Three Reasons Why You Fail to be Productive

Published 16. Aug. 16

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Personal productivity defines how well your resources and results are balanced. In other words, how to best use your energy. There are multiple reasons why people are not as productive as they could be. The three main mistakes are:

by Sini Vikkula

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Procrastination

As Plato said, the beginning is the most important part of the work. However, that is something we usually try to avoid, especially when the task is unpleasant or difficult. If you are regularly carrying out less urgent tasks or doing more pleasurable things in places of less pleasurable ones, you can call yourself a procrastinator.

So, should you be worried? Some procrastinators are proud of their tendency to postpone things until the final deadline. It gives them the energy, they say. Ultimate deadline and panic surely pumps up adrenaline, but it makes your life stressful and unpredictable. That is the reason why many procrastinators end up being underachievers.

What to do? First step is a good planning. Second is prioritizing your tasks and putting them in order. Be aware of not using your time in planning instead of doing. The simple list is better than complicated and comprehensive plan. Good trick is split your goals into a series of small, manageable tasks that are easier to carry on. Circumstances and timing surely matters. Create a habit of starting your work day with the most unpleasant or difficult task in your list and free your mental energy. Eat the frog first.

Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking used to be the synonym of efficiency. Recently, researches have proven that our brains are not wired to do multi-tasking. In fact our brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time. Doing multiple things at the same time only slows them down as the brain needs to switch from a task to another rapidly.

Constant switching is satisfying in short term as we feel that we have accomplished something.  The feeling can be very addictive. However, multi-tasking may lower you IQ by 10-15%. In the long run, it ruins the efficiency and ability to concentrate. New research suggests that cognitive damage associated with multi-tasking may be permanent. Scary, isn’t it?

How to avoid the trap of multi-tasking? There is no single solution. Our modern life is full of distractions. A good starting point is to notice when you are multi-tasking. To help avoid it, start to plan your day in blocks and concentrate on one thing at a time. Take breaks between blocks, breathe, and stretch. Reserve some concentration time without distractions. Support your new habits by limiting checking emails and social media. Practice the act of being present.

High-Stress Level 

Stress is not always an enemy, but there is a strong evidence that continuous high-level stress reduces productivity. Employees suffering from high-stress level have lower engagement, higher absenteeism levels, and are less productive. It is easier said than done to avoid stress. Stress is often related to the workload and circumstances at your workplace. But it is also related to the way you think and behave.

Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing stress. Overall healthy lifestyle, good diet, sound sleep and regular exercise improves your ability to cope with stress as well as close social connections.

At the workplace, cultivate your planning and time management skills,  and learn to say no. When facing challenges, try to observe them as an outsider, explore multiple point of views, and focus on things you can influence on.

Finally, do not perform 100% all the time, hard work needs to go hand in hand with fun and recreation!


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