🌼10 Common Habits Highly Productive People Avoid At All Costs

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🌼10 Common Habits Highly Productive People Avoid At All Costs

“Use the weekend to build the life you want instead of trying to escape the life you have.”

Sometimes, the fastest way to improve your productivity isn’t to add more habits to your life, but to eliminate the ones that drain your energy, focus, and mental clarity.

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Read also: How to achieve your 10 year goal in the next 12 months

That’s why in this article, I’ll share ten common productivity-draining habits that highly effective people avoid at all costs.

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Using The Weekend To Escape

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As I recently posted on Twitter; use the weekend to build the life you want instead of trying to escape the life you have.

This doesn’t mean you should never go out with friends, stop playing video games, or quit all the typical weekend fun stuff.

(I wouldn’t look forward to my weekends if I had to give all of that up.)

It mainly comes down to one question:

Do you use the weekend to escape the life you have or do you use it to build the life you want?

When each weekend is filled with activities that move you backward, you’re using the weekend to escape the life you have instead of building the want you want.

For example:

If every weekend you get drunk, it moves your health backward

If every weekend you go shopping or purchase expensive bottles at the club, it moves your finances backward

If every weekend you spend a lot of hours watching Netflix, it moves your mental clarity backward.

Again, I want to emphasize there’s nothing wrong with blowing off steam and having fun. When you’re in control, it’s healthy.

(I go out with friends, watch sports, or play video games too on the weekend.)

Just make sure the weekend isn’t only filled with activities that move your health, finances, productivity, or mental clarity backward.

Spend some time practicing habits that your future self will thank you for:

Review your life/annual goals

Manage your personal finances

Spend quality time with loved ones

Plan the upcoming week in advance

Exercise to fuel your health and energy

Watch a documentary to learn more about the world

Do groceries and get healthy foods for the entire week

Read business/self-development books to improve your skills

Go on a phone-free walk in nature to get new ideas and mental clarity

These habits might only take a few hours of your weekend, but they help you build the life you want instead of merely escaping the life you have.

Lots of Ideas, No Action

Even the most brilliant ideas are worthless without execution.

Anyone can come up with great ideas, but only a few have the focus and discipline to turn them into reality.

Those are the people who make a change in this world.

Instead of getting stuck in an endless loop of ideas, train yourself to execute on them as quickly as possible.

Whenever an exciting new idea pops up, act immediately.

No matter how small the actions are, it’s better than staying stuck in fantasizing about your ideas.

Excessive Phone/Social Media Use

According to TechJury, the average American spends more than 5 hours per day on their smartphone. Social media is responsible for roughly 2.5 hours of smartphone time per day.

Imagine all the productive things you could do with an additional 3–5 hours per day.

Whether it’s reading books, working out, or building a side-hustle, there are a ton of more productive and healthy habits to practice than mindlessly scrolling through our smartphones.

Keep in mind, most social media apps have been purposefully designed to hijack the brain’s dopamine system, which makes them so addicting.

Whenever the brain anticipates a reward (e.g. entertainment, new information, mental stimulation), it releases dopamine to stimulate us to take the necessary actions to obtain that reward.

Social media companies have cleverly hijacked our dopamine system to get us addicted to their platforms.

That’s because you are the product.

The more time you spend scrolling through social media, the more money these companies make with advertising revenue.

That’s why they do anything to hijack as much of your time and attention as possible.

Of course, you don’t have to avoid social media altogether. No need to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Just make sure you are the one using social media instead of social media using you.

Not Taking Time Off

Lots of productivity advice is on how to ‘hustle harder’ and work more.

But sometimes, the most ‘productive’ thing you can do is to rest, recharge, and relax.

Just like professional athletes prioritize rest to physically perform at their peak, we need to prioritize rest to mentally perform at our peak.

The most productive people take more time off than you might think.

This allows them to return to their goals with renewed energy, mental clarity, and creative new perspectives.

