The Top 5 Obstacles to Productivity

obstacles to productivity

Distraction can come in a million different forms, stealing your productivity and reducing your output. oftentimes, the things we don’t do are as much to blame as the things we do that hinder our productivity. There are several productivity pitfalls that we could get caught in, without knowing that we are trapped and it’s important to recognize them before they drain away our time and energy. Increasing your awareness of potential distractions is the first step toward preventing them. Here are the 5 main obstacles to productivity.

  1. Perfectionism: To stay relevant in today’s business world, you need to shift away from the perfectionist approach. Perfectionism is often a result of people just wanting to protect themselves. An aversion to negative feedback makes us hold onto something until we’re sure it’s great and then release it for other people to confirm it for us. Perfectionists nitpick, primp and prime until the result is just so. This fear of creating something that’s not perfect is one of the major obstacles to productivity because it sometimes prevents us from creating at all. We must force ourselves to create that first draft, with the knowledge that it will probably not be up to standard. This is okay. Force yourself to do it imperfectly first, then go back and make the necessary revisions to your work.
  2. Doing the easiest tasks first: While we would feel a natural inclination to do easy things first, postponing the more difficult, unpleasant tasks till the eleventh hour with the hope that some event would make them no longer necessary is one of the major obstacles to productivity. Almost everytime, postponing a task does not make it go away and unpleasant tasks are often the ones with the most reward. Do the most difficult tasks first to avoid the illusion of being productive when you’re actually accomplishing nothing.
  3. Working with no deadline: According to Parkinson’s law, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. This means that when you work with no deadline, a particular job would probably never get done. When jobs with  no deadline actually get completed, it would be well outside a reasonable timeframe for its completion. When we give ourselves deadlines, we force ourselves to complete tasks within a reasonable timeframe and increase our productivity.
  4. The need to switch: We all get that urge – you’re facing a particular task and you want to switch to something else. Maybe it’s email or your instagram feed or even the news. We tell ourselves “just a couple of minutes”, but one hour later you find yourself still lost in a sea of social media posts or messages or get trapped texting. There is a popular “timer method” I use to avoid switching from an important task to something trivial. This method is effective for escaping obstacles to productivity such as the need to switch. You set a timer(5 to 10 mins) and focus on only the task at hand during that time. When the time expires, start all over again.
  5. Feeling “tired”: Yes, it’s virtually impossible to get anything important done when we’re fagged out. After a hard, stressful day, we need rest not another task to complete. The truth is that we can get things done, even when we are “tired”. It just depends on how much we want it. If you want it badly enough, you can make tiredness an excuse, just another one of the obstacles to productivity that you skip, instead of a reason for not doing what needs to be done. If you still don’t believe it, imagine a relative whose life is in danger. Will you or will you not be able to carry them to safety if you are tired? When we are motivated enough, we only focus on the task at hand and almost everything else takes the back seat. In times like this, it’s important to find the real reason behind what we’re doing and draw motivation from it. If our reasons are not enough to keep us going even when we are weary, then we’d be better off forgetting it and going to sleep.


    • Tewodros, I would say that it’s supported by my own experience. I realized this about myself, and I can see that it’s extremely true. My husband calls it paralysis by analysis. I have a hard time even starting a project if I’m not confident that I can do it perfectly.

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