We’re all looking for faster, more productive ways to work, but sometimes our positive intentions can override practicality. In other words, what sounds like a good idea at the time can quickly turn into the worst idea ever.
However, we often don’t know what a good idea looks like until we try. Taking risks is important -- buying down risk is better. There’s a fine line between smart and stupid, and sometimes our motivations can make that line a little blurry.
Make sure you’re on the right side of the line by avoiding these seven workplace beliefs:
1. "Let's work through lunch so we can leave sooner."
The reality is, when you work through lunch you find yourself not only hungry but angry and cranky later on, falling into what’s known in the medical profession as “hangry.” OK, this may not be a medical term, but it should be.
2. "I’m just going to check email real quick."
Just as there's no such thing as one beer, there’s no such thing as "real quick" when it comes to email. It takes time to open email, read through it, compose your thoughts and assemble them into one cohesive message, not to mention reviewing that email before you hit "send." If checking your email is a must, set a limit of how many you will review and stick to it.
3. "I’ll follow up with you later."
Sure you will. This is essentially the same thing as saying, "I'm going to procrastinate as long as possible because I don't want to do [task]." Timing is of the essence and sometimes you do need to wait for others.
If you're the one waiting for a response, be sure to identify a deadline for when said person will get back to you by. Doing so creates commitment and accountability.
4. "If I arrive early into work then I’ll leave early."
Not gonna happen. Not unless you’re the boss and you set your own hours, because let’s face it, you’re not going to be the guy or gal who leaves at 2 p.m. while everybody else is working just because you arrived before the sun came up.
5. "Let’s grab just one drink after work."
There’s no such thing as “just one drink.” Going through BUD/S (Navy SEAL training), there was a saying that was constantly pounded into our heads (take that as you may): “Two is one. One is none.” In other words, always have a backup -- for everything. Strangely, drinking is no different.
6. "I think I’ll utilize the boss’s open-door policy."
This isn’t a good idea either. Even though bosses lay claim to openness to hear everyone’s gripes and issues, the reality is whatever you say to your boss won’t be forgotten.
Cognitive biases (mental shortcuts) inhibit our decision-making because we’re unaware of their influence, and saying to your boss, “I think we can be more productive by …” isn’t likely to disappear after you leave his or her office. I’m not saying ignore the issue, just find another avenue to solve it.
7. "I’ll just file this under miscellaneous and come back to it."
Yeah, right -- along with the 800 other files and emails categorized under the universal “miscellaneous” tag. This is similar to bookmarking webpages to peruse later. Want to know how many “favorites” I have saved in my browser? Probably close to a million. Want to know how many I actually visited? Maybe five.
The bottom line is nothing beats now. Save procrastination for later.