5 Bad Habits That Are Killing Your Productivity

exhausted man at desk
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Most people would like to be more productive at the office, but too much work, information overload, and constant connectivity are all standing in the way of actually getting things accomplished. Sixty-one percent of workers said that having too much to do was hurting their productivity, while 23% blamed information overload and 16% blamed tech overload, according to a 2014 report by Cornerstone OnDemand.

External factors, from an overflowing inbox to chatty colleagues, can definitely have a negative effect on productivity. But sometimes our own bad habits are to blame. From idle Internet surfing to social media distractions, when it comes to working efficiently, you may be your own worst enemy. To increase your productivity, kick these five bad habits to the curb.

1. Multitasking

You may think you can multitask effectively. You’re wrong. Trying to work on multiple tasks at the same time can shrink your productivity by up to 40%, Inc. magazine reported.

When you write an email while sitting in a meeting, you’re probably not giving your full attention to either task. You may click “send” without realizing your message contains errors. At the same time, you’re probably missing out on important information in the meeting. No one wins in this situation, least of all you.

2. Chronic lateness

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Everyone runs behind some times, but persistent tardiness – even when you’re not the one showing up late — comes at a big cost. CEOs show up at least 10 minutes late to 80% of their meetings, a 2006 study found, a bad habit that costs business $90 billion a year. Even high-profile execs can’t always get it together to show up on time. In 2014, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was two hours late to a meeting with advertisers, and critics say that it wasn’t an out-of-character misstep.

“It’s a huge drain on productivity when meetings consistently start 10 or 15 minutes behind, and tardiness has a snowball effect as one person’s lateness affects the productivity of his or her colleagues,” Diana DeLonzer, author of Never Be Late Again, 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged, told ABC News.

3. Not getting enough sleep

You may think you can get by on four or five hours of sleep a night, but unless you’re a genetic outlier, you’re probably kidding yourself. A 2015 study of 21,000 British workers found that people who slept less than six hours a night were significantly less productive than those who slept for seven or eight hours, the Financial Times reported.

Some people might equate a lack of shut-eye with a highly productive lifestyle, where there’s so much to do, you can’t squeeze it all into a normal day. But productivity dips the more tired you get.

“The simple reality is that work, both mental and physical, results in fatigue that limits the cognitive and bodily resources people have to put towards their work,” Ken Matos, senior director of research at the Families and Work Institute think tank, told CNBC. “When they are not thinking clearly or moving as quickly or precisely they must work more slowly to maintain quality and safety requirements.”

4. Eating too much junk food

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Hitting the drive-thru or the vending machine for a quick lunch or snack during a busy day may seem more efficient than taking time to eat a healthy meal. But loading up on junk food could sink your productivity. People who ate fruits and vegetables throughout the day felt happier, more creative, and more engaged, according to a paper published in the British Journal of Health Psychology. In contrast, binging on a soda or an ultra-sweet pastry will give you a short burst of energy, followed by a slump.

To stay focused and on-task, Entrepreneur magazine suggests following a “productivity diet.” Foods like eggs, yogurt, blueberries, almonds, and dark leafy greens are all good for getting stuff done.

5. Staying glued to your smartphone

Not being able to put down your iPhone is making it difficult to get things done at work. A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that 52% of workers said cell phones and texting were the biggest threat to productivity in the office.

Even if you think you’re ignoring your phone, it may still be causing you to lose focus. Researchers at Florida State University found that when people heard a notification on their smartphone, their performance on a simple task decreased, even if they didn’t actually pick up their device to respond to the notification. It seems that something as simple as turning off your phone’s push notifications could help you be more productive.

Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS
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