During my work as a mindset and productivity coach, I often encounter similar problems. I feel honored to meet a lot of high-aiming, strongly motivated people with grand visions on most of my days. Yet, most of them contact me because they lack to create an environment that allows them to work productively.
When I hosted my first workshop called “Peak Productivity”, I thought a few people would join, but the reality was a huge press of many people.
Especially students and young entrepreneurs who are skilled and motivated seem to fail at spending their days productively.
They know what they need to do, they even have a strong vision, yet, they fail at crushing to-do’s and delivering significant results.
These people don’t need a motivational speech but clear structures and systems.
Once they join my coaching program, and we start analyzing their work-days, we usually quickly realize what holds them back from using their time wisely.
When I first started coaching people to be more productive, I was surprised the majority is facing the same challenges. Almost all of my coaching clients struggle with the same few topics, and they all were able to solve their problems with a few simple tips and tricks.
Here are the most common productivity killers I know.
Spending Too Much Time on Social Media
Especially people who don’t actively produce much content often lack an overview of how much time they spend on social media.
According to several statistics, the global average social media usage per day is around two and a half hours.
Just imagine how much you could get done with an extra 150 minutes per day.
Quite a lot, huh?
If you feel like you’ve got total control over your social media usage, skip the rest of this point, if you, however, don’t have any idea of how much time you might be spending scrolling through newsfeeds, hang tight.
As far as I know, any smartphone can display how long you use a particular app per day.
Instagram, for example, even shows the daily usage directly in the app.
To see your average Instagram usage, go on your profile and click the three lines in the right upper corner. Now you’ll see “Your Activity”, click here and you will immediately see how much time you spend on the app.
You’ll see your daily average plus, the exact amount of minutes per day.
Most of my coachees and workshop attendees get quite shocked once they see the numbers on their phones.
It’s so simple, but we often don’t realize how much time we spend on our phones.
However, the actual problem isn’t the number of minutes you spend on Instagram or Facebook. It’s the fact that every time you open your phone, you destroy your focus.
A strong focus and the ability to concentrate for a certain period are critical for productive work. If you can’t focus for at least 15–20 minutes without any distractions, you’ll have a hard time finishing your tasks effectively.
Thus, cutting down your social media usage, or at least creating specific rules, can have a tremendous impact on your productivity.
Before working on topics like productivity and high performance, all my breaks during work-time were covered by scrolling through social media newsfeeds.
At the end of the day, I was wondering why I didn’t get more done. Yet, once I set specific rules for my social media usage, my productivity skyrocketed.
Now, I use my breaks for stretching exercises to get myself a cup of tea or coffee or even for a quick journaling or meditation session. These activities help me to get a clear head and focus on my work without distractions.
Another rule which made a massive difference for me is logging out of any social media app after using it. Every time I open Instagram or Facebook, I need to log in before seeing all the news, thus, I need to reflect on whether I really want to spend my time on the app or if I instead prefer doing something more meaningful.
I would not consider myself a perfectionist, yet, I definitely caught myself getting crazy about details too many times.
Whenever I felt like I don’t make any progress for days, I realized it was because I focused on unnecessary adoptions instead of getting shit done.
Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth; it’s a shield.
— Brene Brown
Even people who are not perfectionists per se might get caught in perfectionism whenever they don’t find joy in a task.
Another common reason for perfectionism is the fear of disapproval from others or having feelings of insecurity.
The biggest problem with perfectionism, however, is that we get so crazy about details we don’t finish the task at all.
A perfectionist views the end product as the most important part, yet, life is hardly about reaching a specific goal. It’s rather about enjoying the ride and continually learning lessons.
Plus, perfectionist people also often procrastinate as they don’t even start taking action until they know they can finish a task perfectly.
One sentence which helped me overcome my perfectionism and become a person who takes massive action is the following:
Is it good enough?
Whatever I put out there: is it good enough? Does it make the world a tiny little bit better? Could it possibly help anyone improve themselves and live a better life? Is the quality at least so good I can proudly say it’s my work?
If I can answer those questions with a yes, it’s good enough. And if it’s good enough, it’s done.
