productivity killers

15 productivity killers and how to overcome them

Do you find yourself constantly getting sidetracked by distractions and interruptions? You’re not alone. Many people struggle with productivity killers that prevent them from achieving their goals and completing tasks efficiently.

Understanding productivity killers is the first step to overcoming them. From social media to email notifications, there are countless distractions that can pull you away from your work and disrupt your focus. In this article, we’ll explore the most common productivity killers and provide you with strategies to overcome them. By the end of this article, you’ll have the knowledge you need to boost your productivity and achieve your goals.

Identify your peak productivity hours

Peak productivity is the point at which you achieve the maximum level of productivity, and it is specific to each individual. It’s not the same for everyone, but most people find that their productivity peaks during certain times of the day. Try working at different times of the day to see when you feel most productive. For example, try working in the morning, afternoon, and evening to see which time of day works best for you.

Here are some signs that you may be at your peak productivity:

  • You are working at your optimum speed and feel challenged without being overwhelmed.
  • You are completely focused on your task and feel a sense of flow.
  • You clearly understand the task and the necessary steps to accomplish it.
  • You are able to prioritize and allocate your time effectively.
  • You are feeling energized and engaged with the task at hand.

Identifying your peak productivity hours is an important exercise that can help optimize your day. It’s about understanding when you are most alert and capable of performing tasks that require high levels of concentration and creativity.

15 most common productivity killers

Before we can overcome productivity killers, it is crucial to identify them. Here are the most common productivity killers that are slowing you down.

1. Mindless scrolling

A habit that can take up a significant portion of your day is mindless scrolling, which frequently occurs on social media or websites. It involves aimless browsing, getting lost in never-ending streams of content, and wasting time that could be used for more meaningful tasks.

woman scrolling on instagram

2. Distractions

Frequent distractions, whether from noisy environments, incoming notifications, or simply wandering thoughts, can disrupt your workflow. They make it difficult to stay focused on your work and can reduce productivity as a whole.

woman on leather couch working at a laptop while browsing her phone

3. Perfectionism

While striving for excellence is admirable, perfectionism goes too far. It’s the tendency to obsess over every detail, often leading to overthinking and delays in completing projects. Perfectionists may find it difficult to move on from a task until they believe it’s absolutely flawless.

an exhausted woman reading documents

4. Self-doubt

Self-doubt can be a constant companion, causing hesitation, insecurity, and a lack of confidence in your abilities. It can be related to specific situations, general fears, or worries that something might go wrong. If you doubt your abilities or the success of a task, you may delay doing it or avoid taking action altogether.

man leaning on wooden table

5. Negative self-talk

Negative self-talk involves a constant stream of self-criticism and self-defeating thoughts. These thoughts can range from mild self-criticism to harsh and judgmental thoughts, making it challenging to tackle tasks with a positive and productive mindset.

young troubled woman using laptop at home

6. Disorganization

Being disorganized is having a lack of structure, organization, and consistency. This can include a messy and disorganized workspace, a disorganized schedule, disorganized files, or a general inability to stick to a plan or organize tasks in a structured way. It can also mean not having a system, routine, or plan in place for dealing with tasks, and instead approaching tasks in a more spontaneous manner.

a person writing on a notebook on a messy desk

7. Poor time management

Effective time management is crucial for productivity. Failing to allocate your time wisely can lead to missed deadlines, rushed work, and an overall decrease in your ability to accomplish tasks efficiently. You might find yourself spending too much time on minor tasks or not enough time on high-priority tasks, leading to unfinished responsibilities, missed deadlines, and other problems. 

a confused businessman checking time on wristwatch

8. Procrastination 

Procrastination is the habit of delaying tasks or decisions that need to be addressed. This can hinder productivity because you are not using your time effectively and aren’t making progress toward your goals. Delaying tasks causes them to take longer to complete, leaving you with less time to concentrate on other, more crucial tasks. When tasks are delayed, they often take longer to complete, leading to missed deadlines and poorer quality work.

stressed woman using a laptop with her feet on the table

9. Excessive multitasking

Attempting to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously may seem like a time-saver, but it often results in reduced focus and efficiency in each task. Whether it’s switching back and forth between different tasks, trying to do two or more things at the same time, or continuously checking social media while working on other tasks.

