Everyone has days where they feel like they got nothing done and like they can never get ahead. This could mean you have too much work on your plate, but it also could be a sign that you’re being inefficient during your day. To tell the difference, it’s important to be on the lookout for key red flags. Then once you identify the problem, you can begin to plan for a solution.
These nine professionals from Young Entrepreneur Council discuss some of the signs they keep an eye out for to determine whether or not they're being effective during their day, and the steps they take toward being more productive.
1. You’re Having A Slow Start To The Day
Getting a slow start to the day is one sign that you're not having an effective day. I find that having a to-do list of the top things I need to accomplish every day ensures that I start the day off focused and with purpose, minimizing the chances of getting a slow start because I already have my day planned out. – Diana Goodwin, MarketBox
2. You’re Feeling Hopelessly Overwhelmed
Do you ever feel hopelessly overwhelmed, even if your workload is average compared to most days? If so, you may be suffering from burnout, which directly relates to how effective you are during the day. If you find yourself feeling tired, distracted and generally unable to get things done, it may be time to take the day off. Use this time to rest so you can come back the next day ready to rock. – John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC
3. You’re Procrastinating And Getting Distracted
Procrastinating, getting distracted by random assignments or not being able to block an hour on billable work usually means that productivity is impacted. This is either caused by external factors (like lack of sleep) or improper planning. Making sure that you're in a good spot physically and mentally and that you have a solid daily agenda in place is crucial for squeezing in extra productivity. – Mario Peshev, DevriX
4. You’re Spending Too Much Time On One Task
A clear sign you're being ineffective is when you're spending too much time on any one task and obsessing about minor details when it would be better to delegate or move on to more productive projects. If I've been at something for a while, I find that it's helpful to step back and ask myself if this is the most productive use of my time. I might also ask a colleague's opinion or to help out. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
5. You’re Working Late Into The Evening
Unless it's normal for you, finding yourself working during the evening or nights typically means you haven't been efficient. I would start tracking where you spend your time and where it's getting wasted. This will make it easier to remove inefficient work or find a way to make a task easier. –Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
6. You’re Doing Too Much Task Switching
I know a day is ineffective when I am switching back and forth between tasks every 10 minutes. One strategy I use is to track my time throughout the day using Toggl. This way, I can see at the end of the day that if I had a bunch of 5-10-minute time slots then I was probably less effective with my time than I could have been. – Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
7. You’re Working On Too Many Things At Once
I know I am not being productive when I am doing six things at once. I have come to learn that that is my way of avoiding doing the work that needs to get done. When I catch myself doing this, I stop, refocus, determine the most important task of that moment, and only work on that. Though not always the easiest, all it takes is some focused attention. – Zach Binder, Bell + Ivy
8. Your Meetings Are Running Too Long
A sign I may be ineffective is when meetings are too long or I have too many in a day. I firmly believe in getting real work done, not just being in meetings all day. While meetings have their place, of course, if you find yourself in meetings all day, you won't actually be getting any real work done. This is a problem. Make your meetings more efficient, cut some out or spread them out throughout the week to be more effective. – Andy Karuza, LitPic
9. You Have No Action Plan For The Next Day
An ineffective day leaves you no action plan for tomorrow. I'm always hustling, but I do know the value of taking a step back and enjoying life and downtime for the sake of your own refreshed creativity and well-being. When you feel a day has become shapeless and ineffective, make a concrete set of attainable goals, then do the first one. Let the positive momentum build from there. – Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts