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Common productivity killers and how they can be overcome
Jill Odom | May 18, 2017

man being productive and making a listSome days even when you have the best intentions and the proper attitude, you can fail to get through half of your planned tasks due to certain hindrances.

There are many productivity killers and some of them can be out of your control, such as severe weather throwing off some projects’ schedules, but there are others that you can prevent or overcome.

Procrastinating

Procrastinating is probably one of the top productivity killers out there. You could be unstoppable…if you could just get started. Part of the problem with procrastination is the reluctance to actually get started on the task. This could be as simple as sorting through company bills, and one would hope you don’t put that off for too long, or as daunting as looking into opening a new branch of your business.

Whatever the job is, it’s more likely to be taken care of when you put an actual date or deadline on the matter rather than a nebulous ‘someday.’ You wouldn’t tell a paying customer that you’ll install their fire pit someday, so you shouldn’t run the back-end of your company this way either.

Procrastinating can also increase your level of stress drastically. American philosopher William James said, “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” Once you acknowledge what you need accomplished, don’t set around dreading it, get started and finish it.

Multitasking

This productivity killer disguises itself as appearing extra efficient by trying to do all things at once, but the saying “jack of all trades, master of none” can hold true here. When your focus is scattered on multiple different tasks, you can fail to do even one right. Cognitive studies have shown that when people are distracted by incoming emails and phone calls their IQs can drop similar to someone who is sleep deprived or under the influence of marijuana.

A better route is to prioritize. By taking on your duties one by one by order of importance, you can make sure you’re devoting your full attention to that one project for an allotted amount of time.

Avoid letting interruptions and smaller tasks distract you from the bigger project at hand. If you are creating a new landscape design, don’t be afraid to close your door to let co-workers know you’re busy. And put answering your emails on hold until you reach a suitable stopping point.

Emailing

One of the tasks that procrastinators like to either put off or use to avoid doing their real work, which is often a distraction for multitaskers, is checking the ever-incoming emails.

This feat of modern technology is certainly both a gift and a curse. Answering emails when multitasking will reward the brain with the feel-good hormone dopamine and will fill you with a sense of accomplishment, when really you haven’t even started on your major tasks. It can also make you feel behind as you often spend your mornings responding to all the urgent messages.

A survey of over 600 small business owners, freelancers and professionals conducted by OfficeTime, showed that thirty-three percent of respondents spend one to two hours per day dealing with email, while another twenty-two percent spend more than two hours.

Because email is important, you can’t just cut it out of your life, but there are better ways to manage it. Here are two of the suggested methods of dealing with email. One option is to not check it immediately in the morning, but to go ahead and get started on some essential tasks.

This may cause some anxiety wondering what is piling up in your inbox, so another option is establishing an email checking schedule, where certain times of the day are set aside to managing your email. One suggested schedule is checking when you start work, after lunch and before leaving work at the end of the day.

Surfing the web

If any of your work involves having to use the Internet, you’ve probably caught yourself falling down the rabbit hole of distractions at least once or twice. You may have been looking up nearby rental equipment companies but then a trivial question popped into your head that must be answered. Then 30 minutes later you’ve found a conspiracy theory about how Paul McCartney has been dead for 50 years.

Smartphones only increase the access to this wonderful world wide web so you need to have policies in place that limit you and your crew’s access to irrelevant Internet content. It is easy to find a browser plug-in that blocks sites you know will be too much of a temptation for some. Keep employees in check by having them hold themselves and each other accountable.

An example of a helpful free plug-in is StayFocused in the Google Chrome web store. It allows users to specify an allotted amount of time to their distracting websites and then it blocks access to them during the rest of the day.

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