Productivity: Nine Things Productive People Don’t Do

productivityProductivity seems to always be on the minds of business leaders. Our days are filled with appointments, deadlines — and often, distractions come knocking.

In a recent post on, Bill Murphy, Jr., co-author of Breakthrough Entrepreneurship, says what you DON’T do, is just as important was what you DO do, when it comes to increasing your daily productivity.

Micromanaging your Calendar: Keeping and maintaining a calendar is important, but don’t let it control you. It’s easy to spend hours trying to sort out your schedule and task list without actually accomplishing anything.

Delegate ownership of your calendar and appointments to an assistant, virtual or in-house, so you can focus on strategic business decisions, and get big projects started and finished.

Buying Stuff Online: Whether it’s gifts for clients or employees, “…just about any online-shopping task can be handed off — even if you’re not comfortable turning over your credit cards to an assistant, you can at least ask him to her to narrow down your choices. This same applies to making travel arrangements,” says Murphy.

Finding a House or Apartment: This one might seem out of sorts, but it can come up in the day-to-day of any business leader. Assign interim decisions to an assistant, and make them your primary point of contact to arrange appointments and funnel questions.

Initial Research/Inquiries: “Outsourcing the first steps of research or outreach on any project is a great habit,” says Murphy. When all the research and results are presented to you, you’ll be better equipped to make a well-informed decision based solely on the merits.

When business leaders get intimately involved in the research phases, they can become emotionally attached to the process. Assigning the early phases of any project requiring research and analysis to members of your team, can help you remain impartial and objective when it comes time to make a final determination about next steps.

Cleaning: “The time you spend on straightening your office could likely be spent more productively on your business.” You’ve hired or contracted service providers to keep your business running smoothly, so let their expertise and experience rule the day.

Commuting and “Taxiing”: “If you think you’re being productive during your commute, you’re fooling yourself.” This is especially true if you’re spending that time behind the wheel.

For business leaders in urban areas, public transportation allows for a bit more productivity during these times, but even navigating shifting schedules can derail even the most seasoned traveler and daily commuter. While travel is never completely unavoidable, planning for the unexpected can keep you on track.

Keeping in Touch: “Of course you want to spend time with friends and family, but do you really need to go back and forth nine times with Aunt Sally about who is going to bring the potato salad to the family reunion?”

Leave scheduling and event planning details in the capable hands of an assistant.

Administrivia: “Whether you’re the boss running a huge organization or simply a person trying to be more productive,” administrative paperwork and reports are all prime examples of tasks that can be handed off to other members of your team.

Anything you’ve Procrastinated Doing: Is there a task that has been on your to-do list for weeks that you’ve haven’t crossed off yet?

“One of the most revealing tests…is whether you dreaded doing something or put off addressing it. Is it worth it to you to have someone else do it, while you focus on more productive tasks? If so, hand it off,” says Murphy.

What things do you avoid to be more productive?