5 Bad Habits That Kill Productivity

This is a guest post by Brad Wayland, the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.

Do you ever feel like you aren’t as productive as you could be? You’re not alone in that, I’ll wager. Most people, at one time or another, felt like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to finish everything we want to get done.

It’s almost certainly possible that you’re trying to take on too much and overworking yourself, but there’s also a good chance that you may be falling prey to a few bad habits that are killing your productivity. 

Everyone has at least one, after all, from the freshest-faced intern to the highest-powered CEO. The difference between people who are productive and people who aren’t is that the former camp is aware of their bad habits, and takes measures to address them. With that in mind, I’d like to discuss a few of the most common productivity-killing tendencies that may be sabotaging your efforts in the workplace. 

Doing the Easiest Tasks First

When you have a bunch of work on your desk, it’s tempting to focus on the easiest stuff first so you can act like you’re busy. Unfortunately, this can end up being another form of procrastination. Instead of focusing on challenging, high-priority work, you’re wasting mental energy on busywork that you could get done at any time.

Tackle the hardest work first. Leave the simple tasks for later, as they require significantly less brainpower to complete. That way, you’re giving your best to the important stuff, and allowing yourself to unwind while dealing with the simpler things.  

Mindlessly Browsing the Internet

Whether at work, at home, or out at a social event, it’s extremely easy to fall into the trap of endless consumption. Autopiloting as you browse social media. Spending hours lost in a network of Wikipedia articles. 

The problem is that many of these sites are designed to keep you there. To keep you addicted, to help you justify watching just one more video, looking at just one more post, reading just one more article. As you might expect, that’s not exactly conducive to a productive workday.

Discipline and self-control can go a long way here, but if you find it too difficult to avoid sites like Facebook and Reddit, you might consider instead using an app like StayFocused to restrict your browsing activity whenever you need to dedicate your attention to a task.


When you multitask, it may feel like you’re getting more done at once. It might seem like you’re being more efficient and productive. What you’re actually doing is completing the same amount of work you’d ordinarily get done but at a lower standard of quality.

“Our brains weren’t built to be multitaskers,” explains brand strategist and content creator Jonah Malin, “At any given time we might be working on a project, listening to music, answering an employee question, checking a calendar invite, glancing back and forth between three different monitors, and feeling the buzz of a smartphone notification in the span of a few seconds. This isn’t “multitasking”; it is a fruitless effort to remain busy and check items off a neverending list.” 


Most people have a “to do” list to help themselves organize their day. Generally, this is a good thing, as it helps you take charge of your projects and figure out where your priorities lie. However, if you’re not careful, you may end up overdoing it, micromanaging every second of your workday to the point that you become unable to work effectively.

Make allotments and allowances for the unexpected. Understand that your day won’t always go as planned. And perhaps most importantly, avoid holding yourself to impossible or unattainable levels of productivity.

If you spend your day stressed about not getting enough done, you likely won’t get anything done. 

Caving to Self-Doubt

Humans beings are imperfect.  Unfortunately, there are plenty of self-motivated, driven entrepreneurs and professionals who evidently didn’t get the memo. If you’re among them, allow me to issue this one warning: stop. 

Letting yourself be consumed by self-doubt or obsessed with perfection makes it a herculean task to even get started on a project, let alone finish one. You become so distracted by the idea that you need to do everything to an impossible standard that you end up wasting time looking for mistakes that aren’t there. Take a step back. 

Understand that even if you do make a mistake, it isn’t necessarily the end of the world. Take constructive criticism. Learn from it. Move forward.

Closing Thoughts

Stay focused. Stay confident. Challenge yourself. Acknowledge that you can’t control everything about your workday.

When you adopt this mindset, you’ll do your best work — and when the workday is over, you can sit back and enjoy the things that make you happy without worrying about whether or not you got enough done. 

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