We’ve been on a bit of a serious kick here on the FullContact blog lately, discussing CRM, deep technology topics, and (of course) products to make your life easier. But today we’re going to take a break from that to address some things that you’re doing to yourself that are killing your daily productivity. So without further ado, let’s jump in and start making you more effective. Here are some habits to avoid:
Checking Email from Bed
According to research from IDC, nearly 80 percent of us check our phones before we even get out of bed. No matter what you have planned for your day, when you’re first checking your email, your priorities are likely going to shift.
Do yourself a favor and change this habit. Just try it for a week. Give yourself the first 30 minutes of your day and see how your productivity changes.
It’s no secret that standing desks have gained favor in the office and home worlds alike. But the reasons go far beyond just feeling better when we’re standing up versus sitting down. A study by ReadWrite found that those who used standing desks were up to 10 percent more productive through their day than those who stayed sitting down.
We use standing desks at FullContact and we’ve found similar results. In fact, there’s rumor that our VP of Business Development Ben Deda hasn’t ever used his chair. Which is probably why the rest of us end up stealing it.
(& we can neither confirm nor deny that the monkey mask increases his productivity by a factor of 7.)
Not Micromanaging Your Calendar
OK so I don’t have any scientific study behind this one, but I’m passing it on to you as a matter of personal experience. For months, I kept finding myself falling further and further behind with my repeating tasks. Then I started scheduling time for those tasks on a daily basis. Suddenly, instead of chasing my goals, I was always ahead of the curve.
It’s really easy to lose control of your schedule, especially when you are letting others control your availability. Start by scheduling “fire fighting” time each day, and then take a couple of blocks each day as “meeting times”. Then, when people need to meet with you, you can suggest those pre-planned times instead of having to break up other tasks.
Micromanaging your calendar takes time to do – but it pays off even bigger dividends.
Forced Task Management
One of my previous employers was an absolute fanatic about productivity software. In fact, he was so enamored by the software that he would end up switching systems every couple of months just because something else looked really promising. He’d always ask me if I was interested in trying out the newest, shiniest thing. My answer? “Not a chance“.
Once you’ve found a system that works for you, just use it! Sometimes a crazy combination of tools can be easier for a person than a single solution. Don’t be shoehorned into a system that doesn’t fit you.
There’s a common understanding in product development than you shouldn’t try to force a change in user behavior – yet almost every single task management, CRM or other “productivity” system wants to do exactly that. Crazy town!
We often get caught up in the “do more faster” mentality here at FullContact, and we’re not alone. But doing more faster doesn’t mean doing more at the same time. In fact, studies have shows a loss of up to 40 percent of productivity when we try to multitask. With multiple-monitor setups, notifications and coworkers all pulling for your attention, it’s a wonder that anyone gets anything done!
So here’s a challenge: for a week, try minimizing any application that you’re not presently using. If you’re working on an Excel spreadsheet, close your email and instant messenger. Get rid of all of the distractions that you’re creating for yourself, and you’ll likely find that you get much more accomplished in a shorter amount of time.
It’s worth noting that task switching, however, can often have an inverse effect. By allowing our brains to “shift gears” once in a while, we’re refreshed and can quickly make headway on a task before we need to return to doing what we were working on previously. Like everything, balance is key.
Getting Too Much Exercise
We all know by now that a moderate amount of daily exercise is not only good for the body, but can do wonders for the mind as well. But if you’re overworking yourself, chances are that you’re killing your ability to do your actual job. There have been loads of studies on over-training, up to and including the creation of a dependence on exercise almost identical to a drug addiction.
So the next time that you feel like getting up for that 4am Crossfit session, slow down for a minute there, high speed. 7am is perfectly fine, and by 4pm your body will probably thank you.
Your Freaking Phone
We’ve talked about BYOC (bring your own contacts) and how the practice can help you in business. But BYOD (bring your own device) could also very well be the reason you never get anything done at that office. Between the distracting buzzes and bings – and of course the fact that you’re only a pocket’s-reach away from your friends, family and social networks – the smartphone might be the biggest productivity killer of all time.
If you can, put down that phone (or power it off) for a week while you’re in the office. See the effect that it has. Many people have learned responsible phone methods, but many more just never can seem to put the things down. It’s awfully hard to type when one hand is on the keyboard and the other is checking Secret on your iPhone.
We’re all trying to squeeze just a little bit more time out of each day. It’s tough, but little changes can make a huge difference. What’s been killing your productivity? Drop it in the comments below and maybe you’ll find an answer to make things better.
Image Credit: meyzie via Flickr