high ineffective people

The 7 Habits of Highly INeffective People

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.

What effective people have to say about it: plan your days in advance, preferably from the night before. Think on paper. Write things down. Have a to-do list manager and a calendar application that can tell you in just one short glimpse what your day is going to look like. Have a daily plan, a weekly one and most importantly, one for you life.

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.

What effective people have to say about it: create a distraction-free work environment. Each small disturbance that breaks your focus and attention costs you 21 minutes of lost productivity. Put your phone on silent, log out of all non-essential websites and programs. Schedule a time to check your email and take phone calls. Create a Do Not Disturb sign that tells people it is not a good  time to approach you. Work on one task at a time and don’t allow even your own random thoughts to interrupt you.

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.

What effective people have to say about it: single-task. Work in cycles of 45 – 50 minutes of work, followed by a short break. During each cycle concentrate on one big task and give it your full attention and creativity. This will not only allow you to accomplish the task at hand faster, but also give you a sense of achievement at the end.

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.

What effective people have to say about it: break things down into the smallest possible chunks and start taking action immediately. Read one page, run for 2 minutes, write one paragraph. Think of the smallest amount of action you can take. Cut it in half and start there. As soon as you make that first step, as small and insignificant it might look at the time, things will dramatically change. Commit to doing that smallest amount of action every day. Don’t think about the big picture, just get that minimum done.

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.

Between the 2.6 hours spent in email every day. The 3.2 hours of social media, and the 5.11 hours of TV per day, ineffective people don’t have enough time to actually get the important things done.

What effective people have to say about it: read this blog post and save 396 minutes per day with minimal effort

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.

What effective people have to say about it: schedule 3 email checks per day. For each dedicate 20 to 30 minutes and process all your emails using these 5 possible actions. Unsubscribe from as many “bacn” emails as possible. Disable instant notifications on your phone and other devices and always log out from your email when you are done with processing your messages.

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)

What effective people have to say about it: physical exercise, especially in the morning, provides an elevated amount of energy for the entire day. If lack of time is an issue, go for a quick interval training or a HIIT workout (some of them are as short as 8 minutes while providing a great boost of energy). Physical exercise does not have to be vigorous in order to be effective. The simple act of walking or tacking the stairs can give you a great amount of physical energy and mental clearance. For optimal results, get a fitness tracker to help track how active you are.

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…

  • http://akalifehacking.com Pascal Genotal

    Very interesting post Kosio. Although I aspire to improve my productivity practices, there are moments I can recognize myself in some of these habits. We can’t be continuously high performers!

    • http://www.highperformancelifestyle.net/ Kosio @ HighPerformance

      Thanks for reading, Pascal! I think anyone can recognize themselves in at least a few of the habits. Some of them came from personal experiences of mine :)

  • Sadiq Bala

    I really love this

    • http://www.highperformancelifestyle.net/ Kosio @ HighPerformance

      Happy to hear that Sadiq!