There is a well known principle that states that 20% of the effort you put in produces 80% of the results. This applies in all areas of your life, but nowhere more than in work. That’s why it’s crucial that you find out which activities are the most productive and focus on those. However, that can be difficult to do if you’re constantly being interrupted or if you have a series of bad habits which distract you from the task at hand. The following nine strategies are a great way to stop wasting your time and to get the most out of your work day possible.
- Checking Your Email More Than Twice a Day
One study has shown that 32% of users at work reply to their emails within 15 minutes. That means that people are constantly checking their emails, which is bad time wasting habit. If you’re constantly checking your email it’s more difficult to focus on the task at hand and to really get into a flow zone on whatever project you’re working on. Instead of continually refreshing your inbox, create a designated set of two to three times a day when you check your email. You’ll quickly find out that you get more done, and emails sitting in your inbox for a few hours won’t hurt you. Another thing you may want to consider checking only on occasion is Facebook, Twitter, and all other forms of social media.
- Saying Yes to Everything
It can be very tempting to take on more work than you actually have time to do. If your boss asks you to do something, it’s often not easy to say no. However, to maximize your productivity you need to learn how to set boundaries about what kind of work you accept. Don’t waste time on projects that you’re coworkers can handle. Focus on getting one thing done at a time and the quality of your work will improve and you’ll get it done quicker as well.
- Having a Disorganized Work Environment
Disorganization is a habit and it’s one that can be broken. You can develop systems and train yourself to be an organized person. That will help you to save time because you’ll always know where your important papers and documents are, and you won’t forget about any important pieces of work because it’s buried in a pile. Inc.com has created a great article about how to organize your work area for maximum productivity. What works for one person won’t work for another, but you should have your own system in place for your work area.
- Allowing Distractions to Pull You Away from Work
One of the largest problems of working in an office are the constant distractions. These can be a ringing telephone, gossiping coworkers, or people stopping by your desk to chat. Thankfully you can do something about all of these distractions. You can turn the phone off, put in headphones, and let people know that you’re not available to chat. Getting distracted might not seem like a habit but it really is, because you can change the way you look at your work day, and eliminate all of the things that waste your time in order to get the most work done possible.
- Striving for Perfection
Sometimes it might be tempting to keep working on a project until you believe that it’s perfect and can’t be improved upon in any way. Unfortunately that’s usually not the right move. Sometimes it’s best to stop a project at a certain point and move on to something else. Remember, 20% of your effort is going to produce 80% of your results. That means you can get significantly more done if you focus on getting that first 80% done, without struggling to end it and make it perfect.
- Waiting for the Ideal Moment to Do Something
If you wait until the perfect time to make a move, you may end up waiting for years. That’s because there is rarely an opportune time to act. It’s much more effective to act first and let the chips fall where they may. It’s important to be aggressive in business and get as much done as possible. The people who achieve the most aren’t those that wait for the moment to be right, it’s those who grab the bull by the horns and make the moment fit their work.
- Imagining the Worst Case Scenario
The problem with imaging the worst case scenario is that it rarely happens. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but rarely does everything fall completely to pieces. On top of that, by thinking about the worst case scenario you waste a lot of limited psychic energy that could be used far more efficiently for other purposes. Focus on doing the best work that you possibly can and deal with any contingencies as they come up.
- Complaining About Your Coworkers
Not only does this waste time but it’s also something that’s outside of your control. If you’re coworkers really are terrible, then you can quit your job and find someone else to work. However, if you want to stay at your current job and you don’t like who you work with, complaining about them isn’t going to accomplish anything. It’s just going to make you more frustrated, which is not an effective mindset to be in. Instead of complaining about your coworkers, you can look for their positive traits and distance yourself from them if necessary.
It’s better to do one thing amazing then it is to do three things well. That’s the problem with multitasking, you’re more likely to do average work if you’re constantly trying to do two or three things at once. The most effective people who produce the best work focus all of their energy on a single project and see it through to the end. By doing so they guarantee that the project is done right the first time. Instead of multitasking, focus on one thing at a time and don’t start a new project until you’ve finished the previous one.
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