Hand stacking star marked cubes to denoting our habits to stop for productivity.
Image Credit: ©theblogrelay.com

Did you know that we unknowingly engage in several habits that we need to stop for more productivity? These habits impede our efficiency and waste a lot of effort and time.

Productivity is often seen as the key to achieving success. As we succeed at work, we attract more work because that’s how our excellence is measured. However, we eventually realize we only have so much time and energy! And we start pushing ourselves for more. And that’s when you need to have “not-to-do” lists that help you grow consistently in the long run without degrading your productivity.

Here are seven habits that you should immediately acknowledge and say no to them! Your productivity will jump as and when you eliminate these habits. Start by gradually changing these behaviors, maybe one or two.

7 Habits You Must Stop For More Productivity

#1. Multitasking

Multitasking is often mistaken for efficiency, but a recent study says it reduces productivity by up to 40%. Constantly switching between tasks impairs cognitive function, leading to more mistakes and lower quality of work. 

  • Focus on one task at a time. For example, while writing a report, close all other documents and browser tabs to concentrate solely on the report.
  • Use the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working on a single task for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute short break.
  • Use apps like Todoist or Microsoft To-Do to list and prioritize tasks.

#2. Constantly Checking Emails

Frequently checking emails interrupts workflow and focus. According to a McKinsey survey, employees check their emails on average every 37 minutes, disrupting concentration.

  • Only check emails once you have completed your highest-priority task in the morning. Eat the frog is an excellent technique to follow.
  • Batch your time to check emails, respond to them, and schedule the ones to be sent later. For example, 10 AM, 2 PM, and 5 PM (according to your work hours).
  • Use email filters to prioritize important messages, such as from your current client or boss, so you don’t miss anything urgent.

#3. Procrastination

Procrastination leads to rushed work, missed deadlines, and increased stress. It often results from a fear of failure or perfectionism, leading to a loss of up to 25% of your working hours at times.

  • Break larger tasks into smaller tasks with quicker deadlines.
  • Follow the Getting Things Done (GTD) method to avoid accumulating tasks on your to-do list.
  • Use Be Focused to set timers for short work sessions.

#4. Attending Unnecessary Meetings

Many meetings are poorly structured and lack clear objectives, wasting approximately 20-30% of your valuable work hours.

  • Seek meeting agenda and purpose in advance whenever possible. 
  • Use Clockify to track time spent in meetings.
  • Consider alternatives like email updates or 15-minute daily stand-ups instead of weekly hour-long discussions.

#5. Perfectionism

Striving for perfection leads to spending excessive time on minor details that do not significantly impact overall quality.

  • Learn to recognize when a task is “good enough” and move on. 
  • Accepting that initial versions may not be perfect but are functional and improvable later.

#6. Social Media Distractions

Social media can be a major time sink, fragmenting attention and wasting up to 2 hours daily on average. As per a study by UC Irvine, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain focus after every distraction. Imagine the loss of your productivity! 

  • Use Freedom or RescueTime to block distracting websites and monitor how much time is spent on distractions.
  • If necessary, schedule specific times for social media breaks, such as during lunch or coffee breaks. However, it would be great to engage in casual interactions with your team members to connect better instead.
  • Do not answer phones from unknown numbers during working hours. Instead, let them go to your voicemail.

#7. Lack of Prioritization

Without clear priorities, it’s easy to get bogged down by low-value tasks, leaving up to 30% less time for high-impact activities.

  • Implement prioritization techniques like the Eisenhower Matrix to focus on urgent and important tasks first.
  • Use the 80/20 principle to focus on the tasks that will generate the most significant results.

Here is what my not-to-do list looks like:

habits to stop in my not-to-do-list


Focus on completing critical tasks and prioritize your time. Avoid spending your entire weekend on emails. Do not use work to replace meaningful relationships and activities.

Productivity is not about doing more tasks in less time; it’s about doing the right tasks efficiently.

Surbhi Mahnot

When you stop these seven habits, you reclaim your time, reduce stress, and significantly boost your productivity. Embrace these changes, and you’ll see a tangible improvement in your working style.

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot is the owner of this blog. She has work experience of almost 10 years in the IT industry in varied roles. At present, she is working full-time on this blog. She is passionate about the importance of personal growth in individual and work life, which reflects in her writing too. Travelling, reading, and shopping are her core interest besides work.