Fast Fixes for the Bad Habits That Are Killing Your Productivity

By: Matt Byrom

If you often find your mind wandering at work, or you’re prone to getting stuck in a YouTube cycle—don’t worry, you’re not alone. The Internet is a vast rabbit hole that can lure even the most focused away from the task at hand.

There are tons of bad habits that kill productivity, and we’re all guilty of at least one of them.

In this article, we’re going to list five of the worst, but also include solutions so you can kill those bad habits and be productive once more!

1. Being Tempted by Technology

Most of us need access to the internet, and maybe our smartphones, to do our jobs. However, with that constant access, it can be very tempting to Google the name of that song that’s stuck in your head, or quickly scroll through your Instagram feed.

Although it can feel harmless at the time, these little interjections of procrastination can be harmful to your productivity. One minute here and two minutes there may feel harmless. But all of this wasted time adds up.

According to a recent survey, 39 percent of employees spend one hour or less browsing non-work related websites every week, 29 percent spend two hours per week, and 21 percent waste an entire five hours per week.


To avoid being tempted by technology, try writing a list of all of the things you were going to search for online. This way, you can get them out of your mind and focus on the task at hand.

It may also be a good idea to turn off your smartphone’s WiFi during working hours (unless, of course, you need it to complete your work!)

2. You Don’t Eat Right

Skipping meals or hitting the drive-thru may make you feel more efficient, but the time you save will only be wasted later in the day as you become less and less productive.

The truth is, junk food gives you an instant energy spike, but this is very short-lived and is followed by a long slump. In contrast, if you eat healthily all day long you are 25 percent more likely to have a higher job performance.


No matter how far behind you are in your work, you should always make time to have a healthy lunch. Lunch is always best eaten away from your desk too. A change of scenery can have a huge impact on productivity.

If you want to know more about exactly what you should be eating to boost your productivity, check out this infographic.

3. Putting off Difficult Work

This is one bad habit that is hard to overcome. After all, it’s human nature. Think about when you were a kid: if you had a chocolate bar and a banana in your lunchbox, the chocolate bar would most likely get eaten immediately, and it’s likely you ate the banana when you got home and faced questioning from your Mom.

We tend to get easier tasks out of the way first — at least that’s what we tell ourselves. But researchers have found that people have a limited amount of willpower, and it decreases throughout the day.


The only solution for this is to grab a strong coffee in the morning and get stuck into your most difficult tasks.

You can also further improve your productivity by creating a routine for yourself. This way, you’ll know which tasks need to be completed when, and you’ll be less likely to put work off.

4. Hitting the Snooze Button

This is another bad habit that we are all guilty of. Five more minutes may seem like a good idea at the time, but many studies have found that fragmented sleep is much less restorative and leads to sleepiness-related daytime impairment.

So, by breaking up those last thirty minutes of sleep, you’re more likely to perform poorly during the day. You can learn more about the science behind the snooze button here.

The truth is, to be at your productive best you need a good seven or eight hours of sleep a night. A 2015 study of 21,000 British workers found that people who slept less than six hours a night were significantly less productive than those who slept for seven or eight hours.


The solution for this is simple: go to bed earlier and set your alarm later. By setting your alarm for the time that you actually need to get up, you will not only reduce your need for the snooze button, but may even eliminate your use of alarms altogether.

Getting up at the same time is great for your biological clock — and you may end up waking naturally every morning, instead of waking up to a horrible beeping sound.

5. Multitasking

I know what you’re thinking:

Multitasking doesn’t kill productivity; it’s great for productivity!

Actually, multitasking is not what it’s made out to be.

By focussing on multiple tasks at one time, we only give partial focus to each task. Our brains push the main focus towards the ‘multi,’ rather than the ‘task,’ meaning we drain our mental resources by constantly changing our thoughts. This makes multitasking surprisingly counter-productive.


The solution for multitasking is quite simply: stop. Or at least try to. You can break your routine of multitasking by creating a to-do list at the beginning of your day. Allocate a certain amount of time to each task and try to focus on only that task during the allotted time.

