Time management

10 unproductive work habits to stop right now

- March 16, 2023 4 MIN READ
Man texting on phone at word desk

If you feel like you are constantly busy at work but reach the end of the day with not much to show for it, you may be filling your time with unproductive work habits, writes time management expert Téa Angelos.

A busy day does not mean an effective day at work. A productive day is finding the most efficient and effective way to achieve your desired outcomes.

It is time to recognise and remove the following ten unproductive work habits to take back control of your day.

1. Constantly checking your phone

Nothing exciting is happening on Instagram at 10:30am on Tuesday morning. Constantly having the urge to check your phone throughout the day will impact your productivity and reduce your motivation. Instead, have uninterrupted work periods and take regular breaks to grab a drink of water and check your phone if required.

2. Overloading on information

Information overload can cause you to feel overwhelmed, conflicted and delay you from getting on with the work ahead. Instead, focus on gathering only the information that is critical to making the decision. Learning how to synthesise large amounts of information is a skill, but it is worthwhile to develop.

3. Prioritising work over your health

Your health must always remain your number one priority and all good employers will support this position. Being overloaded at work or stressed with an issue can lead to mental and physical health problems.

Prioritise your health by speaking up to your employer/manager if you need support, take time to adequately rest, and set clear boundaries to encourage your work-life balance.

Dad and son enjoying a stress-free day outdoors

4. Comparing yourself to others

Comparing yourself to others in your workplace and what you see online is harmful to your productivity and motivation. It is unfair to yourself and the work you are doing. Instead, use comparisons to celebrate and be motivated by other people’s success and take learnings that you can apply to your own journey.

5. Always choosing perfection over completion

Be careful to not prioritise perfection over completion. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t complete your work to a high standard, but striving for perfection and setting unrealistic expectations on yourself leads to stress and procrastination. When you worry about doing something perfectly, you often become stuck and struggle to do anything at all.

Instead, focus on completing the crucial elements of a task or project to keep moving forward.

6. Delaying decisions

Decision making is a continual and critical part of your daily work life. Getting caught up in decision making will delay completing that activity and hold up moving on to the next task ahead. Learning how to make faster decisions is an important skill to develop.

Listen to Téa Angelos’ top money and career tips for women on the Flying Solo podcast:

Overworked office worker hiding behind document

7. Prioritising someone else’s needs

Learning to say no respectfully in the workplace is a tool that everyone needs to learn. Instead of saying, “No, I don’t have time”, reframe your answer as a request to re-examine your priorities. Politely explain what you’re currently working on and how long it will take you to complete.

If the request for additional work is coming from your boss, this strategy gives them the opportunity to re-prioritise your work. If it is a colleague, they can understand that you can’t take on any of their work.

8. Always trying to reinvent the wheel

Not all tasks require a ‘never before seen’ solution. Completing a task efficiently is about achieving the desired outcome in the desired period of time. Typically this is done by utilising a tried and true method that you are comfortable will achieve your goal.

9. Working at your least productive times

Don’t fight against your body’s natural energy timeline, work with it. If you are a morning person, plan your intensive work for straight up each morning and allocate less intensive work for the afternoons, and vice versa.

10. Meetings that could have been emails

Before sending that meeting invite, ask yourself:

  • What is the outcome I am trying to achieve?
  • Does everyone have the information they need to make the decisions required and achieve the desired outcome?

If this is clear, there may not be any need for a meeting and the same outcome can be reached with an email instead.

This is an edited extract from Smart Moves: Simple Ways to take Control of your Life (Wiley $32.95) by Téa Angelos, available at all leading retailers and online at www.smartwomensociety.com.


This article was first published on Kochie’s Business Builders, read the original here.

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