7 Habits That Make You Less Productive at Work

4 min read
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If productivity is an issue for you, or you simply want to increase your effectiveness, it is time to evaluate your habits. Your own daily behaviors might be the things that are truly holding you back. Take a look at these 7 habits that could be sabotaging your productivity.

1. You Overdo Your Morning Caffeine


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Coffee is delicious. It also tastes best in the morning. This and caffeine are why it is so tempting to go for that 2nd or 3rd cup in the morning. The problem is that you end up crashing in the afternoon once the caffeine wears off.


There’s no need to give up your morning coffee. Just change your routine so that you drink that final cup after lunch.

2. You Keep Hopping on And Off of The Internet


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If you’ve ever been irritated at that guy who seems to spend at least an hour surfing the internet every day, you might want to reconsider. If you are hopping on and off of the internet to check  your social media, read the news, or look up answers to questions that pop into your head, you might be losing more productivity than that guy.


If you must use the internet, designate a single time during the day that you will get on, do your surfing, then stop procrastinating and get back to work.

3. Giving Yourself Permission to Slack


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Your lack of productivity might have a simple cause. You may be giving yourself too much permission to slack. How productive can you be if you are constantly telling yourself, “Since I accomplished task A, now I will take a 15-minute coffee break.” or “Now that I am done with task B, I deserve to spend 20 minutes on my phone.


Try to think of productivity as if it were like a fitness plan. In order to be successful, you have to stick with the plan 90% of the time. Sure, the occasional break is fine, just like the occasional donut is fine. Just be sure you don’t go beyond that 10% cheat threshold.

4. Skipping Breakfast


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It’s true. Skipping breakfast, or eat sugary junk reduces productivity. When you are hungry or are lacking energy due to making poor morning food choices, you are more apt to be irritable, forgetful, and to lose focus. That’s hardly a formula for getting things done. If you are like most people, skipping breakfast is the result of lack of time and convenience.


Here are some convenient breakfast options that are healthy and grab and go:

  • Nontraditional breakfast items such as single serving hummus with carrots provide protein and nutrients.
  • Breakfast burritos and omelet sandwiches can be made ahead of time wrapped and frozen.
  • Pre-mixed protein shakes aren’t ideal but are better than nothing.
  • Hard boiled eggs combined with a piece of fruit can be eaten in the car or on the train.
  • Spread nut butter on a whole grain tortilla, add a banana and wrap for a portable breakfast that has fat, protein, and carbs.

5. Refusing to Let Go of  Difficult Tasks


If you’ve ever spent an entire day trying to tackle one tough job, and failed to get that one task accomplished, you know how frustrating that can be. Even worse is the fact that there are usually other tasks that were ignored in favor of the big task. Now you’ve wasted a day and gotten nothing done. This is usually because you didn’t recognize when it was time to let a task go.


Here are a few tips for knowing when it is time to move on:

  • Check your frustration level. If you are sighing in frustration or banging things around, you might be better off taking a breather and moving on to something else.
  • You keep making mistakes that you wouldn’t normally make.
  • You’ve worked on the task for more than an hour longer than you planned.

6. Helping Other People With Their Jobs


Many people have adopted the idea that they are helping the team when they in pitch in and help others with their work. Occasionally, this is true. Sometimes on otherwise productive and competent worker finds themselves ‘in the weeds’.

There might also be instances where an emergency or urgent need comes up that require people to pitch in where they normally would not. The problem comes when you become the go-to person for coworkers who need ‘just this one little thing’. When this happens, your productivity comes down. Also, by jumping in and helping, you might be helping to obscure issues with training or competence.


You have a couple of options. For some people, it might take a firm no to get them to handle their own responsibilities. With others, it might benefit you to take a ‘teach them how to fish approach’. Yes, teaching people might not be your job, but it can often be more beneficial than rescuing somebody or cleaning up their messes.

7. Never Turning Down Meeting Requests


It’s almost an instinct, isn’t it? A meeting email invite pops up on your calendar, and you click the accepted button. The next thing you know, your spending an hour and a half in a meeting that should have been attending by only half of the people. Even worse are the times when you realize the whole thing could have been handled with a few emails. Assuming your participation was necessary at all, your contribution takes all of about 5 minutes. Still, there you are, trapped and imagining all of the productive things that you could be doing.


Before you click on accept, ask yourself the following questions:

Question 1. What are my obligations to the person holding this meeting?

If your supervisor or someone in  upper management is inviting you to a meeting you’ll probably have to suck it up and attend. Although you might be able to get out of it gracefully (keep reading). On the other hand, if the sender is a coworker who calls meetings over every small issue, hit the decline button. Then, enjoy that sweet feeling of freedom.

Question 2. Can I make a good case to my supervisor that my time is best spent on other things?

Always assume that if your boss wants you in a meeting, they have a reason. However, it doesn’t hurt to diplomatically remind them if you are working on other projects that are more mission critical. It doesn’t hurt to try, and your boss will see that you are concerned about what’s best for the organization.

Question 3. Is there a way to contribute without attending?

Another option you have is to consider ways in which you can contribute your knowledge without having to be physically present. Maybe you could bring and underlying up to speed and send them. You might also be able to summarize your contribution and send it to the participants in writing.

Question 4. How can I make this meeting end quickly?

If you have to attend, your best bet is to make the meeting end quickly. Once the meeting agenda has been fulfilled, don’t be afraid to be the person who stands up and closes the book on things. A simple, “looks like we’ve covered everything.”, is very effective at ending a meeting before it devolves into chit chat.

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Diana Beyer
Diana Beyer is experienced and self-driven media expert at Essay Writing Education. Her purpose is to share values amid those interested. She is always seeking to discover new ways for personal and professional growth. Connect with Diana though Twitter.