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8 Forgotten Habits to Cut for A More Productive 2016


For a large chunk of the population, a top priority for 2016 is getting ahead in work, life, career, etc., and generally doing more now in order to enjoy more opportunities later. If that applies to you, cutting these habits is a must.

1. What's your favorite sport to watch?

Football seems a likely choice. Watching one football game takes up 3 1/2 to 4 hours of your day, not including any tailgating, pregame activities, or recouping from too many beers and wings.

3 1/2 to 4 hours is also the same amount of time it would take you to exercise for 30+ minutes every day of the week. If you want to be more productive, cut out watching sports on TV. Instead, use that time to further your goals, and keep up with the scores through your ESPN app if you must.

2. Walk inside and take your coffee black.

Any coffee shop worth its beans is going to be busy more often than not, meaning that there's usually going to be a line. I love a good white mocha frappuccino as much as every other red-blooded American, but is it really worth the wait? If you order a drink that has to be made, like an espresso or anything with whipped cream, your order gets added to the bottom of the list of drinks to make.

But if you order a black coffee, most baristas will have your cup of saving grace poured and in your hands by the time you swipe your card. Skip adding cream and sugar, and you've just saved yourself 5-10+ minutes for every trip.

Multiply 10 minutes times however many times you go to a coffee shop each week, by 52 weeks in a year, and that's how many hours you'll save by switching to black coffee. Not to mention the calories!

3. Cut the commute.

Do you know how much time you spend waiting in traffic each day? The national average time for daily commute, one way, is over 25 minutes. That means the average person spends over 50 minutes a day sitting in a car, and 50% of the population spends even more time than that everyday just trying to get to a place where they can be productive. That's insane!

We live in a mobile era. Anything you want to do, you can do from anywhere. So cut your commute. If you don't have the freedom to work entirely remotely, work from home each day until the traffic dies down. This way your time in the car is actually spent getting somewhere, rather than admiring a major highway's ability to quickly transform into a parking lot.

Work from home until traffic dies down, then go into the office. Do the reverse when you're leaving. Between your time in the car and the energy it zaps from you, you could easily save an hour of productivity each day.

If you need to sweet talk your boss, Timothy Ferriss has some pretty great tips that have worked for a lot of people.

4. Stop answering phone calls.

With a hundred forms of digital communication available, there's no reason you should take someone's call simply because they're calling.

Every time you get distracted from what you're working on, it can take as long as 23 minutes to regain focus. If you answer three calls a day, you're wasting an hour trying to get back in the zone. That's outrageous!

It might help to change your voice greeting to ask people to text or email you if they really need you. This will also cut down on unwanted sales calls. Plus, doing so will help you avoid small talk and idle pleasantries, which also take up a significant chunk of time.

5. Have an active lunch.

Choosing an active lunch doesn't mean that you're working straight through. It means that you're doing something to stimulate your mind and body for the afternoon to come.

Walk around the block, go to the gym and exercise, read while you're eating, wade through the hundred emails and texts from that morning, eat on the way to a meeting - do something! Don't just zone out scrolling through various apps, but work to rejuvenate yourself.

6. Only check emails once or twice a day.

Remember that every time you get distracted it could take over 20 minutes to regain focus. Thus, you need to minimize distractions. A lot of professionals make the mistake of leaving their email tab open all day, so that they can respond immediately whenever they see "New Mail" flashing.

Depending on what type of email, an average email response time is anywhere from 47 minutes to 2.5 days, and people expect that. It's okay to wait. In fact, choose only one or two times during your work day to check your messages. Most of what you'll get isn't going to be anything important, and leaving "check emails" as a separate task will help you stay focused on what really matters.

7. Stop the mundane scrolling.

Give yourself a time allowance, or set up a feed (Flipboard, Feedly, etc.) so that when you're online, you're doing it with a purpose rather than mindlessly scrolling for the next bit of stimulation.

Whether it's during lunch, in between tasks, or whenever, a lot of people get into the habit of continually scrolling through their phones. I love mobile devices and everything our phones do for us, but it's okay to set them aside for a bit so that you can accomplish the task at hand.

8. Do you know how much time you spend watching Netflix and cable?

On average, we spend 90 minutes everyday watching Netflix. That's about as long as I've spent on this article. That doesn't even include watching live events!

They're great, but television shows and movies can be an endless drain of life and productivity. Sure, we all have our favorites (How I Met Your Mother). There's always something new to binge watch (Master of None), and you don't want to be left out of social circles by missing the latest pop hit (The Force Awakens).

But keep in mind that every twenty minutes or two hours you spend watching a show or movie is time you could use to workout, to get ahead on tomorrow's responsibilities, to further your hobbies, to start a side business - anything!