• Here we go again: today you’re going to be productive! And yet, it’s already noon and you don’t know where time has gone?! Instead of getting stressed over your long list of to-do items that have been sitting on your desktop for weeks, how about checking out my simple rules of what not to do?!.

    In my view, here are the worst productivity mistakes we should all endeavour to avoid!

  • 1. Avoid Frequent Interruptions

    You get to the office and you think you’ll have the whole day to be focused, productive and efficient. Wrong! We always over-estimate our actual time that’s available to be truly productive. We forget all the emails, the questions from our colleagues or leaders, organising the next event; and so on…the day gently glides away.

    And the science backs it up: 71% of people at work report frequent interruptions and more than half of us (56%) feel we don’t accomplish anything during our working day (Murphy, 2016).

    So, if you want to make sure your productivity is flying, block out time in your calendar for checking your emails and messages, the necessary meetings…the effects will be impressive!

  • 2. Forget the Easy Start

    When we get to the office we’re all tempted to crack on all the insignificant and simple tasks than can get done in the first hour of your day. While doing so though, we fill up our brain capacity with unnecessary noise and risk being tired and less focused when we get to the important and complicated tasks.

    Evidence suggests we must prioritise our tasks to achieve the best results (Goharshenasan & Shahin, 2017). My best practice? Prioritise your tasks in order of importance, concentration required and revenue generated!

    And as Mark Twain said “eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”.

  • 3. Rethink Your Seated Position

    When I started at Goldman Sachs, one of the tangible signs of my new role was an ultra-comfortable, ergonomically advanced, seating mechanism, or chair! I was thrilled but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

    In reality, research suggests that working from a standing station, people are some 45% more productive (Garrett et al., 2016). As well as improving their metabolism and posture. So for the ultimate productivity booster, stand up!

  • 4. No more Artificial Light

    If you live in a big city, you probably don’t see the sun that much. Especially in London. Though with global warming things are looking up!

    The fact is that many offices simply don’t have natural light and rely on artificial lighting to – allegedly - keep employees productive.

    However, exposure to natural light positively impacts our mood, our metabolism, even our focus and productivity (Boubekri et al., 2014). If you don’t have access to natural light, consider investing in a SAD lamp, to address Seasonal Affective Disorder, that will provide all the light therapy you’ll need to improve your mood and productivity.

  • 5. Quit Coffee

    I know what you’re going to say. And this is most certainly not from my high horse! I loved coffee; it was part of my routine, but is was also part of my physical coping mechanism.

    I quit caffeine ages ago, but remember the dependency like yesterday – waking up and only thinking about coffee, that you really need coffee, that the beautiful brown stuff is the only thing that can make ever you function. If this sounds like you, what if I tell you you’ve been drinking coffee in the wrong way? Precisely, at the wrong time…

    Early in the morning our body has a natural way to wake us up. In fact our levels of cortisol are naturally peeking until 9 or 10 am (Debono et al., 2008). So, let your body do its job and limit your caffeine intake between 10 am and 12 pm, or 2 pm and 5 pm, when our cortisol levels are lowest.

  • 6. Slow that Over-Thinking Mind

    Ever heard of the “Paradox of Choice [CLICK HERE]? According to the American psychologist Barry Schwartz (Ted Talks, 2005) having many, many choices and options can indeed bring better results, but only if we can overcome the anxiety, indecision and paralysis that comes with it, to optimise our decision making processes.

    In my view, in the informationally overloaded world that we live, it's essential to learn how to effectively navigate all the information and options we have to boost our productivity and performance by taking action.

  • 7. Cede Control

    Especially if you’re senior leader or entrepreneur, the temptation of having everything under control is not just appealing, it feels like a necessity! Yes you are better qualified, you do have the best insights about your business or project, but guess what?

    There’s only 24 hours a day!

    It doesn’t matter how talented, skilled and organised you are, if you want to be truly productive and successful you need to learn how to delegate the tasks that somebody else can take care of (Obi et al., 2018).

    Trust me, my business dramatically improved when I started delegating a bit more and controlled a little less. Just make sure you chose the right people for your team!

    So, by avoiding my favourite, well-worn productivity mistakes, are you now ready to stand up, enjoy the sun, and take all the actions necessary to become a productivity pro?


    Wishing you an amazing productive day,