84 Productivity Killers and How to Avoid Them

Danny Forest


Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

Productivity isn’t about big, sweeping declarations and step rate changes. It’s about avoiding small time wasters and learning to do that at scale.

You can accomplish this with many micro-habits which compound over time. In the end, they add up to huge time savings, thanks to avoiding many small mistakes.

Over the last few years, I’ve developed a lot of these, and they help me create a lot of output. To help you do the same, I’ve decided to create a complete list of them. Here are all the productivity thieves I know and how to avoid them.

Note: Implementing all of these will drive you mad. Some may not even apply to you. So take the ones that do, ignore the ones that don’t, and enjoy all the extra time you’ve created for yourself!

Using a Computer

1. Using menus when you can use keyboard shortcuts

2. Not setting your mouse at max speed

3. Not watching instructional videos at 2x

4. Searching for files and apps with your eyes instead of the search function

5. Typing with 2 fingers

6. Typing while looking at your keyboard

7. Not taking advantage of auto-suggestions

8. Working for software instead of making it work for you

9. A slow internet connection

10. Buying a subpar computer to save money

11. Waiting on a loading screen

12. Typing on your cellphone when you can type on your computer

At Work

1. Spending too much time at the water cooler or coffee machine

2. Going to meetings that have nothing to do with you

3. Going to meetings that don’t have an agenda

4. Not standing up and stretching your legs

5. Working on your hardest problems when you’re sleepy

6. Working for a company that frowns upon taking naps

7. Starting the day without knowing what you’re going to do

8. Allowing tap-on-the-shoulder interruptions

9. Not taking the time to adjust your chair and posture properly

10. Eating out every day

11. Living really far from where you work

12. Over-snacking

Going Somewhere

1. Walking slowly

2. Waiting at traffic lights when you can take an alternative route

3. Not Jay-walking

4. Not finding and taking diagonals on your path

5. Going in circles when looking for things

6. Waiting in line when you don’t need to

7. Waiting 10 minutes for your Uber or cab when it takes you 10 minutes to walk it anyway

8. Waiting at the drive-through

9. Driving during rush hour

10. Commuting during rush hour

11. Waiting for the elevator when you’re just going up or down the third floor

12. Not doing something during your commute

While Shopping

1. Not using self-checkout

2. Going to the store without a plan or list

3. Going to the groceries when you’re hungry

4. Going in person when you can buy online and get it delivered to you

5. Not using contactless payment

6. Wait in the shortest line, not realizing that people in front have massive shopping carts

7. Not using express checkout lines when you can

8. Going to a further away store to save pennies

9. Going in line with people you know will count their pennies at the checkout

10. Finding the absolute closest parking spot

11. Not using the divide-and-conquer method when going with someone

12. Waiting for someone to move away from the middle of the aisle

At Home

1. Taking long showers just because it feels good

2. Placing things in illogical places

3. Having a TV in front of a couch

4. Cooking bad food

5. Snoozing

6. Not getting the kid next door to mow the lawn

7. Not getting the kid next door to shovel the snow

8. Not cooking extras for leftovers

9. Not using tools to make your cooking faster

10. Waiting next to the coffee machine while it brews

11. Cleaning too frequently

12. Taking the trash out when it’s not full (unless it smells…)

In School/Learning

1. Going to school for a piece of paper

2. Studying for tests

3. Studying by yourself

4. Not changing your studying environment

5. Not recalling what you previously learned

6. Not implementing what you learned

7. Not seeking a tutor or mentor when you don’t understand

8. Taking elective classes because they are easy

9. Doing a master’s when you have no clue what you want to do in life

10. Doing what you went to school for even if you lost your “passion”

11. Going back to school because you are bored

12. Going to school because it’s what society tells you to do

In Life

1. Not learning something new every day

2. Not knowing your why

3. Not revisiting your self-awareness regularly

4. Doing something efficiently that shouldn’t be done at all

5. Not acting on things you read

6. Not delegating things other people would do faster and better

7. Not taking a damn break

8. Not connecting with other people

9. Not listening to other people’s constructive feedback

10. Not taking care of your health

11. Only thinking about yourself

12. Reading this article and doing nothing about it


Whatever your plan of action is after reading this article, I challenge you to reflect on how you are wasting time. Make your own list of things to start or stop doing. Start with these questions:

  • Do you already implement any of these?
  • Which ones do you want to start working on?
  • Which ones do you not agree with?
  • What would you add to the list?

So change your self-talk. Instead of saying “I don’t have time for…”, say “How can I find time for…?” Then, you’ll be able to come up with a list like mine. Use these tips and increase your productivity.

You can do this!

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