Ask the Readers: What Productivity-Related Problems Do You Have?

As I wrote in the previous post, the theme for this month is productivity. In accordance with the theme, I’d like to know if you have productivity-related problems you want to solve. The problems may be related to tools, techniques, mental obstacles, etc. While I don’t think I can find the solutions to all problems, I will try my best and share what I find in future articles. Of course, our collective intelligence can give better solutions than any single person could, so I will also ask your help to solve the problems faced by others. I’m sure we can learn a lot from each other.

So I’d like to ask you:

What productivity-related problems do you have?


  1. I read too many differents books/blogs in different areas like personal finance, productivity, investing, gadgets, sciences, stockmarket, business, technology, philosophy, news, etc.

    I think the more i try to become balanced and well-rounded, the more i decrease my productivity because sometimes i get confused whether I should be wasting time grabbing knowledge from other areas.

    In short, I am becoming a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ person. I think I should apply the 80/20 principle on concentrating upon which knowledge will give me the best rewards and eliminate the clutter.

  2. I’ve found that not getting things done is sometimes almost as important and getting things done in productivity. when people request too much of me, I have a hard time telling them no without killing the relationship. Yet if I say yes to everything, I only hinder my productivity with work overload.

  3. I am a software engineer and currently handling mutiple development pronect. I am also providing backend support to the customer support team in my company. The problem I have is how can we be better efficient while switching back and forth between multiple task simultaneously?
    I ususally prioritize and schedule my work and do my work as priority but some times we need to take into account other people schedules also as they are also involved in the same project so I have to work on multiple items simultaneously.

  4. I have a similar issue as commander.
    I want to improve productivity and I already did with the help of people and blogs like yours.

    Unfortunately lately I do have to handle the optimization between optimizing productivity and actually being productive. 😉

  5. Thanks for sharing, everyone!

    I agree that using 80/20 principle is a good way to solve the kind of problem you have. In addition, I think it’s helpful to know what your strengths are. By knowing your strengths, you won’t waste time on things you can’t excel in. Here is an article about strengths: 12 Essential Lessons to Maximize Your Personal Strengths

    That’s a problem many people have and you’re right that not getting things done is important. I may write a post on it.

    Your situation is not easy to solve. GTD comes to mind but there’s still something missing. I need to think more about it.

    That’s an interesting optimization problem 🙂 Often we are obsessed with improving our productivity techniques and tools that we forget to get our real job done. That’s a problem more and more people face and I’m no exception to it.

  6. I see commander’s problem as a real big challenge as most recommendations tell not to multitask. Unfortunately reality does not really allow single-tasking in a lot of cases, e.g.:
    – If I do not take the phone I have to call back maybe then not finding the other person available and until I get in touch a lot more time passes and the cost of the phone call either goes on my company. So it is simply better to accept the phone interruption.
    – in a lot of offices there are more people sitting in one room – in my case the room neither has a door so anybody else easily can come in. So disturbings cannot be avoided. And I either cannot place a traffic light on my desk. My boss expects me to be available for him – he is paying me. I either cannot leave office as I am expected to be available – we are not so many people that for everybody there is a substitution.
    – Even if I manage to stay on one project for a day, project priorities often change very fasten. I am told to learn APIs from product A and then suddenly gets obsolete and I should focus on product or project B. – I imagine others experiencing similar.
    …just to give a few examples.

  7. I have the classic problem of “thinking about being productive, but not putting it into action”. I spend a lot of time reading blogs about productivity and self-improvement, but that’s all I seem to do 🙁

    Also, I get distracted very very easily. I cannot focus on one task for more than, say 10 minutes. I keep flipping between work and other “fun” things 🙁

  8. Martin,
    Yes, that’s a sad reality we must accept and you’ve given us clear examples.
    I think that’s why many productive people rise early or work late in the evening. They need time of solitude where they can achieve maximum performance and often such time is only available at early morning or late evening.

    The first problem you mentioned looks similar to Martin’s. As someone who loves reading, this is also something I should constantly remind myself of.
    The second problem can be solved when we work in the flow state, but achieving it requires practice (and I’m still practicing). I’m now reading a book that has some good tips on it. I plan to write a review of the book this month.

  9. I have no problems with completing all tasks or projects related to work, finance, household, kids. Items that “slip” by are those that only have consequences to me – exercise, photo organization (huge). Obviously, the ignored tasks/projects need to be scheduled into manageable bits each day or two. But, other interests take priority when it is time to perform. I’m not especially keen on making myself accountable to someone else on personal matters, either.

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  11. MyPOV,

    Items that “slip” by are those that only have consequences to me – exercise, photo organization (huge).

    In such cases I think the first thing we should do is to try to eliminate those tasks. Are they essential? Often the things we put off are actually not essential. But if they are, I agree with you, we should schedule them into manageable bits. Just set aside a small amount of time regularly to do them.

  12. I have been a great fan of your blog these days. You have posted enormous material on various topics and I am sure you are helping a lot of people like me. Thank you for providing a lot of inspiration and motivation through your blogs.

    I am confused by your comment in this post. You said “I agree that using 80/20 principle is a good way to solve the kind of problem you have. In addition, I think it’s helpful to know what your strengths are. By knowing your strengths, you won’t waste time on things you can’t excel in. Here is an article about strengths: 12 Essential Lessons to Maximize Your Personal Strengths”. But you have other posts which talks about diversity in knowledge and asking about reading books in various topics and not just focus on one single area. Can you please provide more thoughts on this because this is a situation I land up in very often – deciding what books to read, if I should focus on books just related to my strengths or should I be able to read a book in a totally unrelated field just to gain some knowledge about it.

  13. I think what is meant is: Know your strengths and make use of them to find your profession or be efficient in learning new stuff (e.g. if you have a strength in reading and lack in remembering what you heard then prefer reading when learning new stuff). Extending your knowledge IMHO does not exclude focus on your strengths. As you can’t do and learn everything you should remember your strengths when choosing your own diversity. – HTH.

  14. Sirisha,
    Thanks for the kind words. Regarding your question about focus and diversity, my opinion is you should balance both of them. You should focus on something related to your strength, but you should also diversify your knowledge.
    For example, you might want to spend 75% of your time on the thing you focus on and 25% of your time on diversifying your knowledge. Why? Because by diversifying your knowledge you will find new opportunities you never thought about before. You may get new flavors for the thing you’re focusing on or you may get something entirely new.
    In short, focus helps you achieve while diversification helps you grow and adapt.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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