5 Habits of Highly Unproductive People

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

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A few months ago, I found myself watching movies all day & being extremely unproductive. Despite knowing that I should be writing new articles, the little voice inside my head was telling me that it’s okay to watch another episode on Netflix.

If you’re reading this, you know how it feels. Although you know that getting out of bed in the morning is necessary, an inner dialogue with yourself creates a list of reasons as to why you should stay warm & cozy under the covers.

Soon enough, you’re continually feeling unproductive, and unsure how to escape the abyss of laziness.

Many of us dream of becoming the best version of ourselves and being productive each day to create the life we know we deserve. But often, this never happens due to the implementation of bad habits which prevent us from fulfilling our potential.

We need to remember that our habits are merely daily actions that compound over time to create a successful life. So if you want to create a meaningful change in your life, you first need to change your habits. Will Durant said it best:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

He’s right. But recently, I’ve learned that the habits you don’t implement are equally as important as the ones you do.

Instead of building an endless list of successful habits, a better solution is to create a list of activities to avoid so you can prioritize more important things throughout the day.

Below are a collection of habits to avoid if you want to be more productive in your daily life. Each one of these insights helped me to ignore distractions, remain focused throughout the day, and consistently achieve my goals. I hope they do the same for you, too.

We live in a world of continual distraction, with thousands of people bidding to win our attention each day. For example, social media algorithms getting viewers to watch another video, or advertisements encouraging us to buy a product.

But the harsh reality of life is that if you’re not paying attention to something important, you’re being distracted by something that’s not.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found that making a list of things to accomplish each day has prevented me from becoming easily distracted as I know what to focus on.

So if you want to stop being distracted by things that aren’t necessarily important, consider making a list of priorities so that you know exactly what needs to be completed throughout the day.

One of the biggest reasons people don’t set goals is because they’re afraid of failure.

But if you’re never taking steps to achieve your objectives, you’ve got zero chance of achieving them in the first place. Seneca said it best: “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”

Like many people, I used to be afraid of being laughed at for not being able to achieve my goals. But instead of burying my head in the sand and ignoring my future, I began finding ways to stay motivated when trying to fulfill an objective.

One of the best strategies that worked for me was creating progressively bigger targets. For example, writing 200 words a day, and then 500, and then 750. As each goal was a tiny bit bigger than the one I’d previously accomplished, I managed to maintain continual momentum, which currently allows me to write 5,000 words per day with relative ease.

Start with a small objective, so you know that it’s within reach, and progressively increase the target until you’re able to achieve whatever you desire.

With thousands of channels & streaming services to choose from, it’s no surprise that pretty much all of us enjoy sitting down and watching a few episodes of our favorite show.

I’m totally empathetic to the fact that you want to relax in the evenings. But if you’re spending several hours watching TV, and are currently unhappy with your life, it should be pretty easy to agree that you could watch one less episode, and instead, use those 45 minutes to do something productive.

I’m not saying for you to quit watching TV — as I realize that’s unrealistic for some people. But instead of watching three episodes of your favorite show, watch two. It’s that simple.

If you don’t know how much you’re spending, it’s impossible to stay in control of your money. Often, this can lead to spending sprees that you can’t afford, and financial difficulty, which plagues your mind with negative thoughts.

This is not a good way to live.

Instead of maximizing your credit card, a better solution is to figure out your income, expenses, and how much money you have leftover for going on shopping sprees & vacations, etc.

For the longest time, this is something I struggled with as I was more concerned with spending money than tracking it. But when my financial situation began keeping me up at night, I realized that controlling my expenses was the only way to ensure I would continue to have money to spend.

So each week, take a quick look at your bank statement to see if your current level of spending is sustainable. Of course, you don’t have to track every cent coming out of your account. However, it’s essential to be mindful of your shopping habits, so you can continue living the life you desire.

Despite us all having 24 hours in a day, it’s easy to feel like we don’t have enough time. Work, school, and many other commitments get in the way of being productive.

But why are some people able to accomplish more than others?

The answer is time management. Because if you want to have more time in the day, you first need to manage how you’re spending what you currently have.

Like many people around the world, I used to procrastinate on any task that would take up a significant chunk of my day. As a result, I’d spend hours doing meaningless tasks merely to avoid starting my project.

But over the past few weeks, I’ve begun implementing a strategy that has allowed me to take back control of my time, and fit much more into my schedule than I previously thought possible. Here’s what I do:

  • Instead of saying I have to write a new article for several hours, I tell myself that I’ve got to write an intro that will only take me 15 minutes.
  • Instead of saying that I’ve got to go on a 10km run, I’ll tell myself that I’ve got to put my shoes on and walk 10 steps out of the door.
  • Instead of saying that I’ve got to cook a large dinner, I’ll tell myself that I’ve just got to chop one vegetable.

You get the idea. By significantly reducing the amount of time I think a task will take, it increases the probability of immediately getting started with whatever I need to do.

So whenever you find yourself procrastinating on a task, reduce the barrier to entry, and you’ll be much more motivated to get things done. In the words of John Dryden: “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”

Remember: You can create a better life by implementing habits that enable you to become the person you want to be.

All you need to do is start.

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