7 Common Productivity Mistakes – Avoid These Time Swamps to Be More Productive

Siim Land

This article is about the 7 most common productivity mistakes that take up a ton of your time. Avoid them to be more productive.

Rookie Productivity Mistakes

You’ve probably been in a situation where you’re trying to get things done and be more productive. Everything is set out and in order but you still fail to complete the task or spend way too long time on doing it. What’s the problem? There are energy leaks in your process.

I’m going to share with you the most common productivity mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. You’re Not Sleeping Properly

It doesn’t matter what plans you have or how many things you have in your to-do-list, you still won’t be able to get them done if your brain is just fried.

Concentration and focus require massive amounts of energy as well as willpower. If you feel like shit in the morning, then it’s because you didn’t get enough good quality sleep.

Studies show that even just a few hours of less than optimal sleep leads to the same performance drop off as not having slept for 24 hours.

Sleep is incredibly vital for health and longevity but it’s also crucial for healthy brain development and maintenance. If you stay up all night, then you’re literally burning off your candles in terms of cognitive capacity as well as life span.

But the length of your sleep isn’t nearly as important as the quality of it. That’s why you have to adjust to the circadian rhythm and block out blue light in the evening.

2. Being Clueless

The second productivity mistake is not having a clear goal or knowing what you need to do in the first place.

If you just show up, expecting to do something, then you’re just trying to be busy and not productive. You need to know what you want to accomplish in the first place so that you could then come up with a plan.

Habit 2 of the 7 habits of highly effective people is Begin With the End in Mind. It means you should first set a goal or a destination before you start wondering off in a random direction. Like the proverb says: “If you don’t have a destination, any road will lead you there.” 

After you have a clear understanding of where you want to get, then you figure out how to get there. This means learning new knowledge, taking action and course correcting yourself constantly.

Never be clueless. Never look like you have no idea what you’re doing – because you don’t – and you’re wasting time on a massive energy leak that can be easily prevented.

3. You’re Distracted

Probably the biggest of these things that leak your focus are distractions. If you have a ton of messages, pop-ups and shiny objects everywhere you look, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Your mind adapts exactly to the conditioning it gets exposed to. Getting distracted, Jedi-like concentration and consistency are all habits – they’re neural patterns inside your brain that are constantly changing.

The problem is that if you don’t have enough willpower to even concentrate on a single thing for any longer than 5-10 minutes, then you won’t get anything done either.

Being productive and getting great results requires you to do Deep Work – prolonged periods of undisturbed and uninterrupted engagement with an activity.

You have to block out all distractions and give your mind the opportunity to even focus. Otherwise, you’re gaming yourself a huge productivity swamp – a rookie mistake.

4. Multi-Tasking

Multi-Tasking is equally as counter-productive as being in a distractive environment.

You think you’re really clever by doing several things at once, are you? Writing e-mail while answering phone calls or having several task windows open. Well, you’re not.

Truth is – you can’t actually multi-task. The brain can’t do it. What you’re really doing is swapping in between several tasks without ever being immersed by any single one of them. The difference is that you get constantly zapped out of your focus and have to reclaim it over and over again, which leads you to spend more time on it.

What you need to do instead is blaze through a single activity deep work style, finish it off completely, then move on to the next one and not allowing yourself to do anything else.

5. Not Taking Time for Recovery

But of course, intense concentration is very taxing to the brain.

The amount of cognitive work you can do depends on your level of conditioning, but you’ll eventually get tired. Not only physical fatigue but also in terms of subconscious drainage.

Most of the time, getting sleepy or starting to procrastinate is an issue of inadequate energy for the brain, which could be fixed with going outside for fresh air, eating something or moving your body.

But your overall creativity and productivity will also bonk sometimes. It’s usually caused by having saturated your cognition and subconscious mind.

Working hard is incredibly important, but recovery is even more so. Like with sleep, you have to take time for rest and relaxation.

I call it strategic procrastination – deliberately distancing yourself from your work so that you could get back at it with newfound vigor and enthusiasm.

The most creative ideas tend to come when you’re under the shower, while walking or when playing.

Like the saying goes: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Don’t be clueless, but don’t be dull either.

6. Not Improving Your Work Flow

That’s why you have to make the most of your deep work sessions as to get the maximum results with the least amount of effort.

To do that you have to improve the way you do your work. They say 80% of success is just showing up. But you don’t want to just show up and see what happens – you’re being clueless again.

  • Beginning with the end in mind is about figuring out the activities where you need to be effective and make sure you’re focusing on the right things.
  • Improving your work flow is about being as efficient with the right things you’re doing – getting the most results with the least effort.

Creating an optimal environment that’s clear of unnecessary distractions and interruptions should be the starting point. But in addition to that, you should also improve your own skills – get better at what you do. If you’re a writer, then get better at writing. If you’re in business, then get better at communication, sales etc.

What you can do despite your vocation is to:

  • Get better equipment – a faster computer, updated programs, better gear
  • Create shortcuts – use the keyboard to figure out what buttons to press to be faster and more efficient
  • Speed up your connections – not just a faster internet connection but if you’re working in a team, then improve the dynamics of your communications and be more efficient with your work assignments.
  • Out source – if someone else can do something better than you and if you’d have to spend a lot of time learning it, then let someone else do it for you.

7. Perfectionism Is a Curse

Even if you do manage to focus and come up with great ideas – these million dollar ideas – then it doesn’t matter if you fail to turn them into reality.

A lot of people suffer from the curse of perfectionism – they wait for the perfect moment to begin working on their goals in the first place, but even when they do take action, they work on their one thing for so long that it never gets completed.

  • You can spend an eternity learning and looking for the right knowledge. “I need to get all the information before I can get started.” – Information overload…
  • You can spend an eternity tweaking your idea and refining it – “I must make sure it doesn’t have any flaws.”
  • You can spend an eternity adding in more stuff to it – “I want to add this feature and that one – it has to be perfect.”
  • You can spend an eternity falling victim to your own voice of self-doubt without ever taking action.

Perfection is unachievable – nothing will ever be perfect.

And your idea most likely isn’t going to be the end of all ideas.

You’d be always better off with taking action and failing miserably instead of strategizing and remaining passive.

So, do take action and don’t let your perfectionism drag you down.

Fix The Common Productivity Mistakes

That’s why I highly encourage you to follow a well-structured morning routine that would put your success on autopilot.

The way you wake up and what you do first thing has a massive impact on the course of the rest of the day.

To not get drowned into an endless sandpit of procrastination, ineffectiveness, and exhaustion, you’d want to have your energy and self-management in place.

Check out my Morning Routine Course on Udemy to learn from how I manage to maintain my high levels of productivity, health, and stress-freeness. I’ll leave a 70% Discount Code here, in Cognito…

The Empowered Morning Routine Course Siim Land
The Empowered Morning Routine Course Siim Land

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