Written by: Lach Ravelo

20 Hidden Productivity Killers That Stop You in Your Tracks


Productivity is the key to success — you can’t expect to be successful in business if you have a terrible head for time management. Watch out for hidden productivity killers if you want to succeed. Read this to learn more.

You’ve been working hard at your job for quite a while, but suddenly you feel like you’re “running out of steam.” You know that you can still accomplish a lot — but you just feel like your productivity is in decline.

Well, guess what? There could be a few things that are sabotaging your progress. Here are the 20 hidden productivity killers that could be stopping you from achieving more:

1. Lack of Sleep

biggest productivity killers

Sleep deprivation affects our ability to concentrate and think clearly. It can lead to irritability, moodiness, depression, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, and memory problems. When we’re tired, we’re less able to focus, remember details, and solve problems.

How much sleep do you need?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7 to 9 hours per night. Most people fall short of this amount. In fact, about 35 percent of Americans don’t get at least seven hours of sleep each night!

Remember, getting enough sleep helps boost creativity, concentration, and problem-solving skills. It improves our physical health and reduces stress.

So, instead of trying to cram everything into one day, why not plan ahead? Set aside 30 minutes before bedtime to relax and unwind. Try reading something fun before going to sleep. Or better yet, listen to soothing music before hitting the hay. Doing so will help you drift off to dreamland feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever challenges come your way tomorrow.

Remember, lack of sleep is nothing more than a hindrance and a hidden productivity killer.

2. Being too busy to take breaks and get away from work.

When working long hours, it’s easy to forget about taking regular breaks. However, research shows that workers who take frequent breaks are more efficient and creative than those who don’t. 

Why? Because taking a break gives you a chance to clear your head and recharge.

One way to incorporate breaks into your schedule is to use the Pomodoro technique. Simply put, the Pomodoro Technique is a method used to focus on completing a task for 25 minutes, then taking a short break for 5 minutes. Repeat until the job is completed. Once you finish a task, move on to another one.

3. Feeling overwhelmed with all the tasks on your plate.

biggest productivity killers at work

We all have things we have to do. Sometimes, though, we become so focused on trying to accomplish everything that we end up accomplishing nothing. And yes, juggling too many tasks at once is nothing more than a hidden productivity killer. 

To combat this tendency, create a list of priorities. Make sure each item on your list is something you absolutely must get done. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to fit everything into your day, try using an app such as Asana, Trello, or Plutio. These apps will help you prioritize your workload by assigning due dates to each project.

Or, if you’re not happy working with apps, The Bullet Journal Method might just be able to help you with managing every task you need to work on. It works with any notebook you have, or you could use something like this or this

4. Having unrealistic expectations about how much time it takes to complete specific projects.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to achieve big goals. But if you set yourself up for failure by setting unreasonable deadlines, you may find yourself constantly frustrated when you realize that you aren’t accomplishing anything significant. 

Before you decide on how long it takes to work on a task, try to do time-tracking first, so you get a feel of how long it actually takes you to complete similar tasks. This will give you a realistic idea of what you should expect.

5. Working long hours without taking care of yourself.

major productivity killers

Working long hours doesn’t always mean you’re being productive. In fact, an average worker is only productive at 5 hours a day (sometimes four) – at most! 

So what does this means for you?

It means that if you want to achieve more, you need to make sure you’re not overworking yourself. Take some time off every once in a while. Get outside and enjoy nature. Go for walks, hikes, or even bike rides. And don’t even think about skipping your meals!  

Remember, you need to take care of yourself first so you can take care of business. That way, you can stop hidden productivity killers like this in their tracks. 

6. Being overly critical of yourself. 

Nobody is perfect, and no matter how hard you try, there are bound to be times when you mess up. It’s important to remember that mistakes happen. Instead of beating yourself up over them, brainstorm for possible solutions and execute the best ones. Most importantly, learn from them and move on. Because if you don’t, you’ll get stuck, and you’ll never be able to work at full capacity unless you change your mindset.

Remember, the faster you can get over self-defeating thoughts, the better. 

7. Letting other people distract you from your goals.

biggest workplace productivity killers

When we allow others to distract us from our goals, we lose sight of what matters. We also risk losing motivation and inspiration.

