24 hours a day is not enough to manage/grow your startup? It is lunchtime and you feel nervous without knowing how four hours have passed, still needing to squeeze a meeting before taking a break to eat something. Time goes by and the afternoon is ending and you feel nothing got done? Have you asked yourself why your day often feels too short for the amount of stuff on your “plate”?
Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing some routines that consume large chunks of the day and don’t allow us to focus. Below you’ll find some bad habits you should change to transform your days from a chaotic jungle into a meaningful journey. Quit these 10 time wasters to become more productive:
1. Not scheduling: Sounds trivial, but scheduling your day in different tasks is one of the more powerful tricks in your daily toolkit! By dividing your day into tasks, you can adopt a proactive attitude and not a responsive/reactive one. Be clear in defining the priority tasks and use time limits for each major task to maximize your efficiency.
2. Social media: It has been proven that most (if not all) of us, get distracted by the constant checking and updating of the different social media platforms. Online commenting and arguing can lead to waste up to 3 hours per day! Start by reducing your exposure by turning off all notifications, and allow yourself allotted and limited slots each day (during lunchtime or when commuting) dedicated to social media updates.
3. Wasteful meetings vs Productive meetings: Everything has a beginning, a development, and an end, why isn’t that with meetings? Start by setting simple rules:
- Every meeting has a starting hour but also an end hour;
- Set an agenda and show up on time to set everything you need;
- Be sure that everyone is clear about the outcome of the meeting and next steps.
4. Checking your email constantly: Yes, emails are probably one of your best work tools, but they can also turn your day into a race against the inbox. Don’t start your day by reaching for the phone and check your emails before you even enter the office. Allow yourself some working space by defining specifics hours to attend to your mail box. It is an important task, but you need to pace it.
5. Writing long emails: Regarding emails, some etiquette is important to maintain good relationships with your coworkers or business partners, but there’s one aspect that can save you time: stop writing long emails. Be polite but straight to the point, as nobody likes to read more than what fits in the size of a phone’s screen (and that’s no more than 10 lines of text…). Do them long and nobody is going to read it, keep them short and easier to reply with a straight, positive, answer.
6. Focus vs Multitasking: Yes, science has proven that you’re not the elastic man. And even if a large skill set is important, the lack of focus on your main task(s) of the day, causes most harm than good to your daily productivity. There are some tricks that I find great: take structured breaks. Use something like the Pomodoro Technique to alternate working for 20 minutes and taking a break for 10 minutes. Knowing that you have a break up ahead can make it easier to focus on the task at hand.
7. Never saying NO: It may happen to you as with happens with many founders I’ve met during the years: finding yourself doing a large number of tasks that just show up in your desk. It may be the case that you’re just having an issue with saying no! Avoid the “Could you do JUST this…”, and discipline yourself to filter those sort of requests that just add up to your day, by just saying that it won’t be possible on your tight schedule. No need to be rude, just honest and straightforward.
8. Being (too) controlling: Team and task management come hand in hand. So just take some time and think if there anything you’re doing that you can delegate or find some coworker to help you? We often do things we don’t necessarily need to out of pure habit or a need for control when, in actuality, someone else could get it done just as well. Organize and delegate some of the routine tasks that you can divide among coworkers and you will gain some space in your schedule.
9. Enabling Alerts and Notifications: Notifications are real productivity killers. Whenever you’re “in the zone,” a single alert or notification can snap you right out of focus. You’ll probably end up wasting a few minutes reading and responding to that email or text, and then it takes a while to get back into what you were doing. Disable alerts and notifications, allow yourself some “offline” time and set specifics hours to attend to emails.
10. Allowing Sites to distract you: This is probably the worst habit you have. An innocent visit to Instagram or some sports page/forum can consume anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes. Just think how long you spend on online shopping or joking on WhatsApp…So what can you do? Block the distractions. If you have no willpower, you can always use these website-blocking tools to keep you on track during work hours. You’d be surprised how much more productive you can be just by temporarily blocking WhatsApp or Slack for 15 minutes.
Plan your day and stick to it! By the way, get so proper sleep and your days will become meaningful and productive.