Your Personal Productivity Personality and Self-Sabotage

Have you ever considered that your biggest obstacle to finding more time might be YOU? The way you react to the world may be the reason you stay overwhelmed. To fix this you need to look at your behavior, habits, and choices, and then figure out which ones to adjust in order to support your desired direction in life. Here are a few tips that can help you do just that.

1. Control perfectionism. Realize that some things are good enough as they are. Instead of worrying about making things perfect, learn to leave well enough alone. Obsessing over small details can be deadly to your productivity.

2. Refuse requests when appropriate. You don’t have to say "yes" to everything, whether that involves accepting extra work or baking brownies for a kid’s party. Set boundaries about what you’ll accept, and learn to say no to yourself, too.

3. Ask for help you need it. You’re not a superhero; you can’t do everything alone.  Surround yourself with a team of helpers, and don’t be afraid to delegate things that other people can do.

4. Avoid procrastinating. You know what you should be doing, so get out there and do it. If you put it off until tomorrow, you’ll just end up working harder at the last minute — and both your energy and quality of work will suffer.

5. Know and honor your energy levels throughout the day. Nobody has an unlimited supply of energy, so you’ll have to learn how your personal energy levels ebb and flow in order to get through the day effectively.

6. Communicate clearly to avoid confusion and rework. Good interpersonal communication will help you reduce unnecessary problems and wasted time. Share information, state your expectations up front, and be specific.

7. Consistently meet and usually beat deadlines. If you get things done on time — or preferably early — you’ll save yourself unnecessary stress, and your work will generally be of higher quality than if you waited until the last minute.

8. Focus on completing one task before getting distracted by another. When you turn your full attention to a task, your output is increased, you perform better, less rework is required, and your peace of mind is enhanced.

9. Maintain a positive attitude. Accept the responsibility for your own stress levels. While you can’t control everything, you can look for the good in every experience, and learn to avoid "stinking thinking" in all its many forms.

10. Stop trying to please all the people all of the time. Stop caring so much about what other people think. Being a people-pleaser is a debilitating pattern of behavior that can cause stress and ruin the productive pursuit of your own goals. As singer Ricky Nelson once pointed out, "You can’t please everyone, so you have to please yourself."

So take charge of your life. Learn to focus, stop beating around the bush, and don’t be too proud to ask for and accept help if you need it. Most of all, kick the guilt habit. Guilt is a junk emotion that keeps you from unlocking your true potential. Stop "shoulding" on yourself, and get on with your life! 

© 2008 Laura Stack.  Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, professional speaker, and author who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier® with Maximum Results in Minimum Time™. She is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management training company in Denver, Colorado, that caters to high-stress industries. Laura’s newest productivity book, The Exhaustion Cure (Broadway Books), hits bookstores in May 2008.  Laura is a spokesperson for Microsoft, 3M, and Day-Timers®, Inc and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, and the New York Times. Her clients include Cisco, Sunoco, KPMG, Nationwide, and MolsonCoors.  Contact her at



  1. All good points. I would add a #11: Take breaks. It helps to take a few moments each day to stretch the legs and take a few deep breaths. You’ll feel refreshed and more able to take on the rest of the days tasks.