32 Things That Make You Unproductive

32 Things That Make You Unproductive

unproductive cat sleeping upside down

Are you the one who wants to be productive? Who doesn’t want! Get to know a list of things that can make you unproductive.

1. Check email first in the morning

This is an addiction, you can simply lose half a day at the blink of the eye. You will never realize how much time each task regarding email like reading, replying, scheduling, flagging and chatting by the side.

But some do prefer to handle emails the first thing in the morning if they’re in full control of their time.

2. Not having a to-do list

When you don’t know the list of things that you need to complete in a day, then you won’t do them for sure. Even when you have a to-do list, you won’t accomplish all tasks unless your list is an effective one.

It doesn’t mean that you have to have a sophisticated software. A simple list of things to do in a day is fine. The point is you need to know what you need to do in a day. I use Astrid which syncs with all my devices.

3. Having a to-do list and being obsessed with it

Your to-do list is the one which is meant to make you productive. If your list is making you unproductive then either your list is not effective or you are being obsessed with it.

An obsession with a to-do list may mean that you either cannot have a day without a to-do list (even under exceptional circumstances) or you are not flexible about your working pattern and just blindly follow the tasks in your to-do list.

Sometimes your working mood doesn’t allow the things to be done in the order they’re on the list. If so, you need to allow some flexibility. Otherwise your productivity will be seriously hurt!

4. Not taking breaks

Breaks are essential part of being productive. When you continuously work, you lose your efficiency. Your mind needs a diversion to think and act fresh. Moreover you body needs some stretches too!

5. Cluttered workspace

A cluttered workspace can take years of your productive time and make you unproductive. You may simply spend hours looking for a file, everyday. If the files or documents or any other tools cannot be accessed easily and it is lost in the clutter of your workspace, you will sure be unproductive.

6. Starting a day without a plan

While everyone is thinking about how to be productive, even the day before, if you sit at your office desk knowing what to do next, never dream about being productive.

7. Cluttered inbox

Is your email box cluttered? You will have to spend hours for finding emails, even if you are smart enough to use the ‘search mail’ option.

8. Stuck with a PC or a Laptop

Is your PC or Laptop is in a proper working condition? Is it bug free so that it does not freeze or shut down when you are doing something important? Do you have the right software and tools to get things done fast?

9. Stuck with online social sites

Are you distracted by a new tweet when you are typing your dissertation? Just turn off all the social site distractions when you are working. Allocate specific times of the day when you are tired and need a break; this time is suitable for spending on social sites.

10. No healthy eating

Yes you read it right. Your productivity depends on your diet. If you don’t have a well-balanced diet, you won’t have the stamina, fresh mind, good eye sight or whatever needed to get things done.

I am not scaring you, but even if things seem to be right now, a well-balanced diet is necessary to keep things moving in the long run.

11. Not having enough sleep

Again, you don’t want to sleep at your office desk or sit in front of your computer with blurry eyes; rather you want to be productive.

12. Not encouraging ideas

Did one of your team members give out an excellent idea? And didn’t you encourage it because you think that he/she is ‘just’ a member of the team but you are the team leader and all excellent ideas should be yours? You should change your perspective.

13. Not being creative

If you can’t produce new and fresh ideas you cannot be productive. This also applies with finding new and creative ways to take up challenges, coz life is not always nice, you know.

14. Hesitation to delegate

Do you do everything literally by yourself? Do you hesitate to divide the work among other members of the team or do you hesitate to get help from your family members?

There is nothing wrong in delegating. Delegation improves your productivity. You can do what you are good at and delegate those things in which you are not an expert.

15. Not saying “NO”

You don’t have to accept every task that comes to you. See how much time you have and accept tasks accordingly.

16. Going on an information hunt

It is easy to end up in a movie website when you have started to search for an academic ebook. It is as easy as 1-2-3, or may be much easier than that!

Just take (or hunt for) only as much as you need.

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17. Not having clear goals

Is your goal post blurry? Are you not clear about what you want out of this job, or life? Then make yourself your goals clear and precise.

18. Not having proper technological gadgets

Don’t be ignorant or orthodox. Just make use of the technological advances and tools at your hand.

19. Having no priorities or unable to spot a task’s priority

You have a to-do list. But have you tagged the tasks according to their priorities? Even more, are you able to identify the most important and the most urgent task?

20. Not developing necessary skills (for example, if you work fully on a computer, you need to improve typing speed, know to use basic applications and so on).

Are you equipped with all the necessary skills needed for your kind of job? If not, have you taken any measures to learn the skills?

21. Laziness

Are you lazy? If so, you can only dream about getting things done.

22. Unable to manage your team

Can you manage your team effectively? Can you make them productive?

23. Having no or less determination

Are you determined to carry on amidst failures, distractions, negative feedback and obstacles?

24. Not having the attitude to learn from mistakes

Are you the one who just forgets every mistake of the past and do it over again? Remember your mistakes and learn from.

25. Not making good use of constructive criticism

Did you get a negative feedback or a constructive criticism. Make good use of it. Make use of the suggestions and ideas to improve things.