This may seem daunting, particularly if you think you have too much to do in your day. However, you will find that giving your full attention to a task will boost your productivity, and more often than not, get the task completed quicker than planned.

Final Thoughts

We all have bad habits — and being productive isn’t easy. Our minds are ticking away all the time, and we are expected to juggle more tasks than ever at work. But hopefully, these tips will help you kill those bad habits and focus on being more productive than ever.

Think we missed anything? Let us know your best tips to increase productivity!

4 Books Which Are “Must Reads” For Professionals

If there’s one common denominator that a lot of successful people share, it would be them taking the time to invest in themselves.

For one thing, they read books—lots of them! Mark Zuckerberg made it his New Year’s resolution to read a new book every other week with the intent of learning different histories, beliefs, cultures, and new technologies.

At this point, you’re probably wondering how he’s taking the time to read so much despite how busy he is running such a massive company, so what kind of excuse do we have for not reading?

Let’s Get Started

I hope you’re pumped to start reading. Here are 4 books I believe are must-reads for professionals.

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People (1937) by Dale Carnegie

This book may be old (and the oldest book on this list by nearly 50 years), but many of its ideas are timeless. Carnegie’s book was one of the first best-selling self-help books and has sold over 15 million copies today.

How to Win Friends and Influence People is broken into different sections based on subject and offers advice on human relations. While some of his lessons may appear obvious, this book provides relevant insights on how to make people like you more and how to convince people to change their habits or thinking to be more in line with yours.

2. The 4-Hour Workweek (2007) by Tim Ferriss

Unfortunately, this book doesn’t offer advice on how to work only four hours a week and make a living. Without a lot of extraordinary circumstances, you’re going to have to work more regular hours like the rest of the population.

What The 4-Hour Workweek does offer, however, is sound advice for the modern era. Some of Ferriss’ most important lessons are cutting back information intake to better focus on your work, a concrete example that Ferriss offers is checking email only twice a day, and how conquering fear can be beneficial to efficiency in the workplace.

3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989) by Stephen Covey

A best-selling self-help and business book that has been translated into 34 languages, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People details the, you guessed it, seven elements that make a successful individual.

The steps are broken into three sections: dependence, independence, and interdependence, and the lessons range from how to be proactive and take steps one at a time to how to engage other people by finding win/win situations and understanding others first.

4. Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever (2010) by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried

Hansson and Fried challenge the way people can be successful in their book Rework. The two are the founders of 37signals, a successful software company that has defied conventional business models for over 15 years.

Their book shares the secrets behind their own success and details why long-term plans are harmful, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. While initially sounding counterintuitive, the more you read the more these two make a strange kind of sense.

If You’re Not Getting Paid, You’re Getting Played: 3 Signs Your Potential Client Is A Moocher

By: Shanon Achimalbe

I want to share a problem I commonly see with new attorneys starting a solo practice: coddling the tire kicker. For those who have practiced for a while, they know how to deal with them. But this problem arises because most new solo practitioners have little to no business sense – especially those who are forced into it – and have to learn the hard way.

You receive a call from a potential client. Over the phone, he is friendly and the two of you quickly establish a rapport. So being the nice guy that you are, you provide the potential client a free consultation and quote him a price for your services.

He thanks you for your help and says that he respects your time as a lawyer. But he asks if can meet you again over lunch to discuss his case and clarify a few things. He offered to pay for lunch at one of the nicer restaurants in town. You agree on the condition that he signs the attorney-client contract after the meal. Being the nice guy that you are, you order the second least expensive dish in the menu and a glass of water. During lunch, the two of you discuss his case at length, even giving him some very detailed advice that could solve his problems. After lunch, he says he trusts your judgment but insists on taking the attorney-client contract home to review before he signs and sends you the money.

The potential client does not call back. When you call to follow up, he says he is still reviewing the contract but wants to ask you if a certain law may apply favorably to his case. You sense from his tone of voice that he was not as enthusiastic as before. You are not feeling as nice as you did before and want to demand payment. But you don’t want to anger him and risk him leaving you for someone else, especially after all of the time you invested and free advice you gave him. So you answer his question but you insist on payment before you continue. He agrees and profusely apologizes for taking up your time.

