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10 Reasons Why You Might be Unproductive

By: MPISTL | Apr 17, 2019

By: Audrey Thomas, CSP

You're running late for a client call scheduled in ten minutes. You can't put your finger on an important email that you need to reference. You burned the midnight oil in an attempt to catch up on all the work on your desk. If these scenarios sound all-too-familiar, you know that disorganization directly impacts your productivity and affects your life, both at work and at home.

If you're interested in increasing your personal productivity, consider these possible contributors to your inability to get things done.

  1. Lack of focus. As you sit at your desk, what's staring back at you? Clutter demands our attention and robs us of focus. If you're staring at piles of paper, freebies from a recent trade show, or stuff that has taken on a personality of its own living underneath your desk, it's time to do a little pick-up! Clear the clutter and clear your mind!

  2. Inability to say "no." Sometimes we think our disorganization is due to having too much to do when in reality, we just need to start saying "no" to things. Your boss may love your willingness to take on new projects, however, you'll be the one disappointed when you're unable to deliver on time or with the desired quality.

  3. Inability to prioritize. In the email culture we live in, it's easy to buy into the urgency of a request, email, or project. Take caution: Most emails are important but few are urgent. Learn to prioritize items on your To-Do List according to deadline dates and the amount of work required to complete a project.

  4. Procrastination. Putting things off or leaving things until the last minute invites unnecessary stress caused by hurrying, overlooking the details, and potentially disappointing your customers. Procrastination also affects those around us and can cause tension and feelings of mistrust in the workplace.

  5. Lack of systems. Incoming email, project folders, paper, and appointments are an everyday part of your job. Creating email, hard drive, and paper folders for all current projects will help manage this information in an organized fashion, allowing quick retrieval of items when needed and preventing clutter. Choose a calendar system - preferably electronic - that supports your needs in and out of the office.

  6. Perfectionism. Ever find yourself trying to craft the “perfect” email? You write and re-write, change fonts, underline, and highlight before finally pressing send. Or maybe you’re obsessed with your To-Do list and insist on adding every task to your list, even those you’ve already accomplished! If you are a perfectionist, you’re wasting time. Make this your new mantra: Done is good enough.

  7. Multi-tasking. According to research conducted by the University of Michigan, your productivity decreases by 20-40% every time you multi-task. Some interruptions can’t be avoided - phone calls, for example - but starting a new project or responding to email while another task is already in process is multi-tasking. Organized people tend to think they are masters at multi-tasking yet the research is stacked against us.

  8. Shared Spaces. Common and shared areas such as a mail center, break room, or kitchen at home - often experience clutter due to the fact that several people use these areas and everyone has different expectations for how space should be used. Labeling surfaces, drawers, cabinets, and shelves act as a guide in storing items and contributes to a neater environment.

  9. Major life changes. Major changes such as moving to a new home, welcoming a baby, losing a job, going through a divorce, or taking care of elderly parents take a tremendous amount of time and energy. For an already disorganized person, a major change only adds to the stress and chaos of everyday life. When “stuff” happens - and it will! - take a deep breath and a step back and recognize the need to focus on what’s been thrown at you. Make sure the really important things get your attention and don’t worry about less important items. They will still be there when the dust settles.

  10. Inability to make decisions. Each day, we make hundreds of decisions. But clutter ensues when we can’t or choose not to make those decisions. Reading an email and just leaving it in your inbox creates clutter quickly. Storing a box of who-knows-what under your desk not only takes up space but also becomes unsightly clutter. In most scenarios, a decision requiring mere nanoseconds is all it takes to prevent clutter from accumulating in the first place. 

Stopping to reflect and identify some of these contributors to disorganization will help you make long-lasting changes. Showing up late to an appointment or coming ill-prepared will be a thing of the past! 








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