I always feel busy. When I’m not even that busy getting anything “done”, I still feel busy. When someone asks me, “How does your week look?” it would be a personal affront to my career and my image to say, “I don’t really have much at all to do.” However, when I really look at each and every one of my weeks, I see that I do a lot of shit that does not matter.

Do as I say, not as I do.

Stop doing this…

  1. Overprepping rather than preparing. If someone says, “I really don’t need a more elaborate slidedeck/brochure/presentation if you don’t have one”, don’t spend your time putting one together. The person just said that they ultimately don’t care. Nothing says that you don’t listen and don’t value your own time more than doing exactly what they said not to do. Spend more time fostering that relationship and seeing what that particular person is trying to solve.
  2. Making introductory sales calls to people on Monday morning or late Friday afternoon. Nothing says “I have no concept of anyone’s priorities besides my own/my dad said the early bird gets the worm” more than a Monday morning call to an executive. Nothing says “I love checking activities off lists without ever getting anywhere” more than a Friday 4 pm call.
  3. Messing with a well trained team. I constantly bother my team…getting in their business and thinking that I know better. I don’t. The last time I knew better was when I hired them and put them in charge of what they do now.
  4. Getting sucked in to the black hole of Internet knowledge. I love learning, and I legitimately read more in one month now than I EVER read in 4 years of college, but there are times when I honestly wonder whether I really needed to learn that much more about the history of conversion forms. At some point, there is diminishing utility (yes, I did make it out of that college).
  5. Making meetings longer than they have to be. I hate meetings; everyone hates meetings. However, sometimes I feel like my worth as a ‘leader’ might be directly tied to how long I can espouse “wisdom” on one Monday morning. If that Monday’s meeting is only 15 minutes long, am I only ¼ as wise as I thought? Perhaps, but my team is 300% happier and more productive.
  6. Thinking that you have to be in the office for the company to run or for the world to continue turning. I hate to admit it, but my company runs better when I’m traveling. It’s strangely exhilarating and simultaneously a feeling of complete obsoleteness.
  7. Thinking that your way is the only way or the best way. The number of times that I have caught myself questioning the way something was scanned and sent to a client or about the color of the blue ink in a logo…really? As many greats (probably Greek philosophers) have said, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Pick when it will matter.
  8. Concentrating on an ever growing to do list and never purging. Evaluate and edit your to-do list frequently and cross things off that don’t matter because they will crowd the things that actually do. The things that matter are typically tied to your goals and milestones (plus the random but necessary chore). However, if you think activities equal accomplishments, you will work with an empty hole in your soul. I know, because I’ve been there. Move the car, don’t just rev the engine. If you’re in the engine revving mode, take the rest of the day off. You’re just burning valuable gas that you may need for a real journey.
  9. Checking your email more than a couple of times a day. No explanation here needed besides Refresh…refresh…refresh…refresh.

What’s on your “sh*t to stop doing NOW”  list?

P.S. If you want to be more productive, you might also like this post that my colleague, Amanda Butterworth, wrote on the best free time management apps. It’s been so hot right now on our blog.

Alexandra Gibson is the Managing Director for OttoPilot Media, a digital marketing firm in Washington, DC.  She wrote her first business plan at age 11…she’s been entrepreneurially intolerable since then. Be sure to follow her on Twitter- @gibsondm