You wait for his call but he never calls back. Some time later, you give up, get upset and wonder what went wrong. Why didn’t he hire you even though the two of you got along so well?

Here is the answer: You didn’t get paid because you got played.

Potential clients know they have a choice. Thanks to the glut of attorneys, there are hundreds of attorney advertisements on the media and the internet. He may have even received several referrals. So they call each one until they find someone who will answer their questions without charging a fee.

To be fair, some potential clients may not know that they are playing you. This is because new attorneys give clients too much free information before asking for payment. But I partly blame this on many attorney advertisements offering free consultations. When potential clients think free consultations, they think that it means the attorney will solve their case for free. To fix this, I think lawyers should stop using free consultation on their advertisements and replace it with free case review.

A self-employed attorney who has been in business for a number of years can sense a tire-kicker within the first few minutes of a phone call. They will graciously tell these moochers to beat it and take their faux-business with them. New attorneys either don’t or will give a lot of leeway and end up getting played for two reasons.

First, they’re new, hungry and desperate for clients. They talk to clients at length because they have nothing else to do.

Second, they are naive. They think that every potential client is a good person and will pay on time, every time. They think that they are just driving a hard bargain. They do not understand that most potential clients calling out of the blue are seeking to milk as much free information from attorneys as possible. It will take hours of unproductive phone calls, several missed appointments, fee disputes and possibly a bar complaint before new attorneys figure this out.

So is there a surefire way to know if a caller is a moocher? Of course not. Every caller is different. With experience and learning some harsh truths about human nature, it will be easier to tell who is playing you. But usually, these are some warning signs:

1. The caller’s first question is, “Do you offer free consultations?” or “How much do you charge?” This suggests that fees are the primary thing on the client’s mind.

2. At some point in the conversation, the caller says, “I’ve been talking to a few people about my problem…” If you were the third, fifth or 99th attorney the client called, this raises multiple red flags. But in the context of getting paid, the caller may be shopping around to see who charges the lowest fee.

3. The client continually reminds you about how broke he is. In some cases, potential clients contact attorneys because they are in a financially dire situation. But when they use that as an excuse for being unable to pay your fees, then you should politely tell them to contact someone else.

I understand that it’s hard to turn down a potential client who can’t afford to pay you. It seems morally wrong to do so. You hear anecdotal stories and countless humblebrags bar magazine articles about an attorney helping a client for free who later referred the multi-million dollar client. Because as you know, wealthy people love to associate with those with legal and financial problems, right? In reality, these karma moments are rare, which is why they are featured feel-good stories.

But sooner or later, new attorneys will have to learn to tell clients to pay up or shut up. It gets easier with time. You might miss a good client or two but you will also avoid countless headaches later. So get paid or get played.

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The Top 10 Geographic Markets Where Women And Minorities Succeed In Making Partner

According to the 2014-2015 NALP Directory of Legal Employers report, in 2014, women accounted for 21.1% of partners in the nation’s major firms, and minorities accounted for 7.3% of the partners in these firms. In 2013, the figures were 20.2% and 7.1%, respectively. This study includes attorney race and gender information for over 111,000 partners, associates, and other lawyers in 1,056 offices, and for almost 6,300 summer associates in 758 offices nationwide. So where in our country do women and minorities succeed the most in making partner?

