In an increasingly hectic world, many over time have developed habits keeping them from getting things done as their responsibilities grow with every passing day. Unfortunately, as our to-do lists grow, our accomplishments can start to shrink.
If you’re reading this article, chances are that you’ve realized you have a lot on your plate and you’re not achieving the goals you set for yourself. Many people have found themselves in the same predicament, with increasing anxiety over an apparent inability to get sh*t done.
However, there is an easy solution. Getting things done is often a simple matter of breaking old habits and forming new ones. Here are the five most unproductive habits you can break today in order to move forward into a motivated and more productive future.
5. Not Writing Tasks Down
To-do lists are popular for a reason—they work. Not writing down tasks or goals for yourself can make it very difficult to stay organized. This is one of the many mistakes to avoid in goal-setting. Once you put everything in writing, it will also make it easier to consolidate similar tasks and accomplish them all at once.
For example, if over the course of a day you remember at different times that you need to get dog food, pick up your dry cleaning, and drop off some clothes at your local donation center, you might end up making three separate trips. However, if you wrote all of those tasks down, you would realize you can accomplish them in one trip and save yourself time and gas.
4. Not Keeping A Calendar
This is the next habit to break after beginning to write everything down. Keeping a calendar may feel old-fashioned, but one of the biggest enemies to productivity is over-commitment.
The more quickly your days fill up, the less productive you become, even if all the tasks you’re doing are considered important. Keeping a calendar forces you to think about how to block your time so that you can accomplish everything on your to-do list with extra time to relax.
3. Making Goals Too Vague
Let’s try an experiment: what are some things that you need to do around your house? Most people would give answers like “clean the kitchen” or “do laundry”. What many don’t realize is that each of those general statements contain at least three or four other subtasks within them.
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Cleaning the kitchen might mean sweeping, washing the dishes, putting away groceries, cleaning out expired foods, or wiping down countertops and tables. When you don’t get specific with your tasks, you run the risk of missing important responsibilities that quickly pile up.
2. Overloading Our Lists
We’ve talked about the importance of listmaking, but a hidden danger for people who write out to-do lists is that they put too many items on their lists. Many people view to-do lists as a sort of brainstorming session, writing down anything that comes to mind and setting unrealistic expectations about how fast they can accomplish each of these tasks.
One of the best ways to organize your lists is to start with a master list containing every item for the next week or so that you need to accomplish. Then, break that list down into a daily list of priority tasks that you can reasonably accomplish within a day’s time. This leads us to our final bad habit…
1. Not Prioritizing
Not prioritizing is the single most unproductive habit that affects people today. If you don’t prioritize your responsibilities, you can forget about getting anything done. Productivity isn’t just about accomplishing things, it’s about getting the right things done.
Tackling low-priority tasks first, such as checking email routinely or running multiple small errands, wastes valuable time and energy. Prioritizing which jobs need to be done makes the entire day go faster and lets you accomplish far more.