrinsic motivation and discipline to do what we need to do. So, give your work some meaning. Ask yourself - “Why is this important to me?”. Asking the right questions will help you understand what’s stopping you from moving forward. It’s as simple as that.
Productivity Hacks to Get Your Shit Together
Here are some tips that I found helpful whenever I felt like my productivity was taking a dip.
One task at a time. Multi-tasking is not such a good idea.
Take regular, short breaks to avoid burnout.
Analysis paralysis is real. Don’t get stuck in the planning phase. Get to work!
Keep your work environment clean. Cluttered space equals a cluttered mind.
Turn off your phone or put it on silent while working.
Learn to prioritize your tasks and do the hardest one first.
Identify the tasks that need your attention and delegate the not-so-important ones.
Taking breaks actually benefit your productivity. Don’t skip them.
You get to define your success. Don’t compare your progress with others.
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