3 Bad Habits Sabotaging Your Productivity

Peter Drucker was  consulting for a CEO of a major bank in US. For every meeting the CEO used to assign Peter a time slot of 90 minutes. A highly effective person, the CEO was delivering  consistent results for his bank year-on-year. During the one-and-half hour meeting the CEO refrained from taking any telephone calls and asked his secretary to handle the same which enabled him to pay undivided attention to Peter Drucker. When asked for the reason behind his time management strategy, the CEO replied, “Mr. Drucker, nothing significant happens if I do not devote a minimum of 90 minutes for an important task. However beyond 90 minutes, the grasping power of the mind reduces. Only two people are allowed to call me when I am in a meeting; the first is the President of USA and the second is my wife. The former will not call me and the latter dare not call me. I return all my calls once  the meeting is over.”

Discipline is the most important aspect for executives to attain optimum productivity.

Here are three productivity-killing habits you should avoid:

Impulsive Web Browsing: Since most of us have access to the Internet at work, it’s easy to get side-tracked looking up the answer to a random question that just popped into your head. That’s why Quora user Suresh Rathinam recommends writing down these thoughts or questions on a notepad. This way, you can look up the information you want later, when you’re not trying to get work done.

Suresh, a sales executive was making an important offer for his client. While on google search he gets digressed into social media and loses focus. There are two types of tasks a. What is right for me & b. What is right in-front of me. Quite often the latter takes over the former. Please refer the figure. When you are on facebook, twitter or a joke on Whatsapp (right in front of me) the activity  is going to take away your time in making that important offer or handling an angry customer (right for me). The more there is overlap in these two areas (the common green portion called as focus area) the better it will be for you in working effectively.

Putting off important tasks till later in the day: People often start off their day by completing easy tasks to get themselves rolling and leave their difficult work for later. This is a bad idea and one that frequently leads to the important work not getting done at all. Let us go back to the case of Suresh who has to make a project report which needs a lot of technical understanding and calculations Such a task consumes a lot of intellectual and mental energy. If he does this in the morning when his energy levels are high, he will be able to do justice to his task. However he starts doing the mundane and routine things in the morning (like seeing all the cc/Bcc emails) due to which there is a mismatch between his energy levels and task complexity (refer figure below).

Checking emails throughout the day: Constant Internet access leads people to check email throughout the day. Sadly, each time one does this, you lose several minutes of work time. What’s more, the constant checking of email makes you dumber! Instead, strategy consultant Ron Friedman suggests quitting Outlook, closing email tabs and turning off your phone for 30-minute chunks of ‘deep-dive work’.

In his book, ‘The Four Hour Work Week’, Timothy Ferriss suggests to his readers that he looks at the mail only at 11 AM and then clears them all in a batch. We shall talk a great deal about that in my next update.

Rajan Parulekar – Director, Hospitality Paradigm

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