4 Productivity-Killing Habits That Are Exhausting You At Work

productivity-killing habits

Do you feel exhausted after work but when you stop to think about your completed tasks you realize you didn’t do much actual work at all?

First off, it’s not your fault. Life is filled with distractions that can grab our attention at any moment.

Sometimes the distractions are completely out of our control, but the way we react to these distractions is often what derails our productivity.

Huffington Post published an article detailing the 12 Mindless Habits That Are Secretly Exhausting You, and four of the habits are focused on life at work. 

“It’s no secret feeling drained has become the status quo, one that leaves us overexerting ourselves to get through the necessities of the day. This leads us to lean on any energy booster we can think of to help us make it through. However, we also should suss out the energy sappers lurking in our daily habits.”

Here are 4 productivity-killing habits we all fall victim to during the workday, along with suggestions on not allowing these distractions to ruin our progress.

1. Working at a messy desk

If your desk is a mess, you probably tell coworkers there’s a “method to your madness.” The truth is probably that you’re just lazy or trying to look busy. Maybe you’re just messy. Whatever the reason, your messy desk is secretly exhausting you.

“Working in a cluttered environment may increase distractibility and inattentiveness. The result? Tasks take longer to complete, requiring you to use up more mental focus and energy over time.

I advise individuals to spend 10-15 minutes each day tidying up their work area while listening to calming music,” said Leela R. Magavi, a psychiatrist and regional medical director for Community Psychiatry and MindPath Care Centers in California. “This can create a positive pattern of behavior.”

A messy desk is a productivity-killing habit that can be crushed immediately. Toss stuff you don’t need, file stuff away, and clean out your desk drawers, so it’s easier to find things.

2. Having too many tabs open

“Too many tabs” is an issue that plagues us all. You open one tab and then another and then think of something you wanted to check in the middle of another task, and the next thing you know, you’re drowning in open tabs and screens.

“Bouncing from tab to tab gives your ego the misconception you’re getting an incredible amount of work done,” said Rana Mafee, chief neurologist at Case Integrative Health told the Huffington Post. “In reality, you’re not fully processing anything you’re trying to efficiently consume.”

Here’s the fix: “Instead of gradually sucking up your mental energy by leaving an ungodly number of tabs open, try asking yourself every hour or so: What do I actually need in front of me right now? What purpose is this tab serving me?”

3. Taking calls right away

Another of the productivity-killing habits is answering the phone.

Did you know that it can take your brain over 20 minutes to fully regain focus after a phone call?

When your phone rings – either the office phone or cell phone – do you pick it up immediately? If you do, you could be partaking in one of the biggest productivity-killing habits of all.

Huffington Post suggests that before taking the call, take a few seconds to ask yourself these questions:

Is this really a good place to stop?

Do I legit have the capacity for this particular conversation right now?

If the answer is “no” to both, keep doing what you’re doing, and return the phone call later. Even if it’s your boss.

4. Leaving off in the wrong spot

As a writer, I was always told – or trained – to stop writing when the story gets good. This makes it easier to pick up where I left off. If I stop writing and have painted myself into a corner, I won’t want to return to work.

This article warns that leaving a project or task at the wrong spot can cause “attention residue.” This is a productivity-killing habit you’ll want to avoid whenever possible.

“When you experience attention residue, your brain is working overtime by thinking about the task you’re now on, as well as ruminating about the previous task you had to leave unfinished,” Mafee said.

The more often this happens, the harder your brain has to work to stay focused, chipping away at your energy reserves in the process.

No day will ever be totally free of interruptions, but there are a few easy tricks that can help. “The easiest one is to modify the notification settings on your computer and phone and then manually check for messages when it’s truly best for you to do so,” Mafee said.

Another is to overestimate the time it will take you to finish something. If interruptions do happen during the task, you’ll stand a better chance of getting to finish it anyway before having to move on to the next one.”

Chris Illuminati

Chris Illuminati is the author of five books and has written about personal finance, wealth, debt management, and entrepreneurship for numerous outlets including Wise Bread, Grow or Die, and Bankrate.