Here are the top 10 markets with the highest percentage of women partners (with percentage of women partners indicated parenthetically):

  1. Denver (28.1%)
  2. Detroit area (26%)
  3. San Francisco (25.7%)
  4. Seattle area (25.4%)
  5. Minneapolis (24.9%)
  6. Miami (24.4%)
  7. Ft. Lauderdale/W. Palm Beach (24%)
  8. Wilmington (23.8%)
  9. Milwaukee (23%)
  10. Portland, OR area (23%)

Here are the top 10 markets with the highest percentage of minority partners (with percentage of minority partners indicated parenthetically):

  1. Miami (29.5%)
  2. San Jose area (15.3%)
  3. Los Angeles area (13.8%)
  4. Orange Co., CA (13.2%)
  5. Austin (12%)
  6. San Francisco (11.9%)
  7. Houston (9.9%)
  8. Seattle area (9.4%)
  9. San Diego (9.3%)
  10. Northern Virginia (8.5%)

We know that diversity returns a premium on every conceivable level. So what makes markets like Denver, Detroit, Seattle, and the Florida region better than average at promoting gender equality in the partnership ranks? What makes Miami, the California area, Austin, and Seattle better than average at promoting diversity in the partnership ranks? Why are there considerable variations in measures of racial diversity amongst partners in the 40 cities represented in the directory?

One reason, no doubt, is that there is a difference in the minority representation within the general population of these various markets. However, minority representation within law firms is not necessarily parallel to, and has never accurately reflected, minority representation within the overall population of an area. Furthermore, normalizing the data so that we can properly evaluate the disparity in racial representation amongst partners in different regions still fails to address why there is such a noticeable discrepancy in female representation amongst partners in these regions.

Hopefully, we are not one hundred years away from gender equality in the partnership ranks of the legal profession. Diversity and inclusion have a long way to go in our industry, but at least some markets are beginning to make headway in these areas. We are now in the fourth quarter of 2015. What has your firm done this year to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession? More importantly, what do you plan to do to address these issues?

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Have Friends, Will Succeed: How Your Private Life Affects You at Work

Developing a network of “friends” underpins the Facebook business model. Arguably, this has resulted in a cultural deterioration of the meaning of the word “friend,” with people (particularly those of a certain age considerably south of 40) claiming they have a lot of friends, even though they’ve never actually interacted with many of them off-line.

Interestingly, research shows that employees who maintain a diverse range of friends (actual people they meet, talk to and go out with) rank higher on key performance indicators than those who are more solitary.

Jeb Grabmeir cites Ohio University professor Steffanie Wilk in saying, “Your friends outside of work actually have this connection to how you behave in the workplace, through the shaping of your relationships on the job.”

The more diverse your relationships outside of the job, the more likely you are to develop similarly diverse relationships among coworkers. Why is that significant? Business News Daily reports that a recent study conducted by Wilk and University of Akron professor Erin Makarius found that employees with diverse friendships were graded higher by their superiors in certain work-related performance metrics; moreover, these employees had more trusting and productive relationships with their bosses.

Friends, Just Not at Work

That’s not to say that those with more diverse friends outside of work necessarily have more friends at work, just better working relationships. Indeed, Adam Grant argues in The New York Times that while work was once a major source for friendships, it’s now taking a back seat. He attributes this to a number of factors:

  • Employment is no longer a lifetime, let alone long-term, proposition. Job hopping is no longer seen as a negative thing (in fact, it shows you are seeking new challenges), and a first tactic for employers during economic downturns is to reduce staff.
  • Greater reliance on contract and temporary workers who come and go to work on short-term projects. Coworkers are viewed as transitory, deserving of civility, but not full-fledged camaraderie.
  • Increasing adoption of a virtual workforce based from home that infrequently, if ever, interacts in an office.
  • Similarly, growth of flextime in which colleagues work at different schedules, which limits their daily interaction and promotes a “get down to business” attitude.

Another argument posed by Jonathan Fields is that if a friendship deteriorates outside of work, the people involved just stop interacting with one another. Not so on the job, where, Fields says, “friction in a personal relationship could translate to trouble, loss of morale or inefficiency in the workplace.”

Friends At Work: Not Such a Bad Idea

Penelope Trunk, on the other hand, maintains that, “People with one friend at work are much likely to find their work interesting. And people with three friends at work are virtually guaranteed to be very satisfied with their life.”

But what about employers? Should they care about whether their workers are friends? Shouldn’t they only be concerned about whether they do their jobs?

