Tuesday, 16 August 2016 14:37

16 Things You Need To STOP DOING RIGHT NOW!

things not to do to be more productive

When it comes to getting things done, being more productive, and increasing the quality of life for yourself and family, it's often better to create a list of things that you need to stop doing rather than the thing that you need to do.

Psychologically for most people, its easier to make massive changes in life when you can just stop doing something in order to help you get there than to try and get the gumption up to do something you know you should do, but aren't motivated to start.

The thought and strategy behind this is very simple: If you take away everything that you shouldn't do, the only thing left is to do what you should do to begin with, and hence, it's easier to get things done mentally.

This extensive list of things that you should remove from your daily routine shouldn't be incorporated in your life all at once. Start off by just not doing one or two things until they are removed from your habits, then do a couple more. Feel free to add or remove from the list as it pertains to you and your life, and if you have a great tip for others, please leave it in the comments below!

1. Don't pick up your phone first thing when you wake up
This is one of the hardest things for me to do, but I find that if I pick up my phone, I can easily delay myself a good 10 to 20 minutes depending on the email and notifications I get every morning. Often times, I get bad news, more work tasks and other negative information, and this can set your whole day off in a very negative way. Wait until you get to the office and have taken care of the critical tasks before you even touch it.

2. Don't view or respond to emails for the first and last hour or two when arriving at the office.
I find that this can also screw up a perfectly good day. Many times at the corporation I work for, I'll get a whole list of things that "need to be done" via email or worklist only to find out that it's really wasn't important after I stopped what I was doing and finished the "urgent tasks" that were requested. If you go back to email right before you get to go home, you might be stuck doing something after hours (and not get paid for it, perhaps) that wasn't actually needed until the next day or two. Most of the time, if it's really urgent, you'll get a call or someone stopping by your desk. Best to try and filter out what you can so you can focus on what really needs to be done.

3. Don't take too many breaks
Taking breaks is good, but it also can be used to procrastinate. First thing in the morning, I schedule my breaks. Two 5 minute breaks in the AM, then lunch, and two 5 minute breaks in the PM. During these times, it is MY TIME. I do not check corporate email, nor do I answer calls, but on the flip side, unless it is a scheduled break, I don't stop after each task or project "for a breather".

4. Make People Get To The Point
Whether it be in personal life or at the office, people that can't get to the point right away kill your valuable time. There's an art associated with cutting people off that deserves its own blog post about this, but for now, the goal I have set is to get people to actually tell me what it is that they need right away if possible. I don't usually need backstories or long winded explanations of why... just tell me what it is that you need.

5. Bow Out Of As Many Meetings as Possible
Meetings Waste Time (at least they do in my corporation). Most of the time, there are no takeaways or to dos for me. I escape every meeting that I don't need to be a part of, and suggest that you do the same if you're not an essential person there.

6. Prioritize Your To Dos The First Thing In The Morning
Whether that be sitting at your house getting ready, or when you sit down in your cubicle, take 10 minutes to prioritize your work. Focus on only what will give you the most results first.

7. Don't waste time on low-return activities
Many items on my to do list will never get done. One of the best examples is organize the file cabinet. I'll never do this because I know where everything is at right now, and if I organize it, I will spend more time hunting for the things that I could grab without looking previously. There's no benefit to fixing what isn't broke.

8. If the Phone rings, don't pick it up
I don't care whether it's my wife or the boss. When I'm working, I don't answer the phone. My boss has queried me on this, and guess what? He was actually happy to hear that I am so focused on working that I don't take calls in the middle of projects. He did ask how to contact me, and weirdly enough, I called the shots and told him to send an email and I'd check that and call him back when the task or project was at a good stopping point.

My wife and I do have a system in place in case it's urgent. I have a secondary texting app on my phone, WhatsApp, and she's my only contact. It also buzzes and rings differently, so if if I hear that, I know it needs my attention right away (she takes precedence over working for work's sake).

9. Turn off email and app notifications
The constant buzzing from your cell phone will just tempt you to waste time checking out who just invited you to play candy crush or something. Turn that crap off.

10. Turn off outlook pop ups!!!
Having email pop up every 20 seconds isn't going to help get stuff done. It's going to be a huge distraction (if it isn't already). People can wait a while. Check email only two or three times a day, responding to only the most urgent.

11. Don't Use Work Email For Everything
Seriously... use a personal email address for personal emails, and your corporate email address for 9-5 business. If you wish, use a third email address for your personal business ventures, but don't use your 9-5 email for everything... Most of the time, your corporation can see your emails. Also, it's an excuse to do what? Check more email and waste more time. Just. Don't. Do. It.

12. Get rid of background noise
In most offices, the girls in accounting will be gossiping like... all day long. I have nice, comfortable Shure SE-215 earbuds that isolate sound so that I don't have to listen to the biddies yap all day long. If side conversations are a distraction, put on headphones or earbuds that isolate noise, or just wear earplugs. You don't even have to listen to music. People are less likely to bother you, or will feel a lot more apologetic if they do.

13. Don't do work for your employer on your personal time
I know, I know... easier said than done, right? If you do this, now is the time to start putting it in everyone's ear that you won't be able to do this any more... Here's how: create an "out of office" message scheduled for every weekend that simply says the following:

"Thank you for sending me an email. Since it is the weekend, there may be a delay in checking emails. Rest assured that I will respond if a response is required as soon as possible"

Make sure to set the responder to only go out once per contact per weekend. You don't want to be annoying about it.

If the boss expects you to work during your weekend, they usually will say on Friday, "Do you think you can have that done by Monday?" knowing full well that you'll have to work over the weekend to get it done.

Just reply nonchalantly, "How do I clock my time against my regular work hours?" or "Sure, if you don't mind allowing me to take Tuesday and Wednesday off because I'll actually be working on Saturday and Sunday to get it done for you."

More often than not, they'll backpeddle because you've just called their bluff. Worked for me about 90% of the time... the other 10% I actually did get Tuesday and Wednesday off... and I didn't check email or take business calls either on of those days.

14. Don't Be An Over Achiever
In the corporate world, overachievers are just worked harder. If you get 8 hours of work done in two, they won't let you go home early... they'll expect 24 hours of work done in 8, and you can bet that you'll never see a raise or promotion. They're too happy to let you slave away for your existing pay.

Instead, look for how you can get only what is required of you done, and nothing more. They don't pay you extra to do more anyway.

15. Don't Ask People To Do What You Wouldn't Do Yourself... Unless You Pay Them.
Sure, there's always something we don't want to do, but then again, why would we ask people to do it for us? Sure, it gets you out of doing the work, but if you know this, so will they. If it's something that you REALLY don't want to do, consider hiring a Virtual Assistant for an hour or two to do it for you.

16. When all else fails, Simplify.
When it gets to the point where you just can't take it any more, look at your day, and decide what is the MINIMUM you can do in order to get things done and make it through the day. Either drop the rest or reschedule it for another day when you can actually get to it.