Being ineffective is hard work.
It takes years of practice and a well developed set of habits. It requires daily repetition, dedication even. Even though ineffective people are so good at what they do, they don’t do it on purpose. It’s not their fault.
They just don’t know any better.
They are always in a rush, hurrying from appointment to appointment. Their lives are set on autopilot. Ineffective people simply don’t have the time to take a break, reflect and realize things are not the way they should be.
Of course you are not one of them.
You’ve probably read the famous time management book by Stephen Covey, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. It has been a cornerstone of productivity for over a decade and it has been translated in dozen of languages. It might even be the first book you ever read on time management (it was for me at least). You are waking up early, getting things done, keeping an inbox zero on a consistent basis and living a fulfilled life on your terms.
You are a high performer.
Just as you have habits that make you so productive and efficient, ineffective people have habits that make them ineffective. It is important to acknowledge the fact that habits are a two-edged sword and can be used to for good or for bad. It’s equally important to know what those “bad” habits actually are. This way, if they ever start peeking into your life and routine, you can recognize them immediately and have a plan of attack so you never fall pray of one of the 7 habits of highly ineffective people discussed below.
Habit #1 – Never have a plan
Ineffective people dislike planning. A lot. They don’t like it so much that some claim to be physically allergic to it.
If life is a big vast ocean, not having a plan is like being in a hand-made raft being bounced around by even the smallest waves that come your way. As as soon as a plan is made, even a small one, just for the day, the little raft transforms into a giant cruise ship that can withstand even the biggest of waves. A ship set for a destination and no amount of rough seas can stop it.
Not having a plan and being in reactive mode over an extended period of time leads to a feeling of disorganization, overwhelm, frustration and even depression. It is also not practical.
Habit #2 – Always be distracted
Ineffective people work in an environment full of distractions. If distractions were in fact living things, they would dream about living in “Ineffective Landia” where there are no laws and restrictions of any kind and they can do what they want, whenever they want to.
Ineffective people have their cell phones next to them at all times. They are constantly logged into social media sites, chat programs and, of course, their email. Everyone around them knows they can come and interrupt them at any point in time, whether it’s urgent, time-sensitive information or the latest gossip from Twitter.
Habit #3 – Multitasking is a must
Doing more than one thing at a time is a skill ineffective people pride themselves with. They are in fact both Olympic champions and hold the Guinness World Record holders in multitasking. In short, they are pros at it.
Ineffective people can talk on the phone, while answering emails, chatting simultaneously with 3 people on Facebook, preparing a presentation for next week’s meeting and of course keeping an eye out on Twitter – all this while alternating between eating a breakfast sandwich and sipping coffee.
Ironically, they are doing all of this in order to be effective and save time although science has proven that multitasking is in fact physically impossible. People cannot concentrate on two, or more, tasks at the same time. What they are actually doing is quickly switching from one task to the other, not allowing themselves to be engaged and pay full attention to either of them. As a result, they do a poor job on all.
Habit #4 – Procrastinate as much as possible
“I’ll start tomorrow” is the favorite phrase of ineffective people. In fact, if ineffective people were a company their slogan would be very similar to the Nike’s “Just do it” with one small variation – “Just do it (tomorrow)”.
The problem with tomorrow is that it never comes (in the sense of procrastination). If something is left for the next day, as means of not going it today, this routine will most likely be repeated over and over again. Procrastination leads to negative feelings of low self-esteem, overwhelm and a feeling of being always behind. When things actually get done, ineffective people don’t enjoy them as they feel everything was rushed and last-minute.
Habit #5 – Be proactive at wasting time
Ineffective people are skilled time-wasters. They are very efficient at doing the wrong things. Their days usually start with reaching for their smart phone as soon as they wake up and end with a healthy dose of television. During the day, ineffective people like to multitask and split their time between emails, social media sites and watching videos.
Habit #6 – Keep an inbox “double zero”
Inbox zero is a cute phrase ineffective people have heard their friends use on occasion. They know what it is, but are not quite convinced it exists. It falls somewhere between Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster.
Ineffective people like to maintain an inbox “double zero”, with at least 100 unread and unprocessed emails. They are subscribed to every newsletter there is, receive special coupons and discounts for things they don’t need and like to also get notifications from their various social media accounts. To keep up with the influx of emails they keep their inbox open all the time and are in constant reactive mode depending on the emails they receive.
Habit #7 – Don’t exercise (unless you really have to)
Ineffective people believe that physical exercise is only for dudes who want to get buff or for women who want to get skinny for the summer. They live with a deeply-rooted belief that they lack the time needed to exercise. After all, who in their right set of mind would give up 1 hour of TV or social media to hit the gym, especially when they don’t need to because they don’t want to get buff or lose weight?
As a result, ineffective people often lack the physical energy and vibrancy to be effective and productive. They rely on coffee and sugar for a quick boost of energy when they need it (which is typically all the time)
Over to you now
Being ineffective takes as much work as being effective, if not more. The big difference between the two is not the amount of effort or the amount of time (we all have the same 24 hours to spend). It’s having the right set of mind, the correct system and developing healthy habits that serve you instead of hindering your productivity.
Take 5 – 10 minutes each day and just spend them reflecting on how things are going and how you want them to go. Awareness is the ultimate difference between being effective and ineffective
Be aware, be bold, take action!
What other habits are part of the routine of ineffective people? Share in the comment section below…