We only have so many hours in the day so why do some people spend it on tasks that won’t enhance their happiness or lead to success?
Baffling, isn’t it?
Lots of people work hard.
They burn the midnight oil, put in long hours on group projects, or evenings catching up on email.
They’ll often complain there are not enough hours in the day.
This isn’t entirely true, though.
We do have enough hours to do the kind of work that is productive and will lead to success, but the problem is that many people are stuck in unproductive work routines or — worse — doing unnecessary work.
Lots of people work because they want to look busy.
They don’t question whether the work in meaningful, if it’s adding anything to the company, or whether there is a more efficient way of doing things.
Remember, though, that financial freedom doesn’t come from working hard with no real purpose or end in sight.
Financial freedom comes from a series of habits that are consistently applied in a very deliberate direction.
So, here is my list of overrated work habits that you need to ditch in order to become a success at whatever you do.
1. Spending a long time on an email
I read some work statistics recently that stated office workers receive at least 200 messages a day and spend about two-and-a-half hours reading and replying to emails.
Sounds about right, doesn’t it?
Email has taken over so much of our workday, and if not managed properly it can really affect people’s productivity levels.
The best way to handle emails is to respond to them as soon as you get them.
Save the really important ones for later, but never put off simple responses and don’t spend too long composing the reply.
Short, sharp and professional is the way to go. Your brain will thank you.
2. Going without sleep
We featured a story on this site some 18 months back that asked how much sleep people really need.
Scores of people clicked on it — it’s been a very popular post — which tells me lots of readers are worried they’re not getting enough.
The right amount of sleep varies from person to person, but most experts agree that adults need a bare minimum of six hours per night, with eight considered ideal.
Now, don’t worry if you’re not getting that amount.
Many people get less than that and still feel energised.
You often read stories of CEOs and world leaders needing only four hours sleep, but you don’t need to be an insomniac to be successful.
Plenty of CEOs need more.
CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, needs seven, as does Bill Gates and Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos.
The main thing is that you’re getting the right amount for you.
Try not to skip too many nights of quality sleep because your brain and body need that time to recover.
Trust me: it’s better to sleep for an hour longer than to work all day at half-capacity because you skimped on sleep.
3. Working long hours (without a goal)
Many successful people work extremely long hours, and there is nothing wrong with this if you’re building a company up.
There will be times when you need to work long hours to see a return on your investment.
But this kind of life cannot work forever.
Burn-out is a real risk for hard workers, so if you’re finding yourself working back later than everyone else you need to ask yourself why.
Are you a people pleaser who needs to be seen to be working? Are you inefficient? Do you procrastinate? Have you taken too much on and need to delegate?
Working long hours, for a long period of time, is not a sign of success nor does it guarantee it.
It’s a sign that you need to do an audit of the way you work and look at ways to become more efficient.
4. Never logging off
Put your hand up if you’ve ever sent or received an email on a Friday night or a Sunday morning?
I think we’ve all been guilty of that one.
Try and avoid this as much as possible.
A good boss sets the culture in an office by not asking staff to reply to weekend emails unless it’s urgent.
There’ll be times when you need to phone a staff member on a weekend, or shoot off an email on a Sunday night, but where possible try to keep weekend work to a minimum.
This will help you to avoid the modern condition of “Never Logging Off”.
This is a mental health disaster waiting to happen, so ensure there’s some time in your weekend when you’re not sitting in front of your computer.
The problem with many of these habits is that too many of us wear them as a badge of honour, but being a slave to your email and not getting enough sleep won’t lead to success.
Instead, you’ll be left burnt out and overtaken by the person who knows how to work more efficiently, in less time.
It’s the agile, organised workers that win the race, not the exhausted workers on autopilot.
Remember that old adage: Work smarter, not harder? It’s true.