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3 Common Mistakes That Are Destroying Your Productivity Learn how you can optimize your mental performance for productivity by avoiding these three common mistakes.

By Portia Asli, P.Eng., MBA Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • A very common mistake entrepreneurs make is working 50 to 80 hours per week to get through their high workload.
  • When you improve your productivity the right way — by avoiding these mistakes — you improve your overall health and well-being.
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Do you feel like you've put in all those hours but don't have the expected results to show for it? Do you simply wish you could be more productive? As a founder and mental performance coach, I have helped busy entrepreneurs increase their productivity with simple, sustainable, evidence-based actions.

Here are three common mistakes I see busy entrepreneurs make that reduce their productivity and waste time. And how you can avoid these mistakes.

Related: 9 Productivity Mistakes You're Making in the First 10 Minutes of Your Day

Mistake 1: Working long hours

Is your workload so high that you get overwhelmed by thinking about it? Entrepreneurs come to me for help because a neverending mountain of work exasperates them. And they want to work more efficiently and effectively so that they can reach their targets faster.

One of the common mistakes I see entrepreneurs make is working 50 to 80 hours per week to get through their high workload. If you have done that, you have likely realized this method of getting work done isn't sustainable. In fact, research by Stanford University supported that your productivity declines after 50 hours of work in a given week. Another research showed that working anything beyond 40 hours per week has contributed to burnout.

I have helped my clients optimize their mental performance to get more done in less time without working long hours. One of the processes I take my clients through is conducting a data-driven assessment of their workload to remove unnecessary mental burdens. This process is so effective because it helps to sharpen your focus, create the cognitive space for value-driven work and gain back time for strategic activities to grow your business faster.

Review your workload to identify what is necessary to achieve your target; otherwise, you cannot succeed without it. Through this assessment, you have three realizations. A small portion of your work that only you can do and is the best use of your time, effort and abilities. A good portion of your work can be eliminated, as they are time wasters and non-value driven. Another portion of work you can do but is not the best use of your time and instead can be delegated or outsourced. This data-driven assessment is one of the key contributors to helping my clients go from working 10-14 hours per day to 8-hour days.

Related: The No-Excuse Approach to Sleep and Work Performance for Entrepreneurs

Mistake 2: Poor eating patterns

Have you experienced this: a few minutes into a task requiring deep thinking, and your mind gets distracted? You have probably noticed these little distractions steal your precious time. The day ends, and you wonder where the time went. An article by Global News highlighted that you lose 2 hours of work per day due to these distractions. This is another reason entrepreneurs optimize their mental performance: to be more productive by improving their mental concentration on brain-intensive tasks.

The brain's prefrontal cortex is responsible for holding concentration and filtering out these distractions. One of the common mistakes I see entrepreneurs make is having eating patterns and behaviors that prevent their brains from filtering out distractions. An eating habit that constantly gives them a glucose crash. Poor eating habits make you have difficulty focusing, paying attention and poorly managing time.

As a mental performance coach, I have helped my clients see over 400% increase in extended sustained concentration on a single task, which enabled them to multiply their productivity. One of the methods that I use to help my clients is to balance their glucose levels through nutrition intervention. A balanced glucose level lets you concentrate on a task longer and produce results-driven outputs in less time. One of the ways to keep your glucose levels balanced is by eating plenty of fiber with every meal. Nutrition intervention is one of the key contributors that has helped my clients improve from an average concentration of 10 minutes to more than 60 minutes.

Related: 12 Ways to Eat Healthy No Matter How Busy You Are

Mistake 3: Being indoors all the time

Do you try to sleep, but you cannot fall asleep? Do you wake up in the middle of the night unable to fall asleep? If so, you have probably noticed how challenging it was to do mentally intensive work after a night of poor sleep. Even research has shown that just a loss of 1.5 hours of sleep results in a 32% reduction in alertness at work, such as slower recall in client meetings and costly errors. Another reason entrepreneurs come to Optimyzed Brain is to help them improve their sleep for performance and productivity.

One of the common mistakes that entrepreneurs make that prevents them from falling asleep and staying asleep is being indoors for nearly 20-24 hours of the day. Their lifestyle keeps them indoors, which hinders their sleep and mental performance.

I have helped busy entrepreneurs who were getting 4-5 hours of sleep to get consistent 7-8 hours of restorative sleep — even if they have struggled with sleep for a long time. A small change I've helped my clients implement is getting sunlight first thing in the morning. Sunlight helps the brain produce serotonin, a precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin. Daily sunlight is a crucial contributor to falling asleep and staying asleep.

In summary, you can get more out of your work hours by increasing your productivity. Assess your workload periodically to prevent working long hours, balance your glucose levels for extended concentration, and ensure you get sunlight first thing in the morning for better sleep. As a mental performance coach at Optimyzed Brain, I have seen how simple small changes to workstyle, nutrition and lifestyle can help entrepreneurs optimize their mental performance for productivity. When you improve your productivity the right way - by avoiding these mistakes - you also improve your overall health and well-being.

Portia Asli, P.Eng., MBA

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder & CEO of Optimyzed Brain

Portia Asli is the founder of Optimyzed Brain and a licensed engineer helping entrepreneurs and executives optimize their brains for high performance.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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