5 Ways You’re Killing Your Productivity (And How to Stop)

5 Ways You're Killing Your Productivity (And How to Stop)

by Kate Muller | Featured Contributor

It’s Monday morning.

You have a lot on your plate this week and it’s critical that you hunker down and get right to it.

So you start on a task – one that’s relatively unimportant and in the grand scheme of things, undeserving of your time this week. But it’s Monday and you want to ease into the work week with a simple project.

You’ve already made your first mistake.

All of a sudden, a notification pops up on your screen alerting you to a new email. So you stop what you’re doing and wander over to your inbox to see what’s buzzing.

There, you’ve made your second mistake.

Suddenly, it’s Friday and you’ve only managed to cross two things off your hefty ‘To Do’ list.


Now you’re left scratching your head wondering how the days got away from you, not realizing that your bad habits have been sabotaging your productivity all week long.

Take a look at this list of 5 productivity killers and find out what you need to do to break free from your cycle of inefficiency.

1. Putting Off Your Most Important Work

It’s human nature for us to want to start off the day with an easy assignment, but putting off your most important work can be detrimental to your overall productivity.

On the whole, people have a limited amount of willpower, which slowly decreases throughout the day. When you let your most important work fall by the wayside, you run the risk of not getting it done at all.

Resist the urge to work on those easy projects that provide instant gratification and tackle your most important work first thing in the morning.

2. Checking Emails Multiple Times During the Day

With the power of email, we have the ability to communicate with whomever we need to reach in an instant. But with all that power right at our fingertips, it can be tough to hold back when it comes to incessantly checking our inboxes.

Staying on top of your emails may be a vital part of your everyday responsibilities at work, but when you drop everything to review each new email you receive, you’re actually being counterproductive.

Do away with those automated notifications and avoid making email your number one priority. Instead, reserve a set amount of time throughout your day to check and respond to emails. That way you won’t get thrown too far off course with completing your other tasks.

3. Multitasking

Contrary to popular belief, studies show that only two percent of the population can effectively multitask. So what does that mean for you? Well, let’s just say the odds aren’t in your favor.

When it comes to multitasking, most people believe they’re being twice as productive. But in reality, multitasking is a surefire way to decrease one’s attention span and disrupt the flow of productivity.

Transform your mindset and shake up your ineffective routine by sticking to one task at a time. Commit to finishing one project before you even think about starting another.

4. Social Media

Let’s not beat around the bush – social media is, without a doubt, one of the biggest productivity killers in the workplace.

You’re sitting at your desk chugging away at a time sensitive assignment when suddenly your phone starts buzzing. Oh, look! Someone’s added you as a friend on Facebook! Then a notification from Twitter pops up. Three people have retweeted your tweet!

Before you know it, you’re completely caught up in the throes of social media.

Social media is a necessary part of every business strategy, but when it’s not one of your core job responsibilities, it can be a huge workplace distraction.

Avoid falling into the social media black hole by proactively distancing yourself from your social media accounts during the workday. Turn off your mobile notifications and refrain from signing onto your accounts from your desktop.

5. Procrastination

And last, but certainly not least, there’s procrastination.

People have been putting off till tomorrow what could have been done today since the beginning of time. Because let’s face it, when you have an impending task that needs to get done, putting it off to focus on more pleasurable things feels pretty darn good.

In short, it’s that momentary sense of accomplishment that we crave.

In order to overcome your habitual pattern of procrastinating, take a minute to identify the specific areas of your job that cause you to procrastinate the most and break your larger assignments down into smaller steps. You may also want to try out a few different time management techniques to maintain your stamina and hold you accountable.

Wrapping It Up

Bad habits and senseless distractions can sabotage our productivity at work and cause major problems down the road. So stay on top of your workload and map out a foolproof strategy for yourself that will help you stay on task and effortlessly navigate through your busy work week with ease.


