Improving productivity is a favorite goal for business owners across every industry. It’s a perfectly admirable goal, but not one that’s always easily attainable. After all, those less-than-productive habits that you’re trying to undo have been ingrained in you and your staff for years and years. It’ll take a great deal of effort to change them in the long run.

Even so, if you want to really nail that goal this year, a good place to start is figuring out what those wasteful habits are.

Old Habits Die Hard and Also Lower Productivity

Not all old habits should be flung to the wind, but some definitely need to be brought into check. These are often so innocuous that you don’t even realize what time wasters they are.

Here are a few of the most common among companies like yours:

  • Planning too many meetings or meetings with no agenda. Meetings are great when they’re productive. But so many are just a group of people rehashing stuff that was discussed at the last meeting. Plan a meeting when you need to discuss something and have an agenda for it. Otherwise, send an email.
  • Failing to have a plan to attack the day. It’s hard to know where to start if you don’t have a list of things to do. Prioritizing them ahead of time makes it easier to know where everyone is supposed to be and when.
  • Not asking the right questions. When your team isn’t asking questions, there’s a good chance that they’re wasting a lot of time looking for answers that other members could readily supply. Encourage employees to ask questions to speed up their learning and ensure that everyone’s on the same page.
  • Obsessing over email. There’s not a person in the business world who hasn’t been guilty of this one at some point in their career. Instead of making a big deal out of it, impose email blackout times, for you and the whole team. Make sure that no one can answer or check email but once an hour, or during certain times of the day. They’ll find that they’re more productive and less fidgety with email off their minds.
  • Refusing to delegate. Too often there are jobs that someone else can do just as well as you can, but you or a member of your team is having a hard time letting go. Case in point, your telephone answering. You can easily partner with an answering service company to free you from the distraction of a constantly ringing phone.
  • Micromanaging projects. You hired each member of your team because you trusted their abilities. In turn, they work together with that same level of confidence. When you or other members of the team slip into micromanagement, not only does it kill productivity, it can squash creativity and the spirit of people working on that project.
  • Refusing to take breaks. This is the classic productivity killer. Taking breaks gives you a chance to recharge your batteries and approach problems that might have been practically unsolvable without a change in scenery.

Your team is good, but it could be truly great if you can break some of the bad habits that are lowering your collective productivity. These seven are a great place to start, but spend some time examining your processes, you may find other places that could be tightened up that can also reduce the stress your team feels every day.