26. Trying to do everything

You don’t need to do everything. Unnecessary tasks on your way hinder your productivity and keep you from doing the necessary and important tasks.

27. Trying to do everything right now

It is true that anything might happen the next moment. But don’t panic. Don’t think that you have to deal with everything right now. Allocate the right time for the right task.

28. Obsessed with being perfect

No one is perfect. Don’t waste your time on being an ideal person, rather start doing your task with passion and involvement, and put your best to give the best possible outcome. That’s all you can do.

29. Trying to please everyone

You can’t. So just keep doing your job.

30. Worrying too much about tasks/things that doesn’t matter

Yes, when you have to decide on the title of your project presentation don’t think about the colour of your lip gloss on the day of your presentation.

31. Too much thinking with no action

You think, plan, set a goal, think about the outcome, think about what if you succeed and then what if you fail, what will others think, will your parents be pleased and so on. You will get to nowhere.

Did I miss this one?

32. Procrastination

I don’t think that I have to say much on this. If you procrastinate, you declare that you don’t want to be productive at all.

If you prefer watching a video hearing me talking these pointers in a bit more detail, here’s a video you gotta check out!


  1. Imran Soudagar says

    The major distraction for me is social networking sites. It’s the first thing in the morning that I do.

  2. Oliver Tausend says

    Hi Jane,

    thanks for sharing this list – I am guilty of many of these topics. There’s one important rule though: A single task doesn’t take longer than 5 minutes should be done immediately because it takes longer to schedule it and pull it out again than just doing it.

    Take care


  3. says

    Hi Jane,
    A fine comprehensive list – I am sure we can all identify with at least half of the points. I blogged this week about some of them that are stress related on the site TeakYourBiz.
    Without direction, we can waste time, procrastinate, miss deadlines, not get things done, become disillusioned – the list could go on and on.
    As long as we are aware, that is half the battle, and we can do something about it. Great post, thanks!

  4. says

    great…you almost covered everything :) ..most of us knew these problems but unless otherwise someone tells in front we will never realize and react…I feel the few below are also matters 1) If you don\’t love/like your job then you will end up unproductive…better change the job2) If one happen to work in the same office for long time….change the workstation/cabin once in a yr…you will definitely going to be bored sitting in the same place for yrs..3) Maintaining personal relationships, ofcourse romance, might be ideal or thrilling but it will lead to distraction and thus unproductivity…I might have few more but I don\’t want to be unproductive today, after all reading this post 😉 .. keep it up..you have given so much thought into this…good article I wud say…

  5. says

    That was an interesting list. However, sometimes it’s necessary to do what we enjoy than being productive.
    I liked the 31st point the most.

    • says

      I agree completely with you Nethra. The amount of time we spend in enjoying what we do really matters though. I enjoy hanging around at Facebook or Twitter but my boss wants me to complete my project. After all it is my job and I have to do it, and that is what I am paid for. So spending time on things we enjoy is fine as long as it does not affect our productivity.

      Above all if we enjoy doing our job there won’t be any problems

    • says

      Yup, the sad fact is that distractions are all around. Especially they are dominant in the online world, and most people have to be online for their job or business. It all depends on how we are conscious about our own productivity!

  6. says

    Phew! What a list!…Oh yes, most of them are cultivable habits…My mantra is ‘change if it helps’…so I reinvent myself ever too often… many people comment that I even look different!

    • says

      The comment by other people that you look different is indeed a compliment. Willingness to change is a blessing and many people lack that stuff. Poor souls!

  7. Ryan Ward says

    This list is awesome and most of the people can relate to a few of the things you have mentioned that make them unproductive. Planning is the number one key to being productive you need to have a good plan and follow it strictly so that you do not deviate.

  8. Azam says

    For good and productive result it is necessary to do work to get inner satisfaction.Inner satisfaction always bring mental calmness in the life that is requirement of a good professional life.

  9. says

    Wow! It’s as if someone followed me all day and wrote an article about me. 😉 Checking email is the first thing I do, social media is my addiction and I never work on to-do lists. I should start on some of the things I guess.

  10. says

    Amazing post!That is a really long list and unfortunately am guilty of almost everything in the list :-( I take this article as agreat challenge to me!Thank you for sharing it.

  11. noel says

    i really appreciate your advices and i will start to plan my tasks and also take a lot of break. first i didn’t take any break until i finish to work but now i realized that i am using myself and i have to take some break if i really want to provide awesome results to my boss.

  12. Leah says

    Guilty of most of them! It was a fun to read and to learn from your post! Thank you for sharing! I will try to change!

  13. Wanda says

    1, 9, 19 and 31 are the problems with me!!! Ah I wish I would ever get over them get as productive as I need to be!!

  14. says

    Well yes, breaks are essential and continuous work loses one’s efficiency and agreed one should have an attitude to learn from mistakes, instead of just ignoring them. And no doubt a well-balanced diet is necessary to keep things moving in the long run. Thanks Jane for this wonderful and interesting post :)

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