Do you promise yourself that you’ll do something, only to keep putting it off? Do you spend hours working, without accomplishing everything you set out to? You’re not alone – billions of people struggle to be productive.

But it’s productive people who built cities, gained followers, invented amazing things, and went to space. And here you are wondering – how exactly did they do that? They stopped some bad habits.

Habits that are proven to be unproductive. So, instead of wasting your time with bad habits, try these science-backed strategies to be more productive:

 

Stop Being a Yes Man/Woman

When you’re asked to do something, can you say “no”? Sometimes, it’s really hard – and you might find yourself constantly agreeing to everyone’s requests. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the way you respond to these requests.

While it’s a given that you can’t say no to people like your boss or your spouse, you can take control of everyone else you say “yes” and “no” to throughout your day. By saying “no”, you can rid yourself of the Pareto Principle: 20% of your input creates 80% of the result. 20% of results come from 80% of the effort.

The bottom line? Spend time on requests that actually matter.

 

Stop Doing Everything Yourself

While it might be impressive to be a jack of all trades, it gets tiring. There’s also no reason to be a superhuman. If you shoo everyone away, where will people be when you inevitably fail and need help? They’ll be long gone by then.

Brian Howard, author of the book 100 Principles for Leadership, suggests to ask yourself the following questions:

What kinds of things are you doing that someone else could do?

Am I the only person who can do this task?

Is there any better use of my time?

There’s no shame in reaching out for help. It’ll save you time, energy, and maybe even money. And best of all, people will see you as human rather than superhuman.

 

Stop Starting Your Day Unprepared

We all hate the feeling of rushing around in the morning, but we still do it every day. Jump ahead of everyone else and prepare the night before. It’ll leave you feeling ready and refreshed.

Business Insider compiled a list of things successful people do before they go to bed. On the list, it included making a to-do list, planning out your sleep schedule, and disconnecting from all work-related tasks. Go to bed prepared and wake up worry-free!


Stop Letting Others Steal Your Time

Do you have friends that like to hang out all the time, even when you have work to do? Or how about people that are just so grouchy, you wonder why you’re hanging out with them in the first place?

It’s time to cut these people out for a while. It’s so easy to allow others to consume a large portion of our day when we really need to get stuff done. Time Management Ninja suggests “blocking your time” so that you can have some of that precious “me time” without having to cater to others.


Stop Obsessing Over Your Social Media

No matter how much we think otherwise, the online world is not the real world. And having your online accounts open 24/7 won’t help anything. One minute you’ll be working on a paper, and decide you need a break. The next minute becomes an hour as you waste time watching cat videos and cute babies!

According to a Cowen and Company poll, Facebook users across all age groups spend an average of 42.1 minutes per day on the site. Just think about how many minutes you dedicate to other social media sites!

 

Stop Being a Pessimist

Life is stressful, so a little negativity never hurt anyone. But if you’re always looking at the glass half-empty, it will earn you a bad reputation and keep you from accomplishing your goals. A 30-year Mayo clinic study revealed that pessimism has been associated to a decrease in physical and mental health and increases in chronic sicknesses.

Maybe it’s time for a new outlook on life – try enjoying the little things, finding comfort in small moments of peace, and turning negative situations into positives.


Stop Saying “I Can’t”

The phrase “I Can’t” is basically a setup for failure. Eliminate it from your vocabulary.

Business strategist Paula Onysko offers the following insight: “Your brain is designed to gather evidence for what you say is true. It wants to prove you right every time. So it energetically attracts circumstances and conditions to do exactly that.”

So instead of saying “I Can’t”, try phrases like “How Can I?” or “I Don’t”. The first can help motivate you to achieve a goal, and the second can help you kick bad habits. For example, if you want to quit smoking, say to yourself “I don’t smoke.”

 

Stop Multitasking

You may think that you can do multiple things at once, but as it turns out, you’re wasting your time and energy. When you multitask, you give each task only a fraction of your attention – and that can lead to poor results.

A study published by Stanford University concluded that multitasking is less productive than focusing on single tasks. Researchers found that people who are bombarded with multiple information streams cannot pay attention or recall information as well as those who focus on individual tasks.

 

Stop Working (sometimes)

When it all comes down to it, some of us simply need a break. According to the Center for American Progress, 86 percent of U.S. men and 67 percent of women work more than 40 hours a week.

The demands of the 9-5 working world take a toll on our body and mind. This spells trouble for productivity, as well. Sometimes, the best way to become more productive is to take time off from work. After your time off, you can come back feeling refreshed, with an eager attitude and new ideas.

 

If you stop doing these things we’re all guilty of, you’ll be a step ahead on the path to success!

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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