As you know by now, I’m big on setting 3 overall priorities for my life, and then creating a narrow set of to-do’s each day. I’ve also found that having a list of things “Not-To-Do” can be as effect as having a to-do list for increasing your productivity.
Here are 9 habits most people do that add stress and distraction to your day that you should eliminate. Like your to-do list, identify the top 3 stressors that you personally encounter, and make a plan to stop doing them.
1. Do not agree to meetings without a clear agenda or end time
Meetings have taken over our work life, and our time to get actual work done feels squeezed. When invited to a meeting, ask the organizer why they would like for you to join, and if you’re actually needed. Then, make sure that you have a clear agenda and make sure that it’s followed. Finally, meetings and calls should rarely last more than 30 minutes. If that’s the case, then it was poorly planned or is too expansive
2. Do not drink coffee all day
Coffee can be very polarizing. Some people hate it, and others love it. On the positive side, coffee provides an easy way to ingest caffeine, which quickly absorbs into your bloodstream to provide increased focus. On the downside, that same caffeine can leave you feeling jittery and with a terrible crash. Personally, the acidity of coffee destroyed my stomach lining and was detrimental to my body. That’s why I formulated TeaSquares using natural tea and other superfoods that provide immediate and sustained energy while leaving your body feeling good.
3. Do not answer unplanned calls except for family.
I receive about 8 calls per day from unknown numbers, and a few from people I do know, but don’t have scheduled. Take control over your time, and don’t let other’s dictate your schedule. A quick call can disrupt your flow and throw off your to-do’s for the day. What do you do instead? Let the call go to voicemail. If it’s important call them back during a break time or have them schedule a time via e-mail. Oh, I HIGHLY recommend using an app like Calendly to schedule all your calls and meetings. The only exception I make? My family is my number one priority in life, so I will always answer calls from them.
4. Do not e-mail when you wake up or right before going to sleep
This is one of my worst habits. I sleep with my phone next to me, so it’s very easy for me to check e-mail immediately when I wake up. I also hate having unread e-mails, so I make sure to check them before going to bed. Why is this bad? We’re constantly living in a cycle where work is always on our minds. Those precious minutes in the morning are a great time to live in the present moment and reflect on your life priorities. Checking e-mail can scramble those priorities and plans for the day.
Ah, that feeling of accomplishment that comes at the end of a long day, when you’ve gotten through your to-do list and cleared your mind. The last thing you want to interrupt this calm is receiving an important e-mail right as you’re going to sleep. It’ll consumer your thoughts and make you restless.
5. Do not waste time on low-benefit, high-cost endeavors
Have you heard of the Pareto principle? The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
20% of the input creates 80% of the result
20% of the workers produce 80% of the result
20% of the customers create 80% of the revenue
Focus your time on the 20% that make the most of your job. Now, this is a generalized principle, not everything will come out to exactly 20/80, but most things in life are not evenly distributed.
6. Do not let people talk about nothing
Have you been part of a conversation with someone where they going on and on about nothing you care about? If someone needs you, have them get to the point by using “I’m in the middle of something, but what’s up?” Relationships are really valuable, but your time is too. Keep it polite, but move the conversation on.
7. Do not constantly check your e-mail.
E-mail is addictive. The constant ping, feeling wanted / important, it’s like a drug. McKinsey found that workers spend 28% of the work day reading and answering e-mail. That’s over 11 hours! Focus on your prioritized to-do list and only check e-mail during designated times, twice or three times a day.
8. Do not work more just because you’re stressed.
When I feel overwhelmed, my reaction is to work more. It’s natural to think, “if I can manage to get everything done I’ll feel better,” but this isn’t always true. What’s more effective is to prioritize your work, because if you don’t everything seems urgent and important.
9. DO NOT LET WORK CONSUME YOUR LIFE
I’m with you. I have lots of great ambitions in life and such a short time to accomplish it all. But no matter what you accomplish you won’t find a destination that will leave you completely satisfied. Instead, enjoy the journey. Enjoy the people around you, enjoy all your successes so far, enjoy every single day. Focus to get the important things done during your planned work hours, but then defend your time outside of work as you would an important business meeting. You’re more valuable than the sum of your accomplishments.
The top 3 things on my Not To Do List?
1) Number 9 – Do not let work consume your life
2) Number 5 – Do not waste time on low-benefit, high-cost endeavors
3) Number 4 – Do not e-mail when you wake up or right before going to sleep
What are your top 3?