7 Mistakes People Make Under the Umbrella of Productivity

By Csaba Vadadi-Fülöp

April 15, 2019   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Everybody wants to be successful, sexy, and productive. However, in order to be productive, you should experience some painful mistakes.

In this post, I want to share a list of 7 productivity mistakes that I’ve made over the years.

First, I have to admit that every now and then I still repeat some of those mistakes. It’s better that you accept that productivity and productive life is a journey — a never-ending one. Once you acknowledge that you are on a moving train, the journey becomes more pleasurable.

Although this post is kind of a reflection or self-criticism, I sincerely hope that it will help you to avoid the mistakes I’ve made over the years.

#1 Not saying No

The inability to say no is the most painful mistake you can make, at least it was for me.

After reading a whole book dedicated to saying no, The Power of a Positive No by William Ury, I still struggle with it. I think it’s deeply encoded in us to escape uncomfortable situations.

But we pay the price downstream. Sometimes, the price is way more painful than saying no at the right moment.

Dr. Ury suggests that you encapsulate your positive no. First, say yes to your core values, then say no to the situation. Finally, say yes to the relationship.

This principle doesn’t apply to managers only but also to everybody. As a parent, friend, colleague, boss or subordinate, you are supposed to say yes all the time, all day, and all your life.

Isn’t it better that you say no instead of blaming yourself subsequently? Isn’t it better that you’re all in instead of procrastinating and making people who trust you feel disappointed?

A not-to-do list or some predefined phrases will help you to say no in unexpected situations. Keep them in your journal and revisit them regularly to ensure that you say no when it’s the only right answer.

#2 Not respecting your calendar

What gets scheduled gets done or not?

One of the most common productivity advice is that you schedule important tasks and goals to get them done by all means. This can be of help, but not if you don’t respect your calendar.

Treat the meeting with yourself as it was a meeting with a third party. It’s only you who can act on your most important tasks with priority.

More often than not, your priorities aren’t aligned with those of other people. You schedule a one-on-one meeting with yourself to address your priorities and then your agenda gets hijacked.

There’re other people’s priorities that are lurking in the shadow, waiting to fill your calendar. It has always been the way it is.

So make sure that you set up boundaries for yourself and for other people. Remember to communicate with them clearly.

Such a boundary can be that you leave your office at a certain time each day because your family is your priority. It doesn’t mean, of course, that you can’t work later in periods of high workload.

#3 Multitasking

This is the root of all evil. The year is 2019 and it wasn’t a time in human history that would reward multitasking in a way that our current environment does: ringing phones, text messages, reminders, pop-ups, social media, email ― you name it.

There’re countless studies demonstrating that multitasking will hinder your work both in terms of quality and quantity. Yet, we’re addicted to distraction and feel worthless if we’re left from unimportant messaging.

So, by all means, resist the temptation to get in the loop and do one thing at a time.

#4 Picking up multiple habits simultaneously

We’re humans and we want it all, not a piece of it! We want to be the best version of ourselves in the shortest time possible. This is why we pick up multiple habits simultaneously: go for a new diet, exercising, journaling, meditation ― we want them all.

But cementing a new habit takes time and discipline. Therefore, it’s best to integrate a single habit at a time. That way, you are more likely to establish it and, once cemented, you could consider picking up the next habit.

#5 Skipping & switching

Skipping exercise, planning time, me-time or the weekly review comes to us naturally. They seem inferior amid the chaos of everyday life. Once, however, you realize that these are indeed meaningful activities fuelling your life, you’re one step closer to success.

Switching between different methods and platforms is part of the learning curve, but not for long. Another big mistake I’ve made over the years was that I switched a couple of times back and forth between different task managers and apps.

It wasn’t the cleverest use of my time and wasn’t productive, either. But nevertheless, I learned the lesson and I would always remind myself of that experience whenever new apps come to the scene.

#6 Overplanning

I’ve been a big over-planner. I diligently assembled my life plan and my goals, planned big projects in mind maps, and spent way too much time on the nitty-gritty details of my blog.

Planning is a very important part of the process. However, if you won’t take action, it’s going to be worthless. It’s a good practice to set up boundaries for yourself to ensure that you won’t spend too much time on planning and designing. You won’t consider more than, say, three options, and you won’t postpone your project launch just because it’s not perfect yet.

I know it’s hard as I consider myself a perfectionist, too. I would take enormous efforts to get the best results, but there’re times when a five percent increase in value isn’t worth the price.

That’s why I learned to let things go.

#7 Exaggerating the importance of productivity

When you begin to apply productivity to your life and work, it can be seductive. It’s kind of an addiction that can cause more harm than good if you don’t keep it under control.

Don’t take productivity advice so seriously and don’t take me seriously, either. Give it a go, experiment, and find out whether it works or not. If not, reject the idea or customize.

To shed some more light to what I mean, let me explain my story.

Galvanized by the habits of successful people, I always wanted to integrate exercise into my morning routine. I’d plan and schedule it a couple of times but always failed.

And when I finally pushed myself to go to the gym in the early morning, it simply didn’t work. I would exercise in the evening because that perfectly fits my schedule.

Why should I change my routine then?

Productivity is a journey and it has countless stations. When you arrive from A to B, you can pause and reflect. Never regret if something doesn’t work for you, but make sure that you experiment as much as you can.


That’s it. We’re nearing the end of this post and I want to emphasize a few things:

1. Experiment, experiment, and experiment.
2. Then, customize.
3. Drop out if something doesn’t work for you.
4. If something sounds like a cliché, you better pay attention to it because there’re chances that it will work.

There’s only one man on the planet who knows what’s good for you and that is you.

Csaba Vadadi-Fülöp

Csaba is the founder of Productivity95. He is on the mission to share his passion for productivity and personal development and to help people find their own development path. Want superior organizational skills? Get the road map you need to make it happen (it’s free).

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