I enjoy all the conveniences of working from home: a flexible schedule, no commute, and the ability to allocate my time based on my needs. However, it can be difficult to keep my personal and professional lives separate. Although I was traveling less, it seemed like I was losing time and working later every night. After evaluating my habits, I decided to make some changes and become more efficient with my time. As I learned, I had many bad behaviors that were affecting my work productivity.
7 Bad Behaviors Affecting Your Work Productivity
Many factors can make you less productive at work. Here are my 7 deadly sins for work productivity.
1. Using Electronics Mobile Devices at Work
My devices are an integral part of my job. However, they are also some of my worst distractions for several reasons.
Surfing the Web
Although I only intend to take a short break, it can quickly turn into hours if I start surfing the web. While it can give my mind a break from the daily grind, it is easy for me to lose track of time browsing new articles, online stores, and clickbait. What was supposed to be a 5-10 minute break soon becomes 30-45 minutes of wasted time.
Scrolling Social Media
I tend to have the same issues on social media that I do when I surf the web. Therefore, it’s best to keep my phone outside my work area. It’s easier to focus on the work I have to do without the temptation of scrolling through updates.
Unfortunately, I can’t work in silence. So, I like having noise when I’m working from home alone. The TV provides great background noise, but if there is something that catches my interest, I quickly lose concentration. Instead, I listen to instrumental music to match my mood.
Although I always complained about them before, I now follow the same restrictions for the use of personal devices that corporations put on their employees. And if I do check my devices during breaks, I set timers so I don’t go down a digital rabbit hole.
2. Having Personal Conversations on the Clock
When I am working, I do my best to minimize personal calls. I have vastly improved this bad behavior, but I’ve also noticed similar things in my professional relationships that steal time.
I enjoy getting to know the people I work with, but there is a lot of wasted time with personal conversations on the clock. Don’t get me wrong, I still spend a few minutes catching up at the beginning of a call. But, we don’t let it dominate the conversation.
To help curb this habit, I have found ways to designate time for personal conversations outside business hours. I also make sure to turn off alerts, put the phone on silent, and set an auto-response when I’m working on an assignment. And although life will still throw surprises at you, my friends and family only contact me during the day for urgent matters.
I have always been a skilled multitasker with mundane things like household chores and exercise. But unfortunately, I was never as successful when doing it with work tasks.
If I try to do too many things at once, it can quickly become overwhelming. And, the quality of my work will suffer from it. Therefore, I prioritize tasks and give my full attention to work projects to ensure I’m producing better-quality content, free from distraction.
4. Doing Household Chores During Business Hours
When you work from home, it is very tempting to tackle the household chores between tasks or during breaks. Even today, I threw in a few loads of laundry and cleaned the kitchen between calls. While it took me less than an hour, the problem is the domino effect it creates. Once I complete one chore, I realize how many others I still have to do.
If I try to do more, I tend to switch modes from professional tasks to household activities. Then, it takes longer to remember where I left off. So, I designate time before work and during breaks to get small things done. I’ve also discovered that dispersing them throughout the week provides a better balance of responsibilities.
5. Not Taking Breaks
When I’m absorbed in a project, I easily lose track of time. Without realizing it, several hours may pass before I look at the clock.
Many people think this “workaholic” mentality is good for productivity. However, studies indicate that this is one of the bad behaviors affecting your work productivity. Sometimes, it even causes me to miss meals. So, I find it best to take breaks every 60-90 minutes to avoid fatigue and help me stay sharp throughout the day.
After years of practice, I have become a master procrastinator. In the past, I’ve tried to justify it by saying that I work well under pressure. But in reality, I’m just adding more stress to my life.
Deadlines don’t change, but my approach has. Rather than trying to get everything done at once, I tackle large projects in stages to avoid racing to finish on time. Better planning has helped me to more efficiently manage my time and workload.
7. Not Keeping an Organized Workspace
Life gets messy, and unfortunately, so do I. When I get home, I often drop things as soon as I walk through the door. As you might expect, I do the same with my workspaces.
It can be time-consuming to clean up after myself. But, I’ve also learned that it costs me even more time when I’m not organized. It’s easy to lose important information, and then you have to spend more time looking for it.
In an attempt to break the bad habits affecting my work productivity, I spend Friday afternoons cleaning up my space. Sometimes this means going through old notes and to-do lists. And others, it is cleaning up my inbox and organizing my files. The weekly review also ensures I don’t miss anything important throughout the week.
Self-reflection can be difficult, especially when dealing with negative behaviors. However, it also offers new opportunities for growth. By identifying the bad behaviors affecting my work productivity, I have found ways to become better at my job and more efficient with my time.
What bad behaviors are wasting your time or holding you back? Share with us in the comment below.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.