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11 Common Work Habits That Might Be Sabotaging Your Productivity And Focus

We live in a world of constant distractions and interruptions. While it’s easy to blame these external factors for our lack of focus, it’s often our own reactions to and bad habits around those distractions that are truly sabotaging us.

In the remote work era, certain productivity-killing habits like multitasking and constantly checking notifications have become even more common as professionals try to juggle work and home life. Below, 11 members of Young Entrepreneur Council shared some practices that may be unintentionally hurting your ability to focus and how to break those bad habits for good.

1. Taking Just One Break A Day

You should not mix work and personal environments. You must have precise spaces and times for each activity. Take short and consistent breaks, as these will help you be more productive and satisfy the curiosity that keeps you from focusing. I firmly believe that it is better to take several short breaks throughout the day than one long break a day. – Kevin Ryan Tao, NeuEve

2. Failing To Map Out A Clear To-Do List

Stay organized and have a clear list of deliverables you need to get done each day. A lot of people have a long to-do list that they never get to because they are unorganized and end up getting overwhelmed by the time-sensitive demands of each day. If you map out your day, weeks and months, you won’t have time to procrastinate or waste time—you’ll be too busy knocking off items on your list. – Nic DeAngelo, Saint Investment Group

3. Leaving Notifications On

We use Slack, and if I have my sound notifications turned off, but still have the quantity notification on, that distracts me. Even when I am in a meeting with someone and I can hear their Slack notification go off, it is distracting. Anything that will draw your attention away needs to be removed when you’re heads down. – Marjorie Adams, Fourlane

4. Opening Too Many Open Tabs

Too many open tabs bleed productivity. The visual reminders can be just that—reminders—but what happens with reminders is that they are also distracting you from doing the work in front of you. Set reminders elsewhere and keep your tabs in check and organized by what you need to get done at that moment for optimum productivity. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic

5. Working Outside Your Optimal Conditions

As a student of design learning, I’ve come to realize that you need to first understand how you focus to learn how best to maintain that focus. Do you work best in long uninterrupted blocks or short spurts? Do you thrive off noise or do you need complete silence? Once you identify your optimal working conditions for deep work, then you can best design a workspace that encourages focus. – Ashley Sharp, Dwell with Dignity

6. Keeping The Company Chat Channel Open

In my experience, keeping your company’s chat channel open while you’re working can lead to plenty of distractions. I suggest enabling a notification so you can see if someone messages you regarding something important. But as a general rule, I like to keep our Slack channel closed unless I’m purposely going there to chat. – John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

7. Multitasking

Believe it or not, multitasking can have a significant impact on your work performance. When most of us focus on two things at once, we rarely do our best work. If you’re interested in a different approach, I suggest time blocking. This technique involves planning to do one task at a time for a predetermined time. I’ve found that this strategy boosts my productivity and helps me stay focused. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC

8. Constantly Checking Email

One of the habits people need to learn to drop to be more efficient and effective at their job is constantly checking email. Email can be a huge time suck and can take you away from the important tasks at hand. Schedule time in your day to check emails and reorganize responsibilities for the remainder of the day. Do not be a slave to your email. – Zane Stevens, Protea Financial

9. Working From The Bed Or Couch

Today, remote work is prevalent, and we’re often working on our couches or even while in bed. While this may seem comfortable, it’s likely reducing your ability to focus. Most people need to create a stable or permanent place where they do their work. And then, once you get used to working in that spot, every time you sit there, you immediately get into the “zone” and will find it easier to focus. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

10. Checking Social Media

Social media can be a great platform to connect with like-minded people at scale, but it can also be destructive if not used intentionally. There’s the 15 minutes here and 30 minutes there that steal time that would have been better spent doing productive work. Everyone understands this but overlooks the energy drain social media can cause. It comes from poor curation of content online. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

11. Pushing Aside Quick Tasks

Pushing aside small, quick tasks to work on a bigger project actually leads to less focus. That’s because the list of tiny but fussy jobs will occupy your mind unconsciously and create a vague mental background noise. If you want to be more focused, get rid of petty tasks like doing online grocery shopping or answering simple emails. You’ll be surprised by how much more focused you’ll feel later. – Blair Williams, MemberPress

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