7 Time Sucking Mistakes that Don’t Get You the Results You Want

by | Jan 19, 2015 | Productivity

3pm Sugar Rush Ever feel like there’s 176 things to do in a work day? And, when that’s done you still need time and energy left for your family, friends, and hobbies. Plus, there is always work to be done around the house, right?

It can be really overwhelming. And, if you’re overwhelmed and overworked it’s almost impossible to be influential, impactful and inspiring to those around you!

But there’s good news. You are probably doing a few things that suck up time (and energy) and don’t get you the results you want. Eliminate even one of these time and energy suckers from your day and that feeling of overwhelm can improve dramatically.

  1. Focusing on the easy tasks first

    It’s so easy to sit down at your desk and ease into the day with email, Facebook, and Twitter. You can justify it all you want, telling yourself you’re just waiting for the coffee to kick in, or that you have to see if anything important needs your attention, but the reality is that those are excuses. There are ALWAYS other people who want your attention, but to check your email first thing is to ensure that other people’s agendas get the priority over yours.

    What is most important for YOU to do in your life, career or business to get to the next level? That is what you should be doing first each and every day.

    When you finish work each day, plan tomorrow out so you know what you have to do first to move you forward towards your most important goal. When you sit down to start working, before you do anything else, complete that task or put 60 uninterrupted minutes into working on it before you do anything else.

    If you don’t trust yourself or you can start strong but find yourself wandering mentally mid-task, use an app like anti-social which will block your access to the websites you most commonly get distracted on, and it can also be set up to block your email according to a pre-set schedule. It also acts as a timer so I know when I have been working on something for 60 minutes.

  2. Hiding Behind Your Computer Screen

    Hiding Behind Computer Spending a lot of time on your social media accounts usually has a point of diminishing returns. 15 minutes a few times a day can help you keep up to date, top of mind and build your presence. 4 hours every day saps your energy for a low return.

    The old business saying of “It’s all in who you know” isn’t quite right. It’s actually all in who knows you.

    To maximize your impact and influence, people need to know you. They can become familiar with you through social media, or seeing your picture in a lot of places, but getting face time with people is really important. If you’re an extrovert, you’re probably doing this naturally, but many of us aren’t extroverted, or we just get a little lazy, and need to make an effort to get out to company functions, networking lunches or after hours drinks. It may seem like a time wasting endeavor – especially with so many competing priorities, but one of the basic fundamentals of influence and persuasion is familiarity.

    The first person someone will call when they need help is someone they trust and feel like they know.
    There’s another reason to put in more time face to face – it might be fun! There’s nothing like laughing to boost your energy!

  3. Pretending to Be Someone You’re Not

    My Dad used to work as a stock broker. He was actually pretty good at picking stocks that would make his client money. Unfortunately, the company he worked for didn’t reward him for making his clients money. Their brokers were rewarded for frequent trading because that increased the brokerage fees they earned.

    It’s been over 35 years since my Dad worked in that job and he still looks stressed and disgusted when he talks about being reprimanded for not trading often enough.

    The money was good and the bosses always justified it by saying “your clients are rich and you’re still making them money”. But, my Dad didn’t agree with it and was constantly stressed as a result. He didn’t work there that long before he quit but a lot of people might stay not realizing the massive toll it’s taking on your body, mind and life to be two totally different people in a day.

    If you feel like you have to put on a mask and be someone else at work, then you’re wasting a lot of time and energy AND you’re never going to have the kind of influence and impact you could if you were able to be yourself.

  4. Not Delegating, Ditching or Doing the Things on Your List on a Regular Basis

    Ditch Delegate or DoTake a look at the long list of things you have to do.

    Grab three colours of highlighters.

    First, note the things that are really important for you to do. This might be things like making that doctors appointment for a check up, submitting a proposal for new business, or calling the new leads that have come in from your website. Highlight these in yellow and immediately put them in your schedule to get done today. No excuses. They are important. You need to do them.

    Now, go through your list and identify things that need to get done but could be completed just as well, or better, by someone else.

    Highlight these with blue. On my list this would be things like video editing, cleaning my house, yard work, booking my calls and appointments and handling the book keeping.

    For now, pick the two tasks you really don’t want to do (for me, on that list, it’s yard work and bookkeeping). Now, put it into your calendar to hire someone to do those tasks. If you’re worried about the cost of certain things, my rule of thumb has always been to estimate what I make per hour that I am focused on productive activity. Then I consider what it costs to hire something out. If I make twice as much as it costs me to hire someone else to do a task then I automatically hire it out to free my time so I can make more money and be more productive.

    If I am not good at it or I really dislike it, as is the case with book keeping, I also hire it out. Struggling through tasks that you aren’t suited to do is a huge energy sucking endeavour, and is not worth the price you pay emotionally to suffer through it. Plus, you’ll probably make a lot of mistakes that you end up paying to get fixed later. The other tasks I might leave until next time I do this exercise or I’ll put on my schedule so they get done and I stop thinking about them.