If you ever find yourself in a productive rut, don’t power through it. Take some time off instead.

Not Exercising

Studies show physical exercise is one of the most powerful habits to improve brain health and boost cognitive performance.

Exercise increases the production of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). This protein promotes the growth and survival of neurons in the brain, which are crucial for optimal brain performance.

Furthermore, exercise plays a vital role in improving mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells, responsible for generating the energy our bodies need to function optimally.

All in all, skipping exercise leads to a lack of energy and suboptimal cognitive performance, which hurts your ability to get things done.

Avoiding Feedback

Feedback is essential for growth and optimal performance. Receiving feedback might not be easy, but it’s one of the fastest ways to improve.

However, some people might avoid feedback because they fear criticism.

I used to be one of these people, until I understood that feedback (even if it’s harsh) accelerates growth and performance.

In fact, reports show that individuals who often seek feedback (and act on it) tend to be more successful than others.

Starting The Day Without A Plan

Daily planning is the cornerstone of productivity.

Without a clear plan, you’ll be more prone to distractions, impulsive decision-making, and procrastination.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Personally, I practice priority-based scheduling, which means I schedule three high-priority tasks before other tasks or obligations.

This way, my priorities get the time they deserve instead of getting lost in the busyness of day-to-day life.

As Stephen Covey wrote in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Sacrificing Sleep

People often believe they should sacrifice their sleep to be more productive, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

A good night’s sleep is the foundation of a highly productive day.

A study by the Sleep Research Society found that inadequate sleep (less than 7 hours per night) leads to reduced brain functioning, less energy, and lower productivity.

On top of that, a study led by Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program, reported:

“People sleep less with the hopes of being more productive. This study shows that this is not the case — compared to those who regularly got 7 to 8 hours of sleep, those who reported getting 5 to 6 hours experienced 19% more productivity loss, and those who got less than 5 hours of sleep experienced 29% more productivity loss.”

After a good night’s sleep, I’m a lot more energized and get so much more done compared to a bad night’s sleep. The difference in performance is enormous.

To improve your sleep quality, follow these tips:

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day

Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet to create an optimal sleeping environment

Avoid exposure to blue light before bedtime, as blue light disrupts your circadian rhythm and blocks melatonin production (an essential sleep hormone)

Don’t consume caffeine after 3 pm and avoid excessive sugar consumption in the evening

All in all, getting enough sleep is one of the most effective things you can do to prime your brain and body for optimal health and peak performance.

Negative Self-Talk

Highly productive people are conscious of their self-talk because they understand its power.

Your self-talk shape your actions.

Your actions shape your habits.

And your habits shape your life.

Negative self-talk like ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ leads to a downward spiral of insecurity and inaction.

Highly productive people might still have similar doubts as most others, but their self-talk around these doubts is more empowering:

“I can’t do this” → “I don’t know how to do this yet, but I know I have the capacity figure it out.”

“I’m not good enough” → “I’m not good at this yet, but I know I have the capacity to improve and get better.”

How you speak to yourself directly determines how confident and motivated you feel.

Don’t talk yourself down, talk yourself up.

Read also: 7 mini habits that will help you become one percent better every day

Multitasking

Contrary to popular belief, multitasking makes you less productive. As Dr. Sahar Yousef, cognitive neuroscientist at UC Berkeley, writes:

“Multitasking is a myth. In reality, it’s rapidly switching from one task to another, and then back again. And every time you make that switch, you pay a ‘tax’ on both your time and your energy. For that reason, it’s almost always more efficient to monotask: Focus on one thing and move on when you’re done, so you don’t pay unnecessary switching taxes.”

Studies have estimated that the mental switching costs from multitasking can reduce our productivity by 40%.

Where we can efficiently multitask on simple tasks (such as doing laundry while listening to a podcast), the brain simply can’t when it involves cognitively demanding tasks.

All in all, if you want to get more done, stop multitasking and just focus on one task at a time.

Contributed by Jari Roomer

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