In most professions, taking massive action and getting lots done makes more sense than being perfectionistic. Of course, this wouldn’t apply to the job of a surgeon, but you get the point.
Sitting All Day Long
A lack of movement doesn’t only harm your physical wellbeing, but it also kills your productivity. Especially in the long run, spending your whole day sitting will fire back with a lot of health issues.
Several studies show how people who spend most of their lives sitting are more likely to get heart diseases and many more problems much likelier than active people.
Even though hitting the gym for 60 minutes, three times per week is better than no physical activity at all, it doesn’t really help with the long term damages of spending most of your time sitting.
Moving your body, especially when it’s combined with fresh air, is a great way to regain your focus, get a clear head, and increase your productivity after an intense work session.
Here are a few tips to follow if you spend most of your days sitting:
- Take a break and stand up at least every 30 minutes. Stretch your body, grab a glass of water, or go for a short walk.
- Get used to standing up and walking every time you are talking on the phone.
- Try a standing desk or improvise by putting your laptop on a window board or something similar.
Just like perfectionism, overanalyzing holds us back from taking action and making progress.
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”
— Bruce Lee
Nowadays, the internet allows us to research almost anything that we want to know. You can endlessly analyze markets, customers, your competition, their prizes, their wins and failures, and almost anything else.
It’s cool to have so much information at our disposal, yet, it’s also the reason for lack of action. Instead of doing stuff, we end up collecting more data and information than we could ever process.
The most effective way to overcome these detailed inspections is by setting your own rules.
No matter what type of information you are looking for, set specific guidelines, and stick to them.
Looking for a new pair of shoes online? Limit the amount of time you’ll spend to 10, 15, 20 minutes, whatever suits you best.
Looking for that perfect quote to amplify your article? Open a maximum of three tabs.
Looking for the perfect place to have dinner with your partner? Limit your search to just a few restaurants and ignore the rest.
Making quick decisions will make your whole life so much easier.
“Successful people make decisions quickly and firmly. Unsuccessful people make decisions slowly, and they change them often.”
— Napoleon Hill
The most significant benefit of making quick decisions is the fact that you will have much more time and energy for other things.
Instead of worrying, you will be able to spend your energy on getting things done and crushing your to-do’s.
A Lack of Sleep
For some reason, sleep deprivation has become a real big problem for many people in the last decades. While we exactly know how important a good night’s sleep is, we refuse to get a well rest.
According to an article by Evernote, in 2016, a study by the RAND Corporation found that because of sleep deprivation, the U.S. sustains economic losses of up to $411 billion a year (or 1.23 million working days), nearly three times the $138 billion Japan loses.
Believing to get more done by decreasing your sleep hours is the biggest mistake you might possibly make.
The fact is that by sleeping better (and probably more), you will be able to increase your productivity and focus. Getting enough sleep will boost your energy level, your creativity, and your ability to make difficult decisions.
Here are a few, incredibly easy tips to follow for a good night’s sleep:
- Entirely darken your room. Otherwise, the production of our sleep hormone, melatonin, is inhibited and sleeping in as well as sleeping through the night becomes harder. If, for some reason, darkening the room is not possible, use a sleeping mask. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s effective, and you can take it with you wherever you go.
- Make sure to eliminate all noises. If that’s not possible, use earplugs. Again: Easy peasy, but super effective for increasing the quality of your sleep and life.
- Avoid screens and practice light, relaxing activities before going to sleep. If you need to use your devices, at least make sure to use a blue light blocking app, or even blue light blocking glasses. What you might do instead are activities like yoga, meditation, reading, journaling, or stretching exercises. Taking a little me-time before bedtime is an excellent idea.
Staying in Your Comfort Zone
At first sight, it might be unclear how your comfort zone relates to your productivity, but I’ve seen many people who experience this struggle.
When we stick to the same routines, activities, and expectations for too long, our personal productivity often decreases. Our motivation drops, and so does our level of efficiency.
Trying out new things, starting new projects, and brainstorming new ideas are great ways of boosting our comfort zone as well as our productivity.
Sometimes, stretching your comfort zone can even mean changing your workplace and sitting in a nice cafe for a day.
Even if we enjoy security and certainty, a little flexibility and regular changes are a good idea.