    Finally there are those things on your list that have been there forever or would fall int a category of ‘it would be nice to do’. These would be things like getting a gift for your child’s teacher, learning to speak Spanish, or redecorate the office. If something is important or has to get done, it should fall into the categories above. If not, ditch it. Take it off your list.

    It is taking up energy and attention just by being on your list.

    If it’s something that you will need to do in a few months, take it off the list today, and put it in your calendar for when it is important. Right now it is just taking up precious mental space and energy that you need for the important things.

    When this is done you’ll immediately feel your energy boost. Then, with each task getting done, your energy will grow!

  5. Mid-Afternoon Sugar Rushes

    When the clock struck 3pm I used to head out of the office and grab a little bag of M&M’s from the shop down the street.

    It gave me a little afternoon kick but then by 5pm I would feel exhausted. Plans to meet colleagues, go to the gym or get more work done would slip away as thoughts of vegging on the couch started to win me over.

    This isn’t new but what can you do?

    The best solution I’ve found is a brisk 10-15 minute walk outside. When I get back to my desk I feel refreshed and more alert. And, there’s no crash later.

    The second best solution I’ve found is a very short nap. My office is in my home, so a mid-afternoon nap is pretty feasible. It’s a lot more difficult to do at an office where there isn’t a private place to nap. When I worked in an office, I would sometimes go to my car for a quick rest. Or, if it was nice outside, I would grab a bench outside and just close my eyes.

    When those two things aren’t an option, drinking a large cool glass of water and having a small snack (like banana with peanut butter or greek yogurt with some berries) can also give you a huge energy boost) be a big boost.

    I love a good chocolate fix or sweet treat so I am not saying never reach for a little treat, but I am letting you know there’s a price to pay. You know your body best, but for me, ditching the afternoon sugar rush to get through the day made a massive difference in my energy at night.

  6. Multi-Tasking

    One of my favourite books on getting things done is “Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live” by Tony Schwartz. As he discusses, we don’t need to look any further than the data on what happens when we speak on a cell phone and drive to understand that humans are horrible at multi-tasking.

    He says “talking on a cell phone makes us four times as likely to have an accidentthe same as a driver who has blood alcohol content of .08 percent, which qualifies as intoxicated in most states. The risk is equal for drivers holding their phones to their ears and for those speaking through a hands-free device.”

    In both cases, researchers suggest, the drivers generate mental images of the unseen person at the other end of the line, which conflicts with their capacity for spatial processing.”

    When you need to focus on your driving, it IS difficult to speak on the phone. It has nothing to do with whether your hands are on the wheel or not. I’ve often hung up a handsfree call saying “I really need to focus on where I am going”.What was most interesting to me in the book was not just that we can’t handle two mentally taxing things at a time, it was the price of switching back and forth. You are wasting a substantial amount of time and energy switching back and forth from tasks instead of just focusing on one until completion. It takes you quite a bit of time to get back into it … so every time you switch you are losing that time.

    After reading this book I changed how I manage my schedule so that I time block most of my day. At different times in the day I will have focus time for a specific task, meetings, time for phone calls and time for emails. As much as possible I avoid switching mid-article edit to email checking and back to an article. I focus until it’s done or my allotted time for the task is up. Try it for a week … you’ll find that you’re getting a lot more done in less time (so maybe you can finally leave the office on time!).

  7. Not Exercising

    What you look like matters a lot. It’s not fair. We don’t want to believe it’s true. It just is the way it is. Study after study shows that even babies will have a preference towards beautiful people.

    If you want to be able to have a positive impact on others you need to do what you can to be as physically appealing as possible to have the best first impression on those around you.

    It’s bigger than that though.

    Tim Puetz, who did a PHD at UGA, completed a randomized study of 6,807 subjects. He found that nearly every group studied – from healthy adults to cancer patients to those with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease – benefited from exercise.

    “He acknowledges that it may seem counterintuitive that expending energy through exercise would increase feelings of energy and reduce fatigue, but he points out that previous studies have shown marked increases in the levels of energy-promoting and mood-enhancing neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin in the brains of animals that are placed in regular exercise conditions.”

    Bottom line – exercise makes you look better and feel better. Now, what you do for exercise is up to you, but get moving. It matters not just for your health, your appearance but also for your energy!

    [Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061101151005.htm]

Life can pile a lot of things on your plate. Everyone has expectations of you. The best thing you can do is take responsibility for the things you can control and do what you can to have lots of energy and enthusiasm to finish your day strong and have something left for your family and friends.

Brian Tracy’s book, Maximum Achievement, says that the best way to handle complaining friend and family (and I think your own mental chatter) about everything that is challenging and frustrating you in your life is to say “You’re responsible. What are you going to do about it?”

Well, you have seven things to choose from now. Which one are you going to try first?

Image Credit:
© Gstockstudio1 | Dreamstime.comWishing Chocolate Was A Fruit. Photo
© Vladimirfloyd | Dreamstime.comPeeping Fun Photo
© Delfioiene | Dreamstime.comTo Do List Photo


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