5 Productivity-Sucking Snags To Avoid At Work

Some days, you're a productivity machine. You get everything done on time, plus some. However, other days, you can't even get through your e-mail. When it comes to exceptional work performance, what's really stopping you from being great? Related: 5 Yoga Practices That Make You More Productive Here are a few productivity-sucking snags to avoid.


1. Lack Of Focus

Psychologists and emotional intelligence experts suggest that exceptional performance depends on our ability to sustain our focus on an individual task. According to the internationally known psychologist Daniel Goleman, we should aim for the neural state of “flow” where only what is relevant to the task at hand is activated. Flow represents a peak of self-regulation and a zone of full engagement and motivation. Another neurology expert and Nobel prize winner, Daniel Kahneman, suggests that people feel happier when they “attend” what they do, whether that is eating, going to a social event or writing an article. In the age of smartphone addiction, this is often easier said than done. A serious effort though certainly pays off, both in terms of improved productivity and higher self-esteem.

2. Self-Doubt

There is a super confident minority that no matter how hard and often they fail, keep their confidence and morale high. And then the the rest of us, risk-averse, full of doubts, and insecurities. Especially when we are asked to perform something new, we tend to think there is always someone more intelligent, experienced and creative that can perform that task better. Instead of letting this miserable attitude paralyze you, start empowering yourself today and believe in your abilities. The only real obstacle in achieving greatness is the barriers that you put to yourself by self-labelling.

3. Not “Feeding” Your Inner Beast

This tip goes to the creative types. As Lou Dorfman, design chief at CBS puts it, “In reality, creativity is the ability to reach inside yourself and drag forth from your very soul an idea." Nothing comes from nothing though. A proven way to feed your creativity is to consistently expose yourself to new ideas and inspiring environments. George Lois, one of the 20th century’s greatest art directors, used to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art “religiously” every Sunday to inspire his creative breakthroughs. Despite the popular believe that creativity can’t be practiced, there is always some room for discipline.

4. Not Taking Enough Breaks

A growing body of evidence shows that long hours and quality work are not necessarily correlated. The thought process is not designed to be continuous and the headache after several long hours of work is a signal that your brain has used up its glucose and you need to take a break. In an ideal world, every office building would have a nap room and every employee would have the option of a refreshing gap year every once in a while. Since that’s a luxury for most of us, try working in intense 15-minute bursts, punctuated by breaks, in cycles that are repeated throughout the day. You will ultimately notice that the outcome of your work will be more valuable.

5. Not Embracing Your Anxiety

Work stress may manifest as restlessness, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Depending on how sensitive and stressful you are these symptoms can be more or less work impairing and frustrating. In an extremely popular TED talk (4,263,885 views), the Psychologist Kelly McGonigal suggests that what is harmful for productivity and health in general is not stress per se but the belief that stress is bad for you. If you accept stress as a normal reaction of your body, and stop stressing about stressing, you can improve significantly your levels of motivation and productivity. This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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