Every day in our personal and professional lives, we seek to accomplish goals by completing specific responsibilities usually consisting of multiple tasks. While the basic aim is to complete each task, the bigger goal is to do so in an exceptional manner, achieving results of the highest standard.
Our goal is to master productivity by executing assignments in a timely manner with unmatched excellence. To this end, we must be aware of those things that may hinder our productivity. This is so we can take the necessary steps to bypass them or prevent them from becoming obstacles.
Here are seven reasons why we are sometimes not as productive as we want to be – and to stay on track and realize our desired outcome.
Why You’re Not Productive
Procrastination is one of the BIGGEST productivity roadblocks. Yet it is something that you and I do way too often.
I remember when I was in college, I would know way ahead of time (weeks or even months) if I had a paper due. But I found myself burning the midnight oil to get it done the morning before I had to turn it in.
I usually got it done. But looking back, the result most likely would have been of better quality had I not waited until the last minute. Instead, I was rushed, stressed, and tired, just trying to get it done. If I had slowly worked during the time that I had, I would have finished earlier and produced top-notch quality.
No matter how old or how experienced we get, we all have the tendency to fall back into the cycle of procrastination. We need to overcome this by planning and setting realistic expectations.
2. Lack of Planning and Setting Unrealistic Expectations
Ah yes, lack of planning and setting realistic expectations is a combination that can sink our productivity rating. Our expectations of how long a task will take, its complexity, and the inputs/resources required to complete them can result in low productivity if those expectations are unrealistic.
For example, if I expected to write this blog in one sitting without collecting any information, outlining the areas to cover, or acquiring real-life examples to share, the result would likely be a piece that has no substance and provides very little (if any) useful information.
We must be realistic. Work smart by considering not just the result, but also identifying and acquiring the essential elements needed to get to the desired result. We must be committed to delivering quality results based on real expectations – not wishful thinking.
3. Lack of Commitment
When we don’t feel dedicated to the success of a task, our productivity is likely to be negatively impacted as well. It’s easy to disengage when we don’t feel – or can’t envision – how the results of an effort will benefit us.
If we are not committed to doing the best we can at everything we are tasked with, then we threaten not only our success but the success of those who rely on us (e.g. employers, children, etc.).
Athletes that get to stay at the top of their game do so because they are committed to being the best. They don’t just dream about and talk about it. Every day, they work, plan, and stay invested in what they are doing.
They stay prepared physically and mentally because they understand that challenges will come. Being in the best shape will help them to stay the course and perform even under difficult circumstances.
4. Physical Well-Being
Our physical health contributes greatly to our ability to be productive. This isn’t just about disease or health conditions. Our physical well-being depends on the steps we take today to help uplift our minds and bodies.
When we are in good physical condition, we have the energy and interest to give our full effort to everything we do. But when our health is threatened, we lose the zest to work hard and produce outstanding results.
While it’s true that coming down with an illness or disease is out of our control, taking charge of what we eat and how we treat our bodies can help us be in the best shape possible.
5. Mental and Emotional Well-Being
Our state of mind keeps us prepared to take on and accomplish tasks. If our state of mind is threatened, we can’t be as productive as we want to be. Our mental and emotional well-being play important roles in our ability to achieve goals.
If we are stressed or if we’re currently dealing with emotional concerns, it can be difficult to concentrate, maintain a desire to do anything, or have the will to achieve. Additionally, stressful situations often lead to poor, quick, or emotional decisions (i.e. not based on good reasoning or facts).
Think about it: if we bought our houses or chose our careers without calmly reviewing our options, needs, interests, and resources, the expected outcome would be less than desirable most of the time.
In fact, we would find ourselves trying to fix what we messed up! Our productivity would be severely impacted. We must be aware of our state of mind and emotional well-being by listening to ourselves and others.
Let’s keep the lines of communication open with our loved ones so they can point out concerns to us. Allow yourself to share or reach out for help instead of dealing with stress and emotional issues alone.
6. Unwillingness To Delegate
One big deterrent to being productive is taking on too much – individually. I’m always reminded of the lyric of a song I learned at a young age, “No man is an island, no man stands alone.”
We often think we achieved success, accomplished goals, or produced high-quality results by ourselves. But in reality, we had help along the way.
To be as productive as possible, we must be open and willing to delegate tasks and assignments. We can’t do everything and be everywhere at once to complete a large-scale effort.
Learn to depend on others and be willing to assign or delegate tasks. Be comfortable in giving those individuals the power to carry out those assignments.
By enlisting help, we are less inclined to deal with stress or the emotional upheaval that comes with the avalanche of tasks we need to face. Share the joy by distributing tasks and leaning on others. This helps us get things done quickly and often, more effectively.
When we find ourselves with overlapping meetings for a project, one easy thing to do is delegate and then follow-up. This will help us stay on schedule and get specific results.
Delegation requires give and take, listening, and communicating. But it is a great tool and alternative to staying on course while still delivering quality outputs.
7. Not Listening/Poor Communication
Communication is a critical component to being as productive as you can be. Written exchange of information, verbal interactions, and the ability to actively listen are key components to achieving the level of productivity we desire in order to be successful.
Information provides direction of what is needed, how they’re needed, when they are needed, where they are needed, and who needs them. If we are unable to get that information or provide it, we will find our efforts stalled or delayed.
If we don’t listen and understand what is being asked of us, then it’s unlikely that we’ll get to deliver the expected results. It could mean repeating the task or handing it over to someone else. Thus, the project timeline and quality are negatively impacted.
If the information we gave or received is incomplete, what we deliver will be lacking or incomplete as well. It’s unlikely to perform well when we don’t know what is required or needed.
Avoid Roadblocks by Focusing on Productivity
The seven (7) elements we reviewed demonstrate the importance of preventing or avoiding barriers to productivity. Focusing on productivity means focusing on being the best, delivering quality as well as quantity.
Productivity speaks at the pace at which we can build, create, complete, or accomplish tasks and assignments with quality results. So it’s not simply about getting things done but also about getting things done exceptionally well.
We can stay as productive as we want to be by:
- Staying energized and avoiding procrastination,
- Planning and set achievable goals,
- Staying committed (accepting responsibility and accountability),
- Keeping our minds, bodies, in the best possible condition,
- Checking in with our emotions,
- Leaning on others when needed, and
- Listening to others and sharing relevant information.
When we take these steps, we set the stage for efficient, accurate, and effective work – which demonstrates the true essence of productivity.
**Bonus** Here are some additional tips for maximizing your productivity during the summertime, from Andrea Madho, Co-Founder, and CEO of LAB 141.
1.) Stack morning business meetings in a park, ideally one that has free wifi. I will often schedule 3 or 4 meetings at Bryant Park before noon, it’s a beautiful location to get work done, and enjoy some fresh air.
2.) I always carry an atomizer with water and a drop or two of essential oil to mist my face and keep my skin hydrated in the heat. It’s also great for plane travel.
3.) Catch up on business books by reading paper versions during the summer, over the ear headphones can get a bit too warm when listening to audiobooks.
4.) When on vacation, check-in with your team for only 10 minutes around 3 pm by phone, not email (which can suck you in!). This way you can hear about the day’s issues, but still have time to solve any real problems before Happy Hour!