6 Productivity killers that impact success

By Warren Bonheim, Managing Director at Zinia

The world of work as we know it is has changed dramatically and with it a growing number of productivity killers that impact your success. With the pace of work, increased digitisation and time pressures, these productivity killers can derail careers and businesses.

Here are six productivity killers you need to get on top of today in order to unlock success and drive productivity in your business:

1. Incorrect use of focus and energy

Every person’s body and mental rhythm is different, we all have times throughout the day where we have more energy to focus and times when our energy dips. When our energy is low our focus is impacted.

Yet most people are unaware and do not utilise peak energy times to their advantage. Using your peak energy times to focus on high impact activities and low energy times to do tasks that don’t require huge mental focus, will dramatically increase productivity.

If your peak energy time is first thing in the morning, then driving in traffic will negatively impact your focus time. It may be better to use that time to your advantage and set your travel time for later.

Also, I find that people who work flat out and do not take breaks are in fact draining their energy. While it may seem like you are being productive, in fact you are becoming less effective and can lead to burnout. It is far better to take short breaks to boost your energy then go back to your desk to resume tasks with more focus.

2. Stuck in the capacity trap  

Having too much work and not available capacity is an absolute productivity killer. Yet most of us just put our heads down and try to tackle everything; what suffers the most is your ability to achieve.

We relentlessly rush through tasks to meet deadlines, never really giving every task or project the time it deserves to be done thoroughly.  Not to mention the emotional impact of not being fully satisfied with the work we have done.

Also, find ways to create efficiency and better ways of working which ultimately generates more capacity. Productivity tools that analyse where you are spending too much time can help you create efficiency, whether it is by changing a work habit, using work applications more effectively, or even changing a cumbersome work process.

By taking the time to evaluate your available work hours and ways of working realistically against the work you have, and understanding your true capacity, you can now implement solutions to improve your productivity and that of your teams.

3. Help, too many distractions

Distractions can affect your ability to focus and get work done, so it is important to be aware of the distracting influences in your environment. If you work from home your distractions are obvious, like being interrupted by kids or domestic duties, so it is important to have a private space where you are undisturbed.

In a work environment, people interrupt you, especially if you are in an open plan office. It is so much easier to walk over to talk to someone and get a response, even if you can see they are busy with something.

What you may need to do is set some clear boundaries such as wearing headphones that signal you wish not to be disturbed, or work from a boardroom when you need focus time.

Another common distraction is messaging apps and email whose presence is immediately felt with a sound signalling the arrival of a new message. By putting notifications on silent for a short time, or resisting the urge to keep checking emails, you give yourself focus time after which you can attend to any incoming messages.

4. Where did the time go?

Whether you work remotely or in the office, time management is an issue that affects everyone. Many people struggle with time management faced with different aspects in their day like long meetings, managing deadlines, new work projects, interruptions and remaining focused.

The key to time management is being aware of where you spend most of your time and then finding a way to manage your time throughout the day effectively.

This is far more difficult to do when you don’t use a productivity tool as the day goes past so quickly that it is virtually impossible to remember what you worked on, when, and on which day.

However, awareness of where the problem lies is a key factor in helping you manage time better.

5. Micromanagement 

This has to be one of the biggest productivity killers of the day. While micromanagement has its place if a person is not performing, it places immense stress on you and therefore produces the opposite desired result.

Have you ever felt your heart rate rise when someone stands over your shoulder or asks where something is which you haven’t gotten to yet? It is natural for the body to respond negatively.

Understanding why people micromanage gives some insight; it is usually driven by a lack of information / the fear of the unknown.  And this is further exacerbated by the shift to remote working where people are disconnected.

The fact is that constant check-ins are an interruption to the flow of work and can hinder progress of work.

6. Use of technology systems or processes

While no one likes to admit that technology or processes can sometimes result in unproductivity, the fact is that it does happen.

There is nothing worse than trying to complete an important task and it takes an hour instead of a few minutes. Or be told to follow a process which in fact adds more time not less.

Whether it is inconsistent internet, an inefficient process, slow computer applications, or lack of technology training, this is often a silent productivity killer that flies under the radar.

Today, there are productivity tools that can help by measuring where you spend your time on your computer, like a fitness app that monitors your physical activity so you stay on track of your fitness goals. These provide valuable insights on time challenges such as too many meetings, long meetings, applications that hinder success, high or low workloads, ineffective processes, too many administrative tasks, multitasking challenges and so on.

Productivity leads to success and embracing tech tools to help you may be just what you need to banish those productivity killers forever.

Image credit: Andreas Klassen / Unsplash