• Robert Smythe

5 Roadblocks to Productivity

Think about the hindrances to your own personal productivity. What makes you less efficient? Would those reasons have been valid for a worker thirty years ago? Productivity for a modern worker can be hampered by many things. Here are five roadblocks to being productive:


Roadblock #1: Access to instant gratification.

We have unprecedented access to on-demand services like no generation before us. Be it food, taxis, gaming, entertainment, shopping, or a new relationship, all of them are accessible almost any time you want them. The famous TED talk by Tim Urban portrays these urges as a playful monkey who is only interested in things that are fun and effortless. The monkey takes the wheel of our lives and directs us away from what’s most important. The inability to say no to our urges for instant gratification is a major hindrance to productivity.


Roadblock #2: Fluidity in work-life-play.

One of the major features of modern work is that it is very fluid when it comes to time. Drawing boundaries between work, life, and play can often be difficult. As a result, we end up putting in extra hours at home to complete tasks that ideally should have been completed during work hours. On the flip side, unscheduled breaks, long casual conversations, quick check-ins on social media, or ‘just one more round’ of playing our favorite game during work hours steal our productivity at work. There need to be some boundaries both at work and at home in order to balance work, life, and play


Roadblock #3: Wasting the “best” hours.

Another reason for lack of productivity is the wastage of our best hours during the day. These are hours when we have the optimum focus, energy, and drive to get things done. They are not a fixed time slot. For some, they may be the early hours in the morning. For others, they may be the first few hours of the work day or late afternoon or late at night. Whenever your best hours may be, it is important for us to invest those precious moments in things that matter the most. Productivity takes a dip when the best hours and the most important tasks don’t meet!


Roadblock #4: Uncontrolled digital consumption.

This is an obvious roadblock. Part of the reason is that we reel under the pressure of FOMO (fear of missing out). With hundreds of mobile applications - designed for addicts - vying for our attention, it is almost impossible to say no. Click baits have become the norm for even the top news organisations with ad revenue as the key resource everyone seems to be fighting for. When unlimited distractions battle for our limited time, productivity takes a nose-dive. Each time we say “yes” to a notification, we say “no” to focused and intense work.


Roadblock #5: Procrastination & stress addiction.

This last reason for our lack of productivity is more of an effect than a cause. Procrastination is a tradeoff where we delay the difficult and useful tasks for the effortless and less worthy ones. We procrastinate difficult things to a later date all the while feeling confident that it can be done. When the deadline finally approaches, we panic and rush to finish it by any means possible. This in turn leads to a lot of pent-up stress and a huge relief when the task is somehow completed. This cycle can lead to more procrastination and last-minute submissions as our brain gets used to the thrill of it. What do we lose in the process? Creativity, critical thinking, focus, and peace of mind!


What roadblocks are keeping you from being productive? Identifying those roadblocks is half the battle to living a more productive life.


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