Consider the experience of a plant manager who strove to encourage employee relationships beyond just working together, as reported in Vital Signs by Tom Rath:

At first…the men thought she was a bit crazy—the way she talked about how they should care for each other and develop friendships…She established a social fund that gave employees money for outings with their coworkers and family members…After a few months, she could see things changing at the plant. The men were having more casual conversations, and a few even looked like they were enjoying their jobs…The team’s performance, as measured by ‘line speed,’ or the average number of units produced in a day was increasing rapidly as well. The plant’s customer complaints were down 50 percent from the previous year.

As TechRepublic notes, building employee morale is key to positive employee interaction that contributes directly to a company’s bottom line. It’s what used to be called “team-building.”  Ways to build teams and productive friendships among workers that are equally productive for employers, include:

  • Hold regular company socials, both during and after work hours.
  • Promote friendly contests, such as football pools and ping-pong tournaments.
  • Encourage community service projects.
  • Recognize people for their work, even if it’s just a “shout-out” that someone did a particularly good job (though distribution of a gift card might also be nice).
  • Ask employees what is going on in their jobs, accept feedback and make changes if needed. Employers don’t need to be friends to their workers, but creating a friendly and open atmosphere is certainly a good idea.

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7 Healthy Habits That Maximize Your Productivity Every Day

Adapted from an article written by: Adam Toren

7 Healthy Habits That Maximize Your Productivity Every Day

Lawyers usually keep a densely packed schedule that fits as much work as possible into their waking hours. There’s always something else to be done and more you’d like to achieve, so how do you keep your day running efficiently without being overrun by the demands on your time?

There are some tricks I’ve learned over my journey that have served me well in running my day successfully. Not every day will stick to the routine, but if you commit to practicing these steps daily, you’ll get better at keeping them over time.

1. Start your day the night before.

The night before is really when your new day begins. I’ve found over the years that by approaching bedtime with a routine I can effectively start the next morning with all systems go. Begin by ensuring you know what’s on the calendar for the following day. Go over appointments, calls and any other important deadlines in the day so you have an awareness of what’s on the agenda.

Next, get anything you need in the morning set aside and ready at night. Bag packed, if you bring lunch — then lunch made and ready to grab, gym bag all set up to go, etc. Make sure whatever you need in the morning is as easy as grab and go.

Finally, set yourself up for sleep success. Make sure you turn off all electronics that could beep, buzz or light up during the night and disrupt your sleep.

2. Move first thing.

Getting out of bed and making your body move gets the blood flowing and the brain synapses connecting again. If you aren’t in the habit of moving first thing when you get up, this may feel a little strange at first but trust me, it works. Even if you aren’t a morning person, grab your gym bag and hit the gym or put on your shoes and walk your dog for 30 minutes. Fresh air and movement start your body and your brain off on the right foot for the day. You’ll have more energy and a clearer head when you’re done.

3. Tame your brain.

Meditation or mindfulness practice is an essential workout for your head. It only takes 10 to 20 minutes in the morning to adopt a practice that can really help you effectively manage your day, and your life. Meditation is proven in study after study to help you deal better with stress and improve the fluidity of your mind, meaning you have a more adaptable brain.

Work your head out every morning with some kind of mind strengthening exercise. Try the Headspace app for a free introduction to what mindfulness and meditation can do for you.

4. Get help with staying organized.

If you aren’t an organized or punctual person, get the help you need to become one. This can be with an organization app like Trello, WorkFlowy or Evernote, or by hiring someone part time to assist you with task, time and calendar management. If you want an efficient day then you need to be organized.

5. Remember to eat.

Your body and your brain need fuel. Don’t forget that food is an important part of the day’s routine. This sounds simple but so many times lawyers run themselves into the ground, skipping meals and forgetting to eat, only to grab the quickest (and often unhealthiest) thing they can eat on the go. Don’t fall victim to this trap. Snack frequently and remember to eat the right kind of healthy, nourishing food you need to stay energized all day.

If you struggle, there are snack prep delivery options like Nature Box or home delivery healthy meal prep options like Blue Apron where literally everything you need for dinner is delivered to your door.