So what can you do about it?

First, set boundaries. Let the people around you know that you are only available during specific times of the day. Their concerns will be addressed when they see you again.

Second, find ways to cut down on distractions. Turn off notifications on your phone. Delete social media apps from your device. 

And finally, improve your workplace to allow you to focus on your work.

8. Trying to do everything yourself instead of delegating.

If you want to achieve success, then you need to delegate responsibilities at some point. Delegation frees you up to focus on what you’re good at (or what you enjoy doing). It allows you to spend more time working on your strengths rather than doing things you don’t want (or are not quite good at). 

So before you do everything yourself again, ask yourself if it’s something you enjoy. If not, would there be somebody else who could happily do the task for you? If it’s the latter, then you have an opportunity to delegate. 

9. Not having a clear vision of where you want to go.

what are biggest productivity killers

Achieving goals requires planning. So whether you’re starting with a new job, moving across the country, or just trying to get through another year of school, you must have a clear vision of where your life is headed.

Without one, you won’t know what steps to take next. You might end up wasting precious time and energy on things that don’t lead anywhere.

So how do you create a plan?

Start by asking yourself these questions: What do I want my future to look like? Where am I going? Who do I want to become? How will I get there?

Once you’ve answered those questions, write down your answers. Then, break down each goal into smaller milestones. Finally, assign dates to each milestone so you know exactly when you should start working towards achieving that goal.

9. Focusing on the wrong things.

You’d probably be surprised. Focusing on the wrong things is one of the biggest hidden productivity killers out there, and for a reason – because they distract you from doing what’s vital for you. They cause you to waste time, money, and energy on things that aren’t worth your time.

The problem is that most of us tend to focus on the wrong things without even realizing it.

So how do we avoid this trap?

First, revisit your vision. What do you want your future to look like?

Next, consider the goals you need to reach to get you where you want to be. Are these goals aligned with your vision?

Lastly, assess your current priorities and determine whether they align with the bigger picture. If so, you’re focusing on the right things!

But if not, you need to rethink your priorities and take action on them so you can move forward. 

10. Spending so much time trying to please others that you neglect your own needs.

productivity killers in the workplace

It’s easy to be consumed with concerns that don’t really concern you. After all, who doesn’t love to hear compliments or be told they’re great? However, if you spend too much time focusing on others, you might end up feeling resentful and less satisfied with your life. 

Above all, you’ll be unable to give as much attention to your needs. As a result, you might miss out on opportunities to grow and develop. And if you don’t feel fulfilled, you won’t be happy. (That’s why it’s one of those hidden productivity killers you should watch out for, too).

So how do people stay focused on their needs while caring for others?

It all starts with a bit of self-love. Prioritize yourself first before you start extending your help to others. You’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll be able to accomplish once you put yourself first. 

11. Overcommitting yourself.

Overcommitment is one of those hidden productivity killers that stops you from accomplishing the goals you set for yourself. It causes you to overwork yourself, which leads to stress, burnout, and low morale.

And yet, many of us are guilty of overcommitting ourselves. We try to do too much and often fail to prioritize our commitments properly.

How do we avoid this trap and keep it from burning us out?

First, make sure you’re prioritizing your commitments correctly. Ask yourself what’s important to you. 

Then, ask yourself if you’re doing more than you can handle. If you say yes to every request, you may be overcommitting yourself.

Finally, set boundaries. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Set clear limits on how much work you can handle, and stick to them.

You might want to read this if you’d like to know more about how you can better prioritize your tasks. 

12. Taking shortcuts when you don’t have to.

productivity killers at work

Sometimes, we feel rushed and pressed for time. We tend to cut corners and skip tasks that aren’t necessary. But the truth is, cutting corners will not always do us any good. 

Sometimes taking shortcuts can cost us time and money. So why would you ever choose to do something that isn’t going to benefit you?

If you’re looking for ways to save time, here’s an idea: think things through before executing a strategy. By doing so, you’ll be able to see if a particular method will truly save you some time and effort. Only then can you decide if it’s worth implementing.

13. Unproductive discussions with others. 

Chatting with friends and colleagues is often a fun way to pass the time! 