Kate MullerKate Muller is a freelance writer, blogger, and digital media journalist. A Jersey girl through and through, Kate has a BA in Radio/TV/Film & Journalism and boasts a wide-ranging background in digital media. She’s thrived within the digital advertising and marketing industries for the past several years, working for such companies as Time Inc., NBCUniversal, and Ogilvy & Mather.

Her savvy know-how of social media trends, campaign management, and writing for the web are what drives Kate to pursue her passions and help her clients’ businesses succeed. With a diverse understanding of blog writing, social networking, television writing, and copyediting, Kate provides her clients with premium content that drives traffic to their website, engages their readers, and saves them time. Check her out over at katemullerwrites.com.

Kate is a self-proclaimed pop culture aficionado, lover of good wine, bad reality TV, and live rock and roll music. She enjoys riding bike trails, trips into New York City, food truck festivals, and wearing long scarves with dark sunglasses on scenic drives through the New Jersey countryside. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @kmullerwrites.

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6 Replies to “5 Ways You’re Killing Your Productivity (And How to Stop)”

  1. Kate Muller

    Thanks for your comment, Angela! You’re right about the email. Every now and then, I’m guilty of checking my email, too, because of some time sensitive project. And it totally derails my workflow every single time! When I know I have to sit down and just get something done ASAP, I commit myself to closing out all emails and putting my phone on silent so I’m not tempted to stray from the task at hand. It’s a work in progress, for sure! Thanks again for stopping by!


  2. Angela Moore

    I know I check my email to frequently. Seems like there is always some time sensitive project I’m waiting on feedback for from a client. There have been times when I’ve been able to just close out email and check periodically and it’s really freeing to do that.

    Same for multi-tasking. I’ve done that as long as I can remember but no matter what I choose to do there are always interruptions anyway so then more things just get interrupted instead of just one. Trying to scale back on that too.

    Great advice!

  3. Aliyah Brody

    Kate, this is a SUPER post and I SO needed to read it!

    I’m juggling home and family (like most of us) with working on hubby’s blog and taking courses and I find myself spinning my wheels but not really getting anywhere. Embarrassingly, I’m guilty of all 5 of the points you raised above.

    I’m going to reorganize my schedule with dedicated blocks for necessary tasks and then WORK THAT TASK ONLY until time’s up. If everything important is scheduled somewhere and I discipline myself to focus, I’ll get more accomplished knowing that since everything I really need to do will get done, I can ignore distractions and focus on the job at hand.

    Thanks so much! Looking forward to more great posts from you.

    1. Kate Muller

      Hi Aliyah,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I’ll admit, I’m the queen of To-Do lists. I know lots of people would rather organize themselves digitally, but I find the act of crossing something off my list to be incredibly satisfying! If you’re looking for a time management method, I’d give the Pomodoro Technique a try. I recently started using it and it’s really helped me stay focused. Plus, the little breaks in between give me something to look forward to while I’m working on some of my least favorite tasks. Appreciate your comment – good luck!!


  4. Lori Gosselin

    Hi Kate,
    This is a great article, hitting the big 5 mistakes that can trip us up and waste our time. It makes me think of what Scott Peck said about “delaying gratification” and I believe it was Stephen Covey who said “worse things first”, but I’m not sure. I find my energy is highest on Monday mornings and, in general, every morning in decreasing order as the week goes on. It works well for me as I’m so far east that I’m awake (and on Twitter, FB, Instagram) while most of the world is still sleeping. So I try to leave those actions for the afternoon. They take little energy so doing them after lunch works for me.
    It takes time to get to know your energy levels and your potential distractions, doesn’t it?! 🙂
    Thanks for the reminder to remain aware and on top of my activities!

    1. Kate Muller

      Hi Lori,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the article! I definitely hit the ground running in the mornings – especially during the early hours when everyone else is still asleep. I recently started managing my time via the Pomodoro Technique and I’ve found it to be extremely effective in helping me to get stuff done. Thank you again for your comment!


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