6. Batch your time.

Time batching is an efficient way to get the uninterrupted productivity time you need. Ensure that there’s at least one hour, preferably two, of batched time for you to problem solve, think, brainstorm and otherwise handle the work you need to do without being disturbed. It’s a highly efficient way to get a lot done in small bursts of productivity.

7. Disconnect from work.

Last but not least, when you leave work in the evening, try to disconnect from work. This may be less important when you’re still young and single, but it becomes a crucial lifestyle practice when you have a partner or a family. Your time outside of work greatly contributes to your time at work, so give your significant other and family the focus and attention they need and leave the office work at the office.

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Crossword: It’s a Stretch

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Three Words that Should Be Banned: Work-Life Balance

By: Jeena Cho

When I lead workshops on reducing stress, anxiety, and increasing productivity, a topic that often comes up is the idea of work-life balance. Often, the participants will express feeling like they’re failing at both work and life. When they’re at work, they often feel as though they should be home, spending time with their significant other, spouse, or children. When at home, the reverse is true. They think about all the work left undone.

I’ve also had my share of going to CLEs on having work-life balance where the speaker will give a list of 10 or so things that will magically make work and life perfectly balanced. It will often include tips like make sure you make time for yourself and go to the gym regularly or ways to manage the Inbox for increased efficiency.

Fundamentally, I believe the concept of work-life balance is flawed. It suggests there is work then there is the rest of of your life, and you must balance the two so that they can co-exist in a symbiotic relationship. Often, this mythical balance is suggested as though if only you can manage your to-do list better, work more efficiently, work faster, and do more, you can have it all. And if you can’t have it all, or do it all, you’re a failure. I think this lie we tell ourselves that work-life balance is possible if only we work harder at it is destructive. It just gets added onto the ever growing list of things we should be doing, things we should be good at.

I’d like to suggest a different way of thinking about work-life balance. Instead of work-life balance, strive for a balanced life. We shouldn’t pit work against life because after all, life encompasses work. What we do for work is intimately related and a part of our life. Balance doesn’t mean you spend precisely 8 hours at the office, 8 hours at life, and 8 hours sleeping. While in many ways, that would be ideal, let’s face it, few of us live in this magical world where we can neatly divide time spent at the office and at home into nice, neat fragments.

What a balanced life look like is different for each person. I work from home 2-3 days per week, so I don’t start work at 8:30 and clock out at 6:30. In fact, this type of work setting — where you report to an office for 8 or 9+ hours — is becoming less common thanks to technology.

Rather than having nice, neat compartmentalized segments, life is looking more like a soup or a salad bowl full of all the different activities that make up this thing called life. Today for example, I’m writing this post in the morning, then I have lunch with a dear friend, followed by tea with an attorney I connected with through Twitter. In between these activities, I’ll likely check my email and respond to client matters. After that, I’ll spend some time doing “work,” then go to Bikram Yoga.

So, how do we cultivate a balanced life? First, recognize that this isn’t something you can achieve, check off your to-do list, then forget about. It requires consistent attention, effort, and practice. Each of us gets 1,440 minutes per day. Having a balanced life is allocating those very precious minutes so that it feels harmonious to you. Only you can know how to best allocate those minutes so that your life feels balanced.


Ask yourself: Who are the important people in my life that I want to spend time with? What is the difference I want to make in the world? At the end of my life, what is the legacy I want to leave? What brings joy into my life? What do I want to learn? What am I curious about?

Once you gain some clarity around those things you want to put your time and attention on, ask yourself what are the distractions or things I need to let go of? The fact is we can’t have it all. At least not at the same time. So, we must prioritize.

If you’ve been struggling with work-life balance, give yourself the permission to let go of the struggle. Consider ways of making your life more easeful so that your life feels more balanced. It can start with your perception — by letting go of all the shoulds. Start paying attention to your life and continually ask yourself, “Does my life feel balanced?” If not, make small course adjustments and align what you do to your intention!

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