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Eight Tips to Stop Things that Devour Your Time and Energy

By Dr. Geri Markel On 


“I can’t seem to get anything done.”

 “At the end of the day, I feel worn out and unproductive.”        

How often have you felt this way? Although you work hard, you’re not seeing the results you’d like. It‘s not uncommon for people to feel that their time and energy are being literally devoured, causing inefficiency and lost productivity. According to one author, three main culprits—negative people, schedules with no wiggle room, and unnecessary clutter—can trigger such feelings.

Another author urges business leaders to dedicate the time, money, and resources needed to increase the efficiency of their business processes. And it’s also a smart idea to look at any of your own habits that may impact work efficiency.

Whether you are the head of a business or a manager, it’s common to fall into unproductive habits. One such habit may not be too critical, but several habits in concert will yield a cascade of poor results. So what are some habits that inhibit productivity? Among the most common behaviors leading to ineffectiveness at work are over-scheduling, procrastination, and habitual thought patterns like “pie-in-the-sky” bottom-line estimates and an “I-can-do-it-all” attitude.

Here are some tips for overcoming these and other habits that drain your time and energy:

  1. Avoid overly optimistic and unspecific estimates of your bottom line. Visualize the past, and set a range of goals based on facts—not hopes and dreams. The use of a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) can provide a handy framework for discussion and planning.
  2. Avoid doomsday talk and perpetual blame for the past. Once you have the documentation you need about a past problem, stop the endless rehashing of mistakes and misjudgments. That just drains energy and focus away from prevention and proactive thinking.
  3. Set limits for yourself, and stop overusing or abusing your digital devices. When you constantly interrupt yourself, you drain your mental stamina and lose the concentration needed for problem solving and decision making.
  4. Set limits for others, and stop unessential interruptions. It is said that 28 percent of the average day is lost due to interruptions and distractions, such as needless questions or extraneous information sent via text or e-mail.
  5. Stop expecting others to read your mind. Save time by providing clear directions, policies, timelines, strategies, and feedback on new ventures.
  6. Avoid scheduling creative or analytic tasks when you’re fatigued, stressed, or irritated. The tasks will take twice as long but yield half the results.
  7. Stop trying to do everything yourself. You don’t have to prove how great you are by doing it all, all the time. Don’t be afraid to delegate or ask for help.
  8. Allow time for transitions between meetings and conference calls. You need a few minutes to file materials, jot down notes, and schedule follow-up work. For example, when tasks or calls need to be accomplished, don’t just write them on a “to-do” list—schedule the time in your calendar.

Whatever your role, be it executive or newly hired employee, if you feel you’re spinning your wheels, know that you can enhance your performance and productivity. Try one tip at a time, monitor its positive effects, adjust when necessary, and enjoy the feelings of greater efficiency and satisfaction.


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