3 Habits That Kill Productivity & Performance (and 1 Solution to Rule Them All)

What are the three worst habits for productivity and performance? How do you overcome them?

Habit #1 – Poor Work-Life Balance

Have you ever muttered, “I can’t keep this up, somethings going to give!” While we all face occasional periods of imbalance, many face prolonged life imbalance, and it’s one of the leading killers of productivity:

  • 48% of the workforce consider themselves workaholics
  • 11% of the workforce work 50+ hours on average per week
  • 70% of work-from-home employees say they now put in significant work hours on the weekend
  • Work-life imbalance is the leading cause of burnout and turnover

What are the leading causes of work-life imbalance? The answers to this question vary widely by study, but here are some staple answers:

  • My boss or my company is overbearing and demands too much from me
  • I struggle to define boundaries between work and home life (I’m working when I shouldn’t be)
  • I don’t know how to handle competing demands on my time
  • I don’t have resources to manage time (and my company hasn’t given me any resources)
  • I don’t get support from my leaders

There is a simple truth: a person cannot sustain increased productivity at the expense of their health and relationships. Here’s some proof:

  • 85% of companies that offered a work-life balance program to employees saw a measurable increase in productivity
  • Companies who offered work-life balance programs saw 50% fewer healthcare related costs

And let’s be honest, this doesn’t need stats – ask yourself these simple questions:

  • When I feel mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy, am I more or less productive at work?
  • When my relationships outside of work are positive and healthy, am I more or less productive at work?

Maintain a healthy work-life balance, live in good health, maintain positive relationships, and you’ll be able to operate at peak productivity at work. 


Habit #2 – Living in Q1 or Q3

Last week, we discussed the four time-management quadrants originally developed by President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower (find the recap here). Those who live in “crisis mode” – quadrant one – fail to ever get to many of the tasks that “matter most.” Those in quadrant three – who are always answering emails at all hours and arranging excessive meetings – similarly fail to ever get to what matters most.

The research shows that individuals and organizations that struggle and that are far less productive spend 40-50 percent of their time in Q1, 15-20 percent of their time in Q2, 30-40 percent in Q3, and 10-15 percent in Q4.

The research also indicates that the optimal high-performance and productivity balance for a person or team is to spend 20-25 percent of their time doing Q1 activities, 60-70 percent of their time focusing on Q2 activities, and 5-15 percent of their time managing Q3 activities, and less than 5 percent of their time in Q4 activities.

So, take a moment of self-evaluation – where do you spend your time? Are you spending 60-70 percent of your time focusing on Q2 activities? You can read more about these quadrants and this research here. So, how do you tactically shift your focus to Q2 activities? By applying the skills and habits of Doing What Matters Most (find them below).

Habit #3 – Winging It

There is a time and place for winging it! For trusting your gut, jumping in and simply going after it. This is typically when unexpected opportunities or problems arise (Q1 tasks are a valid time to wing it). Go after these events and “do it,” as we and Nike like to say.

But, this doesn’t mean “winging it” is an effective approach to life. The opposite is true.

Would the athlete or sports team who decides to wing it instead of intentional planning and practice be more or less productive and effective? Would a fighter pilot who decides to just wing her mission be more or less effective than the pilot who maps out a plan, contingencies, and variables?

Those who wing it accomplish on average 30% less than those who intentionally plan and prioritize their schedules by role.

Winging it is the “easy path” and the “path of least resistance,” but don’t let it be your path. Take the high road of leading a life by design and studies show you’ll accomplish 30-50% more on average (and with less stress). This equates to 800 – 1,000 additional “key activities” per year. That’s productivity!


The Solution

How do you lead a life by design and avoid every single one of these productivity killers? There is one solution for them all — Do What Matters Most:

  1. Define Your Personal Vision
  2. Set Roles and Goals
  3. Pre-Week Plan on a weekly basis

Our purpose in life is to not merely exist or pass the time, it is to live. It is to live meaningfully, purposefully, and intentionally accomplish what matters most, and these three habits are how it’s done. 

Go get it! The world is your oyster!

“When people pre-week plan productivity and performance increase; health and relationships improve; stress and task saturation decrease.” – Rob Shallenberger

Want to see other articles and posts by Becoming Your Best? Go here.

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