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3 Most Common Productivity Mistakes

Information and documents keep piling up, and you don’t know where to start? Are you having trouble concentrating? Can’t get enough sleep? What you need to do is relax and learn how to prioritize tasks.

There is an old rhyme, which lets you decide on different issues with the help of daisy, which would also be very helpful for self-organization. Namely, with the “to do or not to do” question. Because, again and again, the missing decision on how we deal with all the information and tasks becomes the reason for unnecessary stress. Therefore, here is our input on the topic: How to rely not only on the daisy trick to make relaxed work possible.

In this article, we would like to focus on three common errors that prevent carefree work.

#1 “It Looks Messy But That Does Not Stop Me From Working Efficiently”

Yes, we all know that common attitude — “Genius rules chaos.” That may also be true for one or the other. However, scientific findings have found the opposite of the general public.

In fact, the Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik had 164 test subjects solve various tasks in an experiment at the University of Berlin. The participants were allowed to finish some of the tasks and prevented them from completing others. That could be writing college essay examples, reading books, and accomplishing other tasks with different aims. After the experiment, Zeigarnik checked how many tasks the participants still remembered. It turned out that unfinished tasks were 90 percent more likely to be remembered than completed ones, regardless of the age, gender, or educational level of the participants. Since then, the results have come to be known as the “Zeigarnik effect.”

That is, we are actually distracted from all the physical and virtual aspects that we have not yet decided on how to handle it.

The film industry uses the Zeigarnik effect to build up tension at the end of a specific sequence. That way, the thoughts of the viewers continue to revolve around the events until the next sequence.

From that, we can conclude that having a ‘distraction-free’ work environment isn’t a prerequisite for concentrating on your daily routine. To keep up with a mounting workload, you should be able to deal with intersecting and overlapping tasks.

#2: “I Always Have to Work Everything Out.”

No, you don’t always have to finish everything! That would be unrealistic. But an attitude should be taken over the loose threads in terms of information and requirements. The problem with a piling workload is that we have not yet decided what to do with it. We still don’t know:

  • What this information means to us
  • What goal we pursue
  • What the next step is

Of course, the same applies to emails. We often see mailboxes overfilled with incoming messages. How can we expect our brain to distinguish 53 important messages from 1,653 unimportant ones?.

One possible way of handling that problem is using color-coding. However, you stop recognizing your own color-coding in a short while, and that is another serious issue.

#3: “I Have to Do As Much As Possible.”

Creating a relaxed working environment is all about determining strategically important tasks!

Instead of focusing on minor daily assignments, you should identify activities that are really important for your business or your customers. Of course, it will always be a mixture of both. However, determining the priorities will certainly make a big difference. It is important that the decision is made in writing because written commitments are 28% more likely to get anchored in the brain.

These questions help in deciding priority levels we should assign to each task:

  • Does it benefit my client?
  • Does it benefit my business?
  • Does it benefit me?

One more question you can ask yourself is: “What is it that brings the greatest benefit to my customer/my business/me?”.

Conclusion: The Key to Relaxation is Your Willpower

The attitude towards everything that flows into you and the conscious decision on how you want to handle it is crucial for a more relaxed feeling about the large number of tasks that you face daily.

Ideally, you should take each case separately and decide immediately if any action is necessary. If so, it’s important to understand which one deserves your attention the most. The complexity of the decision can be reduced quite well at this point. Because there are only four options for the next steps:

  • Action: If it does not take more than 2 minutes, you should do it immediately. 
  • Prioritize: Determine what actually benefits you.
  • Delegate: Creativity and willpower can free up important new resources.
  • Archiving: This requires having an intuitive and uncomplicated filing system.

If you follow the above four steps, you’ll have no trouble relaxing at work and make it efficient.

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