You’ve probably heard the saying that 20 percent of your activities account for 80 percent of your success. This means that 80 percent of your activities are of at least low value, if not a complete waste of time. If you want to improve your success, you have two choices–find more time in your day or eliminate those time-wasting activities.
The problem is that a lot of those time-wasting activities have become habits–things you do without thinking. Habits can be difficult to change, but it is possible to replace them with new behaviors. When you replace bad habits with activities that focus on that worthwhile 20 percent, you’ll find yourself much more successful in the same amount of–or perhaps even less–time per week.
Here are five time-wasting habits to cut out of your life for good.
1. Checking email constantly.
In 2013, a whopping 32 percent of U.S. employees reported that they replied to emails within 15 minutes of receiving them. An additional 23 percent responded within 30 minutes. But is faster actually better? Constantly checking email costs us a ton of valuable time, but it is something that can controlled.
2. Waiting for things to be perfect.
It’s an unfortunate reality that perfectionism can paralyze you. Instead of doing tasks efficiently, you end up wasting a tremendous amount of time trying to perfect things that should simply be sent on to the next phase.
Multitasking has become a bad habit for many Americans, but in reality it makes you less productive. Your brain can focus on only one thing at a time, and constantly switching tasks actually retrains your brain to not really focus at all.
4. Inviting interruptions.
Are you working in an environment prone to distractions? One study showed that workers get interrupted every 11 minutes. No wonder we don’t get anything done! Think about how many habitual things you do every day that actually invite people to interrupt you, from sending a quick text to checking your email when trying to focus on something else.
5. Being disorganized.
There are many different ways to organize that don’t include a tidy desk. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh loves a messy desk, while others prefer using filing cabinets. Regardless, a habit of working in disorganized chaos is also a major time waster. Constantly losing important papers, repeatedly asking for key information, and forgetting to complete a task until the last minute are all unnecessary time spenders. Instead, experiment withorganizational habits that work for you and use them consistently.