If you want to be truly successful, say goodbye to these 7 productivity-killing habits

Let’s get something straight: for most people, success is not achieved overnight. It’s a product of consistent efforts, smart decisions, and, crucially, the right habits. 

But some habits can act as invisible chains, holding us back from reaching our full potential. 

Often, it’s simply not about needing to do more but rather about needing to let go of certain things that hinder our progress. 

If you aspire to be successful, it’s time to bid farewell to these seven productivity-sapping habits. 

Let’s get to it. 

1) Procrastination

Ever found yourself delaying tasks that you know are important, telling yourself that you’ll do them ‘later’? 

Welcome to the procrastination club, a place where tasks are always pushed back and ‘later,’ so often, never really comes. Procrastination is one of the biggest productivity killers. 

It also leaves us with that sinking feeling. When we procrastinate, those tasks remain in the back of our mind constantly pulling us down and stopping us from being able to fully unwind. 

Ready to stop being a member of this club? 

Enter James Clear and his best-selling book Atomic Habits. I have read countless books on productivity, and none have been as valuable as this one. 

The book is packed with practical tips backed up by research, but if I were, to sum up my biggest takeaway, it’s that we should focus on building easily repeatable and consistent habits rather than relying on our motivation to achieve goals. 

As Clear puts it, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

The holidays are just around the corner. For those of you hindered by procrastination, gift yourself a copy. 

2) Multitasking

Have you ever tried to juggle multiple tasks at once, believing it was making you more productive

I’ve been there too. I remember a time when I would have 40+ tabs open on my computer, trying to answer emails while working on a project and also making plans for the weekend. It felt like I was getting a lot done. But as you probably guessed, I wasn’t. I’d finish each day drained with little to show for it. 

Here’s the truth: Multitasking is a mirage. It makes us feel like we’re accomplishing a lot when, in reality, our productivity and quality of work are taking a nosedive. 

Research shows that our brains aren’t wired for multitasking. By constantly switching between tasks, we’re actually wasting time and diluting our focus.

If you want to boost your productivity, it’s time to break up with multitasking and embrace focused, single-tasking. 

3) Neglecting self-care

Jim Rohn, the renowned author, and entrepreneur, once said, “Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.” 

That’s all well and good but you might be wondering, what does this have to do with productivity? 

A lot more than you might think.

Neglecting self-care is a productivity killer we often overlook. We push ourselves to work longer hours, skip meals, and cut back on sleep in the name of productivity. 

But in reality, these actions are counterproductive. When we don’t take care of our physical and mental health, our energy levels drop, our focus wanes, and our overall productivity suffers.

Don’t believe me?

You don’t have to. 

A Stanford study backs this up. Researchers found that those who work 70 hours a week get no more done than those who work 55 hours a week. That is, if you are in that 70-hour-a-week group, you might be better off using those 15 hours for self-care. 

Additionally, work overload is one of the main causes of burnout. If that’s not a productivity killer, I don’t what is

For those of you who really want to be high achievers, I know it’s tempting to try and push on through. But prioritizing self-care isn’t optional; it’s essential. Make time for regular exercise, adequate sleep, proper nutrition, and hobbies. 

4) Lack of planning

Picture this: You walk into your office on a Monday morning, sit down at your desk, and dive straight into work without a clear plan. You’re busy all day, but by the end of the day, you feel like you haven’t really accomplished anything substantial. Sound familiar?

This is what happens when we don’t plan our days. It might seem boring or time-consuming, but it’s a game-changer for productivity. As Benjamin Franklin told us, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”.

Lack of planning leads us to be busy rather than productive. We end up working reactively rather than proactively, often causing us to spend our days putting out fires rather than making progress toward our goals.

By prioritizing tasks, setting clear objectives for the day, and breaking down big projects into manageable steps, we can make the most of our time and move steadily toward success.

5) Constant distractions

According to a study by the University of California, Irvine, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task at hand after being distracted. Now, think about how many times a day you’re interrupted by a phone call, an email notification, or a chatty colleague. 

I’ll bet those distractions add up to a significant chunk of your day! They disrupt our flow, make tasks take longer than they should, and lead to mistakes. 

It’s essential to create a distraction-free environment. This might mean turning off notifications during work hours, setting boundaries with colleagues or family members, or using tools and techniques to stay focused. 

Whatever it means, find a way to minimize distractions. 

6) Perfectionism

Striving for excellence is great, but when it morphs into perfectionism, it can actually hamper our productivity and success. 

You see, perfection is an illusion. It’s important to aim for progress, not perfection, and understand that making mistakes is a natural part of the process. 

Why’s that?

When in a perfectionist mindset, we spend too much time on tasks and obsess over minor details at the expense of other important work. We may also delay starting a project due to fear of not doing it perfectly.

By letting go of the need for everything to be perfect, we can complete tasks more efficiently and move forward. 

7) Neglecting breaks

In our rush to be productive, we often neglect the importance of taking regular breaks. We may feel that working through lunch or skipping that coffee break will give us more time to complete our tasks. 

However, this neglect can actually decrease our productivity over time.

Research has shown that regular breaks can improve mental agility and creativity while reducing stress and fatigue. They allow us to refresh our minds, regain focus, and come back to our tasks with renewed energy. 

Whether it’s a short walk, a coffee break, or just a few minutes of deep breathing, do it. Stepping away from your desk from time to time might be the most productive thing you can do.

The bottom line

Becoming more productive isn’t just about doing more; it’s about doing what’s necessary and doing it well. 

By saying goodbye to these seven productivity-killing habits, you pave the way for better focus, efficiency, and, ultimately, success. 

Change doesn’t happen overnight. But with consistent effort, you will see some. 

Until next time. 

Mal James

Mal James

Mal James Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business. As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys. In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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