Are you feeling unproductive and wondering why you haven’t hit most of the goals you’ve set for yourself? You’re not a bad person, but you might have some habits that are inhibiting your progress toward those goals. Let’s talk about some of the things that can keep us from being our most productive selves.

Chronic binging

Whether it’s Netflix, ESPN or video games, we all have our things that we like to binge-watch or binge-play or binge-do. When binging becomes habitual, it can have a seriously negative affect on your productivity. Yes, they finally put A Different World on Netflix, but did you need to watch every season this week?! Pull back on how much you’re engaging in your guilty entertainment pleasures if you feel as though you’re getting so unproductive that you’re not accomplishing your goals. Set a time limit on how much you’ll allow yourself to binge-whatever and stick to it. Ask one of your friends to be your accountability buddy, if need be.


Since when has complaining ever washed a dish or paid a bill? It’s time to keep it real, and if you find yourself falling into this pit of negativity, then you might want to check yourself. If you’re asking yourself, “Why me?” it might be time to change that question to “Why not me?” Start thinking of challenges  as opportunities.


So, did you actually think you were going to write a 2,000-word essay for your term paper or 10-page report for your job in the middle of the night before it’s due? Even if you pull that off, it won’t be your best work, and this behavior is not sustainable. Don’t listen to those articles that tell you being late means you’re more successful. Procrastination is not a sign of success, it shows a lack of investment and care. Start mapping your big projects backwards and completing the smaller aspects of them a little bit at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be done… early.

Being unfocused

You’re always thinking about the big picture and the end goal, but never the journey to get there, which is why you just can’t seem to get there. This facet of being unproductive is easily solved. Set mini-goals. The big picture is beautiful and grand, but there are so many more pictures before we reach that one. Focus on your entire photo album and not just the end goal. Celebrate each mini-goal you reach, and always note how it’s helping you reach your big goal. This will keep you on track and engaged with whatever you’re trying to accomplish.

Blaming others

Ultimately, if you’re unproductive, it’s on you. There are always factors (and sometimes people) that present challenges on the way to our destination, but blaming others just makes you sound bitter and look negative. No one wants to work with or support someone like that. Break this habit by asking yourself: How could I have reacted differently to my challenges in order to achieve a different result? Picture different scenarios in your head. Make this your habit moving forward, and you’ll be able to transform this behavior into something positive.

Making excuses

I’m gonna be real with you: People don’t care why you broke your promise to complete a certain task or produce a certain product or deliver something that you assured them you could. They will just remember that you didn’t do it. Your excuses make you seem unreliable and will ruin your reputation. Instead of making excuses, be accountable for the mistakes you make and talk about how you can improve for the next time, if given the opportunity.

Not asking for help

This is a cardinal sin in the world of productivity. Most people are willing to help when you’re being challenged in your personal or professional life, if you just ask. No one can know what you need unless you step up and voice that you need help. You can break this habit with an accountability partner. We all have that friend who knows when we’re stressed or lying about needing anything. Ask them to call you out when you try to avoid asking for help, and sit with them to make a list of potential people to help you with specific tasks or elements of your life.

Ignoring deadlines

Come on, y’all. This is plain ol’ disrespectful and will destroy you in the professional world. Sometimes it’s okay to be late, but if you just straight up ignore the deadline and are silent about it? Nah, homie. People will talk about how you can’t be trusted to deliver on time and tell their friends and colleagues not to work with you. If you’re bad with deadlines, put reminders in your phone. This is akin to those 11 alarms you set every morning to make sure you get to work on time. If you need 11 reminders to make sure your work gets completed on time, do that.

Overall lack of communication

For many folks, silence means everything is cool on your end. It means that project is going well, that term paper is going to be the best thing your professor has ever read, you’re going to break records at your next sports competition, and you’re all set. And then, it doesn’t happen. Why? Because you were going through A, B and C, and you didn’t tell anyone. Sometimes, challenges can be taken off your hands so you can increase your productivity around important deliverables. You have to let folks know in a reasonable amount of time if a project isn’t going well or if you can’t deliver on what you said you could — especially if someone you’re working with is inhibiting the progress. That’s not about blaming, it’s about calling in some intermediaries to remedy the situation.


As I said earlier, stop listening to these articles that say if your house is a mess, it means you’re smarter. WHAT? If your house is a mess, it just means you’re messy. That’s it. That’s all it means. Maybe your plumbing isn’t fixed yet because your work desk is so messy that you can’t find the card of that plumber who said he could fix it for the low. I’ll admit to my personal spaces being a mess sometimes, but I always find that when I straighten things up, I get much more done. Set aside one day every week (for at least two hours) when you’ll straighten up your work and personal spaces. You’ll be dusting away your unproductive self at the same time.

Horrendous sleep schedule

I’m just going to leave this here:

unproductive people

If this is you and you’re wondering why you’re unproductive, you need to get your sleep schedule together, boo. It’s neither cute nor sustainable to be staying up until all hours of the night thinking you’re going to take a cat nap and take the world by storm. You are mistaken. A lot of times, if you just relax your mind, you can accomplish falling asleep at a reasonable hour. If you need to, Youtube some meditation music to help soothe your mind. This is a moment to self-parent: Give yourself a bedtime and stick to it. Put your phone on silent (don’t silence the alarm, though), and don’t fall asleep to TV or Netflix (the bright light will stimulate your brain and inhibit your falling asleep).

How do you stay productive? Let us know in the comments below!

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