5 surprising ways you’re ruining your workday productivity

5 min read
Meredith Wood

Time is money. You want to get everything you can out of each minute you sit in your office. But are any of your habits destroying your workday productivity? Lots of well-meaning individuals are doing things at work that make them less focused and more prone to errors.

Read on to learn about some of the biggest blockers of workplace productivity to share what you can do to avoid these common mistakes.

5 ways to ruin workday productivity

If you want to be productive at work, you’ll need to steer clear of these five mistakes.

  1. Not getting enough sleep.

  2. Multitasking.

  3. Poor diet.

  4. A messy workspace.

  5. Lack of preparation.

While some of these might seem a little obvious, they could still be negatively impacting your workday productivity. Keep reading to see how you can make adjustments for the better.

1. Not getting enough sleep

Workday Productivity Sleep

According to a 2016 study from the RAND Corporation, insufficient sleep is costing the United States $411 billion dollars a year in lost workday productivity. The numbers are similarly staggering in other developed nations like Japan, the United Kingdom and Canada.

You might feel like the definition of workday productivity is staying up late on the company cell phone answering emails, and then hopping onto that 6 a.m. call with your client in London. But, in fact, when you’re running on fumes you’re less focused and more likely to make errors that you’ll have to go back and correct later on. You should be aiming for at least seven hours of sleep per night to be your best, most-effective self at work.

2. Multitasking

The ability to multitask is something a lot of entrepreneurs and professionals wear as a badge of honor. But as Travis Bradberry notes in Forbes, numerous studies have shown that multitasking actually reduces workday productivity. Ironically, the participants in the study who declared themselves effective multitaskers were actually the ones most likely to be slowest at switching from one task to another.

Keeping one eye constantly on your email inbox is one of the gravest offenses in office multitasking.

Whether you’re writing a press release, designing a presentation, or drafting meeting minutes, close out of your Outlook or Gmail so that you’re not tempted to toggle between your inbox and your project at hand. You’ll get all of your work done quicker and with fewer errors.

3. Poor diet

Workday Productivity Cheeseburger

Everyone knows that eating a cheeseburger and fries for lunch is not the best decision — it’ll leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated for the rest of the day. But when you’ve been sitting at your desk for hours and suddenly realize that you’re starving, you’re likely to reach for the quickest, cheapest option for lunch.

A paper in the July 2014 edition of the British Journal of Health Psychology studied the effects of eating fruits and vegetables, and found the participants who ate the most fruits and veggies throughout the day reported higher levels of creativity, engagement, and focus.

Make it easy to find healthy food at work.

Cook a big, vegetable-filled stew on Sunday night that you can bring for lunch for the week, and have granola bars and apples on hand rather than relying on the vending machine.

4. A messy workspace

There’s a line of thinking that creativity comes from chaos. You might think your messy desk is a sign of genius, but in reality the clutter is slowing you down.

In a study reported in Harvard Business Review, people seated at messy desks took longer to answer word and color matching questions than those at a tidy workspace.

When you’re surrounded by mess, your sense of personal control is lessened, which makes it more difficult to self-regulate and complete your tasks. Now might be the time for you to invest in color-coded file folders and drawer dividers to keep your space neat and your mind free from distractions.

5. Lack of preparation

Maintaining workday productivity means making sure that you have the tools to accomplish your task. Say you carve out time on Friday afternoon to finish a big presentation. But once you begin working you realize you don’t have the stock photo files you need for the visual presentation and you have to download the latest version of PowerPoint before you can get started.

You’ve set yourself up for failure.

Put together a list of all the things you’ll need to complete your project ahead of time. Be sure that you have all of your ducks in a row in advance, so that you’re not discouraged and defeated before you even begin your work.

In conclusion

Even if you come into the office with the best of intentions, if you’re tired, hungry and scattered it’s nearly impossible to do good work. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally and creating a workspace that’s conducive to workday productivity can make you a better, happier employee.