Habits Productivity

5 Dreadful Mistakes Which Kill Your Productivity

By Olivia Ryan on 22 September 2018

Much has been discussed about productivity in recent years. We have seen time and time again that there are many factors which negate any productive intentions you might have. These can be external factors, like anything from noise, all the way to sleeping in.

While there are many aspects of productivity you can’t influence, our main obstacle is usually a mistake we can choose not to make.

To help you get to where you want to be, we’ve selected 5 of the deadliest sins that threaten your productivity. Changing your habits may be a daunting task, we know. Try implementing these corrections one by one, and you’ll see your results skyrocket.

1. Not having a “border” between your working hours and free time

This mistake is a common thorn in the side of freelancers, entrepreneurs and just about anyone in the world. While people who work typical 9-5 hours find it more difficult to err this way, it can still happen.

So, what is the crux of this mistake? Initially, this mistake starts off as a coping mechanism initiated by your brain. When you have a lot of work to do, the mind starts suggesting an “ingenious” way to try and traverse the obstacle in front of you.

It tricks you into believing that dragging out your work will make it easier. Piece by piece, the puzzle should be assembled in some time, right? Absolutely not.

Letting your work pour into your free time is about the biggest mistake you can make. Not only will you find work much harder, but stretching out something that must be done can have consequences for your health, too.

The thing is – we need free time. Free time gives our minds and bodies the necessary chance to recover from a long day. While most people try to bypass the definition of free time, it’s only free if it’s completely free. No projects, no work-related emails, no meetings and no conference calls.

By stretching out your project and letting it interfere with your free time, you strip your body and mind of valuable rest time. Be disciplined. The sooner you finish your work, the bigger and better your free time will be.

2. Not having enough free time

While this mistake is closely related to the first one, it’s also inherently different. What are the factors behind this human error? In the core of this conundrum is one nasty habit – observation of others and comparing yourself with them.

mistakes that kill your productivity

This includes watching what other people do on social media, as well as immersing yourself in too many motivational videos and quotes. The only competition you have is yourself, and there is no point in trying to overwork yourself.

Free time is essential for good performance. It gives your brain the time to store all the information you’ve dealt with, as well as recover and gain additional energy. A functional life relies on productivity, but it doesn’t exist without you doing the things you enjoy. There is no need to listen to anyone else, organize your day and have a limit on how much you work.

You may think that working a little bit more will help you, but the consequences will be felt shortly after. Two more hours at the office mean two fewer hours of rest, which means less productivity in the future.

The key to forming a good daily routine is to simply stick by it. If you feel like working more, why not use that energy to take up a sport or read? Being “in the mood” for something, in particular, is an illusion. You have energy, and you can allocate it any way you want.

3. Not knowing how to say no

How to say no

This silent killer doesn’t subside if you let him into your schedule. He only gets stronger and stronger until you’re stripped of your productivity. When we asked both students and professionals about what is their biggest urge when they have to work, they all answered – “to spend time with friends.”

Especially when there is an unenjoyable project going on, relaxation seems more enticing than usual. This creates a problem because you will rest even though you don’t need it. It’s just your mind trying to escape a dull activity.

When faced with an invite, a call or a message, don’t answer right away. If you receive a proposal to go out or to do something else you’re not supposed to, think about it. Do a simple calculation in front of the mirror. You are just subconsciously trying to escape an activity that is either too repetitive, too easy or too hard. How can you combat this problem?

The answer is just saying no. If you aren’t sure about continuing with your work or not, make a priority list. Until all the important things on your list are crossed off, relaxing is not an option.

4. Failing to accept failure

When working towards a goal, failure is actually amongst the least time-consuming things. Believe it or not, setbacks of any size are merely a minute’s worth of time. What does consume time, however, is pondering about your failures?

Worrying over what could have been or what could you have done differently can hinder your progress. Just tell yourself – you can’t change that. It’s impossible, according to the laws of physics, to return in time and change things.

So, how should one think if faced with a big failure? Make a simple comparison between you now and you before the mistake. Which version of you has the most knowledge? The answer is the present you and the future you will be even wiser and more methodic with that knowledge in mind.

Act like the mistake never happened. You will get a free warning alerting you never to make the same mistake again. If you find it hard to combat those thoughts of regret – why not try and tell people about your mistake. That way, you will feel liberated, and you can educate others around you.

5. Too much time on social media

You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? The disease of the modern era, social media turned from a valuable communication means to a productivity killer.

Well, social media on its own is not a disease nor a killer, it’s our lack of moderation that brings us down time and time again. It’s just a coincidence that social media is the most addictive things there is.

Instead of quitting cold turkey, sit down and ponder. Out of all the time you spend on social media, how much of the time are you improving yourself?

It’s most likely a low percentage, to be honest. From time to time, you can have a meaningful discussion or read a cool article sent to you, but most of the time – it’s rubbish.

If you love chatting and posting images on Instagram, for instance, there is nothing wrong with that. For starters, limit your social media time to 15 minutes every two hours. That way, you can have a chat and see all the updates.

The next time you want to spend hours on an app or website, your mind will recall the time you were more productive without using social media. You’ll surely feel repulsed shortly after.


Productivity relies on an introspective approach towards your mind. Getting to know yourself and finding the mistakes you make is the most important step towards increased productivity.

Preserving mind-space is crucial to ensure that you are able to give your 100% to the activities that will develop you at both personal and professional levels. Everyone tends to err from time to time, you shouldn’t dwell on it. Every minute you invest in giving your all will pay off later on. Hard work is always worth it.

About the author: Olivia is a young journalist who is passionate about topics of career, recruitment and self-development. She constantly tries to learn something new and share this experience on assignment services as well as on other relevant websites.