Monthly Archives: March 2012

5 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Productivity, and How to Fix it – Part One

I Don't Waste Time

Image Source: Ecstatic Mark

We all want to be productive and maximize our work hours, but did you know you could be unwittingly sabotaging yourself with habits you think are productive, but actually aren’t?

Our brains are amazing and funny things – they can actually trick us into believing the exact opposite of the truth quite easily. This is probably what happened when you adopted these habits, somewhere along the way your brain actually convinced you that what you are doing is beneficial.

Lucky for you habits are easily changeable, if you are able to recognize the problem and take steps to correct it. So break the cycle and regain control of your productivity by nixing these big time wasters where you can.

Email

Email is quickly becoming a problem for businesses. That’s why you should stop checking your email.

Statistically, you receive an average of 147 messages daily, and spend more than 2.5 hours a day on email. And that’s per user! Resolve to stop checking your email, or at the very least control when and how you check it.

And whatever you do, don’t leave your email program up all day. Every time you receive a new email, a notification appears, interrupting you. Do yourself a favor and keep your email closed unless you’re actually using it.

Online Activity

Unfocused online activity can be a real productivity drain. It is one thing to use the internet for research, but when you find yourself mindlessly clicking from on page to the next, or wasting large amounts of time online, then it’s time to close the browser window and step away from the internet.

If your online habit is particularly heavy, you can always schedule your online time by using internet blockers. Internet blockers give you the ability to block a particular web page, and/or block out internet usage for a scheduled period of time.

Here’s a list of internet blockers which may be helpful to you.

Interruptions

Every worker, from the owner on down, should aim to get into “the zone” when working. This is where you are the most focused and productive. This is where the magic happens, and great things are accomplished.

However, once in the zone, even the smallest interruption can completely derail you. Then, it will take you 30 minute or more to get back into the swing of things.

This is why it’s important to try to minimize your interruptions if you want to make the most of your day. Shut your door, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, close your email, or work away from the office if you have to.

Find ways to actively reduce your interruptions and your productivity will soar.

These are just three of the ways you are sabotaging your own productivity. By working to eliminate one or more of these problems, you should find more time in your day to accomplish the

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things that really matter.

The second half of this post will be released on Friday March 23, so stay tuned.

Have you already banned one of these bad habits? Leave us a comment telling us how it helped you.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who is interested in helping you sit better and work easier. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Do You Sit Properly? Maintaining Proper Ergonomics

Ergonomics

Image Source: Flickr.com / Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

When working at your desk, do you always sit properly? Are your arms and legs positioned at the optimum angles to reduce back and arm strain?

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Is your chair at the right height and is your lower back supported?

Chances are you (or someone you know) pays little attention to proper ergonomics while working at your desk. Unfortunately, it’s your body that’s paying the ultimate price, even if you don’t notice the signs yet.

Sitting improperly can cause inflammation, joint stress, muscle strain and damage, and repetitive use injuries.

However, good ergonomics coupled with frequent 20 minute movement breaks, can reduce many of the negative side effects of office life.

How do you ensure good ergonomics?

Good posture is all about how you sit. The height of your chair, the way you place your feet, even the angle of your arms can all be working against you. Double check the way you sit to see if there are any adjustments that need to be made.

Your feet should be flat on the floor with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Similarly, your elbows should be bent at a 90 degree angle. Your wrists should be in line with your forearms and not bent at weird angles.

When sitting in your chair, you should sit slightly forward – enough so that you can fit three fingers width between you and the chair. You should be sitting up, not slouching, and your lower back should be supported.

Your desk must also be at the right height to ensure good posture, and should fall right at your belly button. Additionally, your monitor should be at eye level, or slightly below eye level to reduce neck strain.

But good posture is simply not enough. You must make sure you are active every hour, moving around for about 20 minutes.

One easy way to ensure this is to make your office conducive to movement – move the copier to the far side of the building, or even have “walking meetings”. Anything to encourage movement to help your body combat the fatigue of being a desk jockey all day.

By getting in the habit of practicing good posture and taking frequent movement breaks, you can drastically change the long term impact office life has on your body.

Want some more tips on sitting right? Here are some great resources:

http://www.back-exercise-and-pain-relief.com/desk-ergonomics.html

http://ergonomics.about.com/od/office/ss/computer_setup_6.htm

http://www.nismat.org/ptcor/ergo

http://openerg.com/dse/setup.html

What about you? Do you make it a habit to sit correctly when you work? Leave us a comment and let us know.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who is interested in helping you feel better while you work. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Stop Checking Your Email

Stop the email madness

Image Source Flickr.com / Uwe Hermann

There is a radical idea going around – the idea that you shouldn’t check your email, at least not first thing in the morning.

The theory is that email places unnecessary demands on your schedule, causing you to readjust your day to accommodate the requests in your inbox. Once you’ve tended to all your requests, there is often not enough time to accomplish your most important work.

Switching your habits and blocking off time to work first, before you check your email for the day, allows you to prioritize your work and focus on what is truly important, instead of chasing your inbox.

Is this realistic and even feasible?

You’ll probably say that there is no way to go without checking your email at the start of your day. You’re worried that there is something important in there, critical to the daily operation of business.

If it was truly urgent, it wouldn’t be sent via email.

The Problem with Email

Email has become a problem. It’s akin to a toddler that you are always chasing after – constantly messy, and unpredictable.

Email was supposed to be a communication tool to make life easier, not harder. Yet, it no longer works for you.

It has now become one of the main ways everyone communicates in business. Instead of picking up the phone and having a simple conversation with a client, or talking to employees in the same building, an email is sent and the maddening cycle continues.

They say for every one email you send out, you get six in return. SIX! Think about that next time you go to send an email.

The real problem with email is that it is impersonal. It cuts out a foundational business component – the relationship. Every time you send an email to someone, whether it is a client or employee, you are sending the same signal – they are not important enough for you to stop what you are doing and have a real conversation.

How do you stop the madness? Refuse to chase after it anymore.

Schedule It

Schedule time for your email, considering both what time you will check your email, and for how long. It is one thing to decide when you are going to check your email, but if you spend an hour or more every time you check it you haven’t gained any of the benefits of scheduling your email time.

Instead, decide how long you are going to check your email for, and when. Once in your inbox, prioritize your time by answering the most pressing emails first. Then, move on to the next important, and so on.

If you can’t get to all of your emails don’t panic, try to get to them next time. If you never get to certain emails, maybe they weren’t that important to begin with.

Reinstate Conversations

Instead of sending an email, ask yourself if this is an opportunity to connect, and have a conversation with the person.

This means having real conversations with our clients and employees. Additionally, questions and concerns can be addressed immediately, solving problems before they begin, and saving you time in the long run.

Ultimately, the only way truly slay the email monster is to get ahead of it, and stop sending emails in the first place.

What do you think about this radical idea of not checking your email? Have you ever tried it before? What was the result? Leave us a comment and tell us about it. We would love to hear your story.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who is interested in helping your business be more productive.  Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.