But you know what? Too much chatting with friends and work colleagues is also considered one of the biggest hidden productivity killers.

Why? Because talking about things that don’t matter wastes valuable time.

And believe me, you wouldn’t want to waste your time talking about trivial matters when you can use that valuable time for productive activities.

But I’m not saying you should eliminate spending time altogether with your colleagues! You can still do so, but you just have to be more mindful of how you spend your time if you want to make the most out of it. 

14. Not giving yourself permission to say no.

top workplace productivity killers

When was the last time you said “no” to someone? Or did you even consider it?

You probably didn’t because you were afraid of disappointing someone. Maybe you worried about hurting their feelings or making them angry.

The reality is that saying no to someone is never a bad thing. In fact, it could be the best thing for both parties involved. And the truth is, you should permit yourself to say no whenever necessary. 

So next time you get asked to do something by someone else, take a moment to evaluate whether you really want to do it. If not, politely decline. Remember, you are not in an obligation to anyone but yourself.

 If you still find it too difficult to say no to other people’s requests, you might want to read this

15. Giving up too soon.

One of the most common reasons people quit projects they’ve started is because they gave up too soon. They got discouraged and simply stopped working.

But the truth is, you shouldn’t give up on your goals just because you hit a roadblock. Roadblocks, after all, are part of life.

Instead, try to figure out where the problem lies. Then, focus on solving that specific issue. Once you’ve done that, move on to another challenge.

Don’t give in to these hidden productivity killers. Instead, learn from them and keep moving forward. 

16. Working in an unconducive work environment.

common productivity killers in workplace

One of the most common hidden productivity killers is the work environment itself. Because let’s face it: our space affects how we do work.

For instance, if the lighting is terrible, it makes us more likely to procrastinate. If the noise level is high, it distracts us from focusing on our work.

So make sure your office has everything you need to stay focused and productive. For example, have enough natural light, comfortable furniture, and a quiet place to work. Also, make sure that you’re surrounded by only positive energy.

Remember, the right environment can help you achieve great results. So make sure yours is conducive to success.

17. Procrastinating.

I know. Procrastination isn’t exactly a hidden productivity killer, but it’s there. It’s lurking around every corner, waiting to stop you from achieving your goals.

Procrastination is one of the biggest productivity killers there is. Why? Because it stops you from doing anything at all.

So next time you feel like procrastinating, ask yourself why. Is it because you’re overwhelmed with tasks? Do you lack motivation? 

Perhaps you need to relax and recharge for a while to regain some momentum? 

Whatever the reason may be, you need to deal with it immediately. Otherwise, it will continue to haunt you until you finally decide to act.

18. Busyness.

productivity killers in business

Let me tell you this: busyness is different from being productive. The former means you’re always running here and there trying to meet deadlines. In other words, busyness makes you “feel” busy, but you’re not necessarily productive. On the other hand, the latter means you’re getting things done.

So how do you combat busyness?

Simple. Just revisit your goals and ensure that everything you do is aligned with those goals, and take action! This way, you’ll find yourself constantly accomplishing new things.

19. Lack of clarity and direction. 

One of the biggest hidden productivity killers is a lack of clarity and direction.

Because here’s the thing: when we’re not clear about what we want to achieve, we tend to get lost along the way. Without clarity, we do too many things simultaneously, jumping around between tasks instead of focusing on one thing at a time. Even worse, a lack of clarity leads to a lack of direction. 

Think about it: how are you going to get to where you want to go if you don’t know the direction in which you should be heading?

So go ahead, take some time to clarify your vision, and set a few clear goals. Then, stick to them. Don’t change course unless you need to.

20. Multi-tasking. 

common productivity killers

Another hidden productivity killer is multi-tasking. 

While some think multitasking helps them work faster, research shows that it slows us down. Multitaskers spend less time thinking and more time switching their attention between two or more tasks. And while it might feel good to switch quickly between tasks, it doesn’t leave enough time to do any of them properly.


If you’re looking to improve your productivity, I hope these 20 hidden productivity killers helped you identify some areas that could use improvement.

As you can see, they’re pretty simple to fix. You must look within yourself and figure out what’s stopping you from reaching your full potential. Once you’ve identified the problem, you can start working toward fixing it.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you again next time! 


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