a woman holding a cellphone and typing on a laptop

10. Poor health and burnout

Neglecting your physical and mental well-being can have a severe impact on productivity. When your health is poor, you don’t have much energy to do things. It’s hard to focus on work and get things done. Burnout is another way of saying you feel stressed and tired because you have been working too hard. When you feel this way, it’s hard to get things done effectively and you’re more likely to make mistakes.

a mug, eyeglasses, tissues, and used tissues on a table

11. Uncomfortable workspace or environment

A workspace or environment that is uncomfortable or not conducive to productivity can be a constant source of distraction. Examples include a noisy or distracting environment, a toxic workplace, discomfort or pain caused by your workspace or furniture, a lack of natural light, poor ventilation, and too much or too little temperature. When you work in an uncomfortable workspace or environment, it can be difficult to focus and stay motivated.

tired woman rubbing her eyes

12. Gossiping

Engaging in workplace gossip may provide momentary entertainment but it can quickly become a significant productivity drain. Gossiping can result in a loss of focus, reduced morale, and a more uncomfortable or stressful work environment. When time is spent gossiping instead of working on tasks or other responsibilities, deadlines are missed or extended. 

a woman wearing white top talking to a woman wearing blue long-sleeved top

13. Lack of personal boundaries

Failing to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life can lead to constant distractions. It becomes challenging to focus on work when personal matters intrude and vice versa.

People pleasing and being afraid to say no are examples of a lack of personal boundaries. It means putting others’ needs and wants above your own, regardless of how you feel or how it affects you.

stressed elderly woman holding her head

14. Lack of motivation

Lack of motivation is a feeling of reluctance or disinterest toward achieving something. It can be a lack of encouragement, excitement, or enthusiasm. It can be a combination of low interest, energy, or effort, and a lack of drive to perform a task or take a particular action. A lack of motivation can lead to inefficient use of time and difficulty concentrating.

a woman in white sweatshirt sitting on chair in front of her laptop

15. Unclear goals

When goals or objectives are unclear, it can be difficult to know what to do or where to start. It can mean you waste time and aren’t sure where you’re going. Leading to feeling confused, frustrated, and behind schedule because you don’t make the most of your time.

a woman in pajamas looking at her laptop with her arms resting on the cushions

15 ways to overcome the productivity killers 

Productivity killers can be a major obstacle to achieving your goals. Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome them. Here are ways to improve your productivity and get more done.

1. Set clear and realistic goals

Having clear realistic goals gives you a sense of direction and a way to measure progress. It also makes it easier to prioritize tasks and stay motivated, as you know exactly where you are heading and what you need to do to get there. Clear realistic goals also help you identify areas of improvement and can help keep you on track, as well as ensure you’re prioritizing the right tasks to meet your objectives. 

woman holding white paper with graphs

2. Prioritize self-care

Self-care ensures you are mentally and physically prepared for work. It involves maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which directly impacts your ability to stay productive. When you are well-rested, well-nourished, and physically and mentally healthy, you can perform at your best and get more done in a day.

woman in black activewear doing yoga on a tree trunk

3. Practice mindfulness

Being mindful helps you be present in the moment and pay attention to what’s happening around you. When you are mindful, you can better understand your priorities and focus on the task at hand. Mindfulness can also help you handle stress and other challenges that can come during the day, allowing you to stay productive and avoid burnout. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and deep breathing, help you stay present and avoid wandering thoughts. 

calm woman in lotus pose meditating at home

4. Practice positive self-affirmations

Positive self-talk promotes self-confidence and motivation. This, in turn, helps you combat self-doubt and negative self-talk, which are common productivity killers. Practicing positive self-affirmations can also help you approach your work with a more positive attitude.

sticky notes on glass wall

5. Set healthy boundaries 

Establishing boundaries between work and personal life helps you manage your time more effectively. When you set healthy boundaries, it means you make a decision about what you can and cannot do, and set limits on the amount of time, effort, and energy you are willing to give to a particular task or project. This can help ensure you do not overcommit or take on too many responsibilities, leading to burnout and decreased productivity. 

