It turns out that you really don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything you wish you could do. Even if there were enough hours, you’d be too tired to finish everything on your to-do list anyway.
But there are ways to get out of a rut and squash bad habits that make you less productive. Avoid these five habits and you’ll go a long way toward getting more done — and, dare we say, feeling more satisfied with your work.
#1. You don’t get enough sleep
It all starts way before you begin your day. Think of the previous evening. You had an opportunity to go to bed on time but you binge-watched the latest streaming TV show on Netflix or fell down a social media rabbit hole on your phone, and fell asleep way too late. Insufficient sleep significantly worsens your performance and productivity at work and costs employers thousands every year. And lack of sleep hurts your mood and health. Figure out what your ideal amount of sleep is each night and aim to catch those Zs so you feel good and can check some stuff off your to-do list.
Figure 1. To nap or not to nap? The Boston Globe makes the case for the refreshing benefits of napping in “How to Nap.”
#2. You hit the snooze button — and trigger a new cycle
It is hard to get out of your warm, comfortable bed in the morning. You are tired and maybe didn’t get enough sleep to begin with. But scientists say if you’re overtired, you have even more reason not to hit the snooze button.
Here’s why: You hit the button and fall back into the beginning of a sleep cycle, which causes you to produce hormones that lead to deep sleep. This stage of sleep is the worst phase to be woken during and will leave you feeling far more tired than you did upon being initially woken. So, stay woke. Don’t hit snooze.
#3. You don’t fuel for performance
Mom always did say to eat your Wheaties. And she was sort of right – breakfast is important. But so is lunch and dinner and snacks in between. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, if you don’t eat enough, you just won’t have enough energy to stay alert.
The best fuel is the healthy stuff: scientists recommend fruits and veggies throughout the day (in fact, researchers say the more fruits and veggies you eat, the more you will feel happy, more engaged, and creative).
#4. You don’t exercise
You knew this one was coming. Here we are to hammer it home again. Research on willpower has shown that exercise is the closest thing we’re going to get to a magic bullet.
If you can develop an exercise habit, a lot of other stuff is much more likely to fall in line. You’ll probably eat better, have more patience, and be more productive at work. So dust off that gym membership and hit the treadmill.
#5. You put off important work
We have good news and bad news. According to Inc.'s "How to Maximize the 2 Most Productive Hours of the Day," the goods news is your most productive hours are the first two hours of your day, after you are fully awake. The bad news is you probably normally spend those hours checking social media, driving to work and doing other mindless stuff.
If you could manage to arrange your day so you tackle your most important tasks first, you’ll find your mind sharper and more ready to take them on. If that’s just not possible, we recommend booking it to work as quickly as possible and putting off standing in line for coffee or checking Instagram until you can log a little time with your highest priority work first.
The old cliché rings true, friends: Work smarter, not harder. Nip those bad habits in the bud and watch your productivity increase.