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Possible Reasons Why You Don't Finish Most Of Your Tasks

At the start of the workday, we often assume the eight hours that stretch out ahead of us will allow us to check off all those tasks on our daily to-do lists. This isn’t always the case, however, and many times we are surprised to find that we didn’t even make it halfway through our list. Try to recall all the things you did for the day, and perhaps you’ll find one or two items listed below as one of the productivity zappers that affected your target work efficiency. 


Answering emails


Believe it or not, going through your inbox, reading messages, and composing your responses take up a lot of time, particularly true if you’re not the type who immediately responds, much less read through her inbox. And while emailing is something you can’t really avoid doing at work, it pays to always set aside a particular amount of time to make sure all messages have been read. One solution to shorten the amount of time it takes to reply to all your messages is to categorize each email into urgent and not-so-urgent messages. Flag messages that require immediate attention, and place others in a different folder you can come back to later on. Set aside 30-45 minutes each morning to do this, write out your replies to the flagged ones, and forward messages to members of your team who may be able to help deal with the other emails at hand. The rest can be stowed away to a “Later” folder at another set schedule, say, 30 minutes before you clock out. 


Google and Facebook


Search engines and social media are often such indispensable tools at work (particularly if you deal with media, marketing, research, and other related jobs), but if you start researching and find yourself still reading—often unrelated material—45 minutes to an hour later, then you’ve gone into a Google or Facebook time suck. To help you manage your time on your laptop or desktop, try a time management app like RescueTime (available on Android and Apple) that runs in the background on your computer and mobile device, tracks the time you spend on particular apps or websites, and sends you reports on what you’ve done for the day while on your devices. Not all IT systems block specific websites and apps in the office, so you can set the limits yourself by trying a blocking app like ColdTurkey. If Facebook is your waterloo, you can block it from your device and receive a motivational message that you should be working. You can even block off certain times of the day or week from surfing, using particular apps, or even emailing. 


Too many coffee breaks


Notice how you cave in to every invitation from colleagues to “take a quick break”? If you really want to get things done, stop justifying that you need an unlimited number of breaks to “clear your mind.” Have a specific schedule for work breaks—morning coffee (15 minutes), lunch break (1 hour), afternoon stretch or walk (10 minutes). This helps you condition your mind and allows you to focus on the tasks at hand during those times when you shouldn’t be on a break. If you also show your officemates that you are firm about following your break schedules, they will eventually stop bugging you to leave your desk every now and then (and perhaps be encouraged to keep working, too) 


This article first appeared in Working Mom magazine December 2017-January 2018 issue