a man and woman having conversation while sitting in front the table with laptop

6. Take breaks

Contrary to popular belief, taking regular breaks boosts productivity. Our brains need periodic rest to recharge and refocus. Whether it’s a quick walk outside, a stretching session, or a few minutes of deep breathing, these breaks can help us restore our energy so we can be productive throughout the day.

a woman crossing the road while biting a sandwich

7. Surround yourself with positive and supportive individuals.

When you are surrounded by positive people, you are more likely to feel inspired, motivated, and encouraged to make the most out of your day. They can help you counteract the negative effects of unproductive colleagues or environments and help you stay on track toward your goals.

happy colleagues working together

8. Prioritize tasks in order of importance

Effectively prioritizing tasks is crucial to overcoming productivity killers. When you prioritize your tasks, it’s easier to complete them in a timely manner and maintain your productivity throughout the day. Identifying the most important and urgent tasks and tackling them first ensures you are always working on high-value activities, avoiding the trap of time-wasting distractions.

a woman taking notes at table with laptop and cup of coffee

9. Set clear deadlines for tasks and stick to them

Deadlines create a sense of urgency that keeps you focused and on track. When you have a deadline to meet, you are more likely to complete work in a timely manner and avoid leaving tasks until the last minute. It can also help to improve your work quality, as you have a fixed amount of time to complete the task and are more likely to pay attention to details. 

a woman holding a red mini clock in front of the desk with a laptop

10. Set screen time limits

Reducing digital distractions is crucial in today’s tech-savvy world. When you set screen time limits, you can avoid getting distracted by your phone or screen-based activities and focus more on your work or other productive tasks. This prevents the time-consuming habit of mindless scrolling or social media checking.

a woman in street typing on her phone

11. Unfollow

Clearing out digital clutter by unfollowing or muting unproductive or irrelevant accounts can significantly reduce the time you spend on distractions. This helps you focus more on your own goals and priorities. Unfollowing accounts that are not important to you can help you to better prioritize and allocate your time to the things that you care about and want to achieve.

close up photo of a person holding cellphone with instagram app open

12. Declutter digitally

Digital clutter can be just as distracting as physical clutter. Start by clearing out your email inbox by deleting old messages or archiving them into folders. Unsubscribe from newsletters or mailing lists that you’re no longer interested in and set filters to automatically sort new emails into appropriate folders.

Organize your computer files into folders and subfolders, making it easier to find what you need quickly. Delete any files or programs you don’t use regularly to free up space on your computer. You can also use cloud storage services to store files and collaborate with others without clogging up your computer’s hard drive.

a woman looking at her laptop in the dark

13. Optimize your work environment

Optimizing your workspace can help you be productive because it can create a comfortable and efficient working environment. Investing in ergonomic furniture, noise-canceling headphones, and other ergonomic items can help to reduce fatigue and stress, which can improve concentration and productivity. 

a well-lit workspace with dual monitors, laptop, and a coffee cup on the desk.

14. Try the Pomodoro technique

Managing your work in focused intervals, like the Pomodoro technique, can enhance your efficiency. The Pomodoro technique involves working in 25-minute bursts with 5-minute breaks in between. During your 25-minute working sessions, you focus solely on the task at hand, and during your 5-minute breaks, you can take a walk, stretch, or reset your mind. This structured approach helps you avoid productivity killers such as multitasking and prolonged periods of unproductive work.

a black twin bell alarm desk clock on table beside a laptop

15. Delegate tasks

Recognizing when to delegate tasks can save you valuable time and energy. When you delegate tasks, you can focus on tasks that you are good at and let others take care of tasks that they are better suited for. Delegating tasks can also help you stay organized, as the work is not all on you to manage. By doing this, you can use your time and resources more effectively, allowing you to focus more on the tasks that truly need your attention.

three women work together on a laptop in a shared space

Final thoughts

Productivity is essential for success in both our personal and professional lives. It allows us to accomplish more in less time, stay focused, and achieve our goals. However, there are numerous productivity killers that can derail our progress and leave us feeling overwhelmed and unproductive and that is why it is important to be aware that we are doing them.

Productivity killers are all around us, but they don’t have to hold us back. By being aware of these distractions and taking steps to overcome them, you can increase your productivity and achieve your goals more efficiently.

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