If you're like many people, you probably engage in tech-related activities that whittle away at your productivity. There are lots of tempting gadgets, devices and machines, which makes it easy to get distracted. To help you ward off tech temptations that lower productivity, here are 10 tech mistakes and some useful organizational tips.
1. Checking social media sites at the wrong time and places: You get a squirt of dopamine every time you check a social media site and have a fun exchange with a friend or colleague. However, that very thing makes you more likely to interrupt productive work to constantly check in. In short, it's addictive. Protect yourself from the addictive side of social media and outline clear guidelines for using it. Limit yourself to five or 10 minutes tops. If you find you are having a difficult time doing this, install blocking software like Concentrate or Freedom that locks you out of social media while you are working on important tasks.
2. Checking email compulsively: Studies show that every time you interrupt a task by doing something like switching to email each time you hear the inbox alert it takes you at least 20 minutes to get re-focused on the task you abandoned. The average worker spends 1 hour 47 minutes every day on email. But the constant switching means you'll waste an additional 96 minutes as you try to get back on task.
3. Turning on all app notifications: There's no easier way to get distracted than setting up notifications for all of your online activities in each of your gadgets. Limit the notifications you set up to those that are truly essential, like calendar meeting reminders.
4. Texting Anytime Anywhere: Never text in meetings, during family occasions, while driving or during any other important activity.
5. Dropping tech tools in a heap on your desk: A messy workspace is one of the most notorious killers of productivity. You simply can't focus with clutter around. In that spirit, don't drop tech tools like your smartphone, iPod, or tablet in a disarrayed jumble on your desk.
6. Multitasking. Keeping multiple screens open at one time and jumping back and forth between tasks is counter-productive. According to studies, multitasking lowers your IQ by 10 points -- more than if you smoked marijuana! We recommend creating a daily task list at the start of each day (or week) and scheduling important tasks.
7. Sitting in a non-ergonomic seat. Researchers are starting to find that people tend to hold their breath when they are hunched over and work behind a screen. Holding your breath in this way, coined email apnea by experts, actually sets off the fight-or-flight response in your brain. We recommend sitting on a chair that supports an ideal sitting posture and deep breathing.
8. Surfing the Web. The web is a procrastinator's paradise. When you are facing a difficult or painful task, browsing interesting blogs or doing armchair shopping can seem like a wonderful idea. Until you emerge three hours later with nothing to show for your efforts. Do yourself a favor and use blocking programs to keep the temptation to aimlessly surf at bay.
9. Failing to back up. Hard drive crashes and data losses are a matter of when, not if. Set up a push-button backup that happens automatically every 24 hours. In addition, use cloud-based storage like Dropbox to ensure you're never without the files you need when you need them.
10. Saving files willy-nilly. Establish a simple filing structure for your digital files. Organize by project, by clients or type of file (e.g. Excel files). It just has to make sense to you. In addition, adopt a standard naming structure for your files. For example, give each file a descriptive name followed by the date.
The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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