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5 Signs Your Obsession With Productivity Is Making You Achieve Less

As a media relations specialist, I am working closely with over 400 podcasts. I am sharing the ones I found most purpose-driven with you.


In the world of technology, there is always something faster, better and stronger that will help you do more in less time.

What about your own performance? If you are constantly trying to better yourself and stay on top of ‘Tech-News’ and ‘Bio Hacks’ to get more “output” from your own energy, you might be more likely to experience a productivity plateau, rather than a boost.

Maybe you are beginning to notice that you are doing more, but your overall results are largely staying the same?

Here is the irony: when your body reaches a certain point of exhaustion combined with stress, your research on more productivity hacks will only get you so far- stealing more of your energy and making you less productive.

Here are some warning signs that you are sabotaging your own productivity.

You Try to Save Time When Eating and Sleeping

You may have been reading about the well-known high-achievers of our generation who only slept a few hours a night and thought to yourself- if they can do it, then so can I.

However, the National Sleep Foundation highlights that there are many factors that affect your sleeping needs, so whilst you might be the same age as Leonardo Da Vinchini when he was pulling off all-nighters, many other factors may vary.

Researchers point out that factors such as caffeine consumption, screen exposure and genetics all play a role in how much sleep your body needs each night.

And whilst genetic tests can now ‘suggest’ the right amount of sleep you may need, so can your body- if you listen to it.

If you started to consider cutting your sleep hours in order to fit in more time to work, exercise, pursue other goals, it might just be a short-sighted strategy, given the number of health risks associated with losing large amounts of sleep.

The same principle applies for eating, and if you don’t want to be adding digestive issues to your calendar than you shouldn’t multitask while you eat your meals as it slows down your digestion.

You Beat Yourself up When Doing “Something Unproductive”

An overachiever’s version of FOMO is the opportunity of FOMO itself. Whilst other Millenials may cringe as they scroll through party photos on their Instagram newsfeed, you are more likely to be found scrolling through LinkedIn profiles, evaluating potential career opportunities- probably feeling inadequate for not being able to act upon them all.

Nothing wrong with striving for growth, right? Right, but as long as your interest in growing doesn’t cross a healthy line between motivation and addiction.

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Psychology Today defines addiction as engaging in a behaviour where our sense of reward is so compelling that it causes an individual to obsessively pursue them.

Always being online to reply to a work email seems great at first, but what about when you put other work-related conversations on pause to catch up with a friend? Does it make you feel like you are going to fall behind?

You Think Being Busy Is Something to Be Proud Of

I know, I have done it too. When someone asks me “How have you been?”, I feel the need to inform them that I have been very busy. Funnily enough, I usually get praise in return as if being busy is some kind of achievement. It can make you feel like you are doing something right.

But studies show there can be a number of things wrong with this answer. For instance, always being switched on, responding to external stimuli and using every second to do something productive leaves your brain no time to wonder.

You might think that allowing your mind to daydream is one of those unproductive activities you would beat yourself up for, but recent research from the University of York disagrees, highlighting important links between mind wandering, your creativity and ability to plan for the future.

You Time Nearly Everything and Use Multiple Productivity Apps

The market for productivity apps is endless- there is always a new tool that can help you do more with less. But what happens when you try a new app and you fail to see the benefits in your productivity? Maybe it is false advertising? So you dive back into research, looking for a better tool.

So, let’s get one thing straight. No matter how many productivity apps you try, there is always one common denominator - you - the person using the app.

Yes, the app can enhance productivity, optimize time and maybe simplify a process for you - but it cannot make you productive.

Instead, you are wasting your energy with the endless research and man-hunt for a better tool, giving you a false sense of accomplishment and only adding to your stress when you still don’t get the results you want.

So close down your ten open tabs searching for the next best ‘hack’, and focus your attention on the only thing that is responsible for making you productive: yourself.

Unfinished To Dos Keep You Awake at Night

Do you have an insistent need to finish everything you started? This could be a sign that you are focusing too much attention on the satisfaction of ticking things off a list, and less time to understand what really matters to get yourself to the next level.

Those who work smart, have no problem with letting go of a task or a project. They keep their eyes on a goal and are ready to let go of their original plan if it is no longer propelling them forward.

How many warning signs did you find of your own productivity habits? Maybe hitting a productivity plateau isn’t a queue for us to do more as we expected. Perhaps the best way to give yourself a much-needed ‘boost’ is a day-off, late morning lay-in, or even a digital detox.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Natasha Zolotareva

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