Following every productivity hack you can find? That might be why you’re failing.
By Kayla Matthews (Productivity Writer)

The internet is chock-full of common productivity tips that, at first glance, seem easy to follow. They instruct you to organize your inbox by creating folders to keep messages about certain subjects separate. Or they might praise the worthiness of creating to-do lists where you prioritize which tasks to complete first.

The problem is, many businesses find the advice within those tips isn’t as effective as they’d hoped. The information below might shed light on what’s wrong.

1. You’re Trying to Do Too Much at Once

People often think the more they do to improve productivity, the more progress they’ll see. This belief is especially prevalent if businesses become tired of a prolonged lack of productivity from employees or processes and decide to do a massive overhaul to change things.

It’s not hard to see why this is a common approach. But it may actually stifle productivity instead of propelling it. If you and your colleagues are expected to adopt several productivity boosters at once, it’ll likely lead to confusion and discouragement.

Instead, each productivity measure should be introduced gradually so no one feels overwhelmed.

2. You Don’t Have a Long-Term Plan

Productivity pointers are nearly useless if you don’t have your sights set on the future and have a long-term plan to help you get there. This task alone can seem daunting, especially if your business is new.

You can choose from all kinds of planning and business intelligence tools, which can help you face what’s ahead with confidence. Such tools often feature built-in data about trends, time management and market expectations, so you have a better idea about what the future of your industry will look like.v

3. You’re Hiring the Wrong People

Finding employees with the skillsets you need is important. But those workers should also be highly motivated and willing to act as self-starters.

Encouraging employees to implement methods to improve their productivity is a good start, but that suggestion won’t stick unless those workers are willing to accept feedback. They must be accustomed to getting things done at an efficient pace.

4.  You’re Not Familiar With the Latest Technology

Many common productivity tips found online or in business magazines revolve around technology, such as apps and browser extensions.

If you don’t have a basic familiarity of the suggested technology, or a working knowledge of how to install it on your device, you’ll probably wrestle with a learning curve that could leave you feeling rather unproductive. It’s even possible to become so frustrated that you curse the technology and abandon it before you’re able to reap the benefits.

To avoid this scenario, spend time choosing a few technology-based solutions to help your business. If you have an IT staff, ask those employees for personal recommendations for safe and easy-to-use apps and browser extensions.

Once you’ve created that short list, conduct in-depth research. Read the relevant installation and usage instructions. Remind yourself that the time you spend learning will translate to time saved later.

With the proper research, you minimize the chance of spending countless minutes anxiously reading support pages and trying to determine why a feature that was supposed to improve productivity isn’t working like you expected.

The business problems you may be facing aren’t necessarily related to the effectiveness — or perceived lack thereof — of the productivity tips you find. Perhaps they’re more closely related to issues that are present, and they’re relatively easy to solve with the right mindset.

What helps you work most productively?

Photo credit: Robert Kyllo via Shutterstock.

About the guest blogger: Kayla Matthews is a workplace productivity writer who relishes organization and a positive attitude. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter to check out her latest posts, or find her at