Why Is It Hard To Be Productive? (A Complete Guide)


A man distracted by his phone.

To be successful in life, you want to be as productive as possible. Still, this is easier said than done. Unfortunately, productivity does not come naturally for most people. You can sit at your desk and imagine productive things you will do during your day. But if you do not actively try to discipline yourself, it can be hard to stay on track. So, why is it so hard to be productive?

There is a big difference between being productive and being busy. It is easy to be busy and fill your day with meetings, events, and appointments. However, if your hectic schedule isn’t helping you accomplish your goals, then you aren’t really being productive. It is hard to be productive when you:

  • don’t have a defined goal you are working towards
  • have not set a timeline for when tasks should be completed
  • don’t ask for help when you are struggling
  • are constantly being distracted or interrupted
  • are working too hard and not maintaining a healthy work-life balance

Really, there are many reasons that productivity is challenging. Throughout this article, we’ll discuss in more detail the top reasons why it is hard to be productive. This way you can increase your productivity by pinpointing the areas in your life that you can improve.

What Are The Challenges Of Productivity?

It’s easy to say that you have gotten work done, and are being productive. But actually, being productive requires more than talk and busywork. There are many barriers you need to overcome in order to stay productive.

In any career or life path, you can stay occupied, and get tasks done. But actually doing work that gets you towards your goals is much harder to achieve.

Productivity is all about doing meaningful work that helps you achieve something. However, to start being productive, you have to have direction.

Many unproductive people don’t possess a sense of direction. They either don’t know what they want or don’t know how to achieve their goals. It’s a tough spot to be in and often it leads to indecision and procrastination.

You can measure your productivity by determining whether or not you are meeting your goals and deadlines. What does all your hard work amount to if you don’t have a sense of direction? What are your goals?

In these circumstances, it’s understandable that you cannot be productive. Without a vision in mind, you can’t aim your efforts towards anything.

Many people on this life path stop trying. They don’t put in the work, because they know it leads to nothing, just a sense of emptiness.

In other cases, you might have an idea of what you want to achieve and the direction you want your life to go in, but it’s not just one goal or one direction. You are trying to get too many things done at once. As a result, you end up distracted, tired, and unproductive.

Again, it’s good to have dreams. But you want to have focus, and you want to know how you will accomplish the goals you have set out for yourself in order to stay productive.

In short, if you don’t have a strategy, you are bound to be unproductive. It’s challenging finding a way to aim your efforts into productive work. But if you can figure this out, you will get anything you want out of life.

Top Reasons It Is Hard To Be Productive

Knowing why you are unproductive is the first step to self-improvement. When you know the reasons for your lack of productivity, you can find focus and a solution to your problems. The reasons for a lack of productivity are numerous of course.

However, in the next section of the post, there is a brief overview of the top reasons it is hard to be productive.

1. You Aren’t Productive Because You Don’t Have A Definite Goal You Are Working Towards

In order to attain anything in life, you need motivation. Goals are a driving force that set you down a path and keeps you working.

You might think you are better off drifting through life, not settling on one path or thing. But in the long run, not having goals can be more stressful. With no vision for your life, you quickly lose the will to do anything meaningful for yourself. As a result, you stay unproductive.

Again, goals are extremely important when you are trying to be productive. As previously mentioned, they give you a template for your efforts. You need direction to take on tasks and make something of your life. It’s hard to do this when you don’t know what you want, or when your goals are overly vague.

An individual writing in a notebook
Improve Your Productivity By Defining Your Goals

Additionally, there are plenty of people who have goals in life. However, many don’t have goals that will put them outside of their comfort zone and really push them to learn and grow.

How you define a good goal is up to you. Yet, at a minimum, it needs to be something that is attainable and something that inspires you. Daydreaming about a possible version of your life won’t make you productive.

But if you come up with goals that are specific enough and can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time, you will find the motivation to pursue them. In the process, you become more productive as you know what needs to be done.

2. It Is Hard To Be Productive When You Have Not Set A Timeline

Along with proper goal setting, you want to create a timeline. Timelines are a crucial part of productivity. They set the limits for your efforts and make work less chaotic.

When you know the date that something needs to be completed, you can come up with a proper plan to meet your deadline. Your plan allows you to get things done within a specific time frame, this way you can prevent procrastination.

For that reason, don’t overextend your deadline. Try to estimate how long it will take to get something done. Set a reasonable schedule in which you can accomplish your tasks.

Set a reasonable timeline to complete a project. Without a deadline, you will continue to procrastinate and find more important ways to spend your time.

Think about it this way, if it takes you two hours to answer business emails, but you give yourself the whole day to answer those emails, you won’t be working productively.

Likely, you will wait till the last minute to get to those emails. You set the deadline to the end of the day so that it will take the whole day. To prevent this, and to work more efficiently, you want a timeframe that is as specific as possible. This way there is no room for excuses or distractions.

So if it takes you two hours to do something, set the deadline for two hours from now, or carve out a specific time of the day when you will work for two hours. Do this with both your large and small goals. By breaking down your plan into chunks, it becomes easier for you to stay productive.

3. It Is Hard To Be Productive When You Don’t Ask For Help

You might think it’s better to work alone, and in some cases, this is definitely true. Still, if you can get help, you can make your day even more productive.

Of course, it’s difficult giving up the reigns and letting other people in on your work. You might worry that things won’t get done exactly how you want them to or that you might be judged on your efforts to date.

However, there are many benefits that come from working in a group. This includes a reduced workload and increased creativity and collaboration.

Two men having a conversation at work.
Increase Your Productivity By Asking For Help

With other people helping you, you can focus more on tasks that need your immediate attention. You aren’t spread thin, and hopefully, you have divided the work amongst your group to play on each individual’s strengths. As a result, you end up accomplishing more in a shorter amount of time.

Even if you don’t end up working in a group, just asking for advice can be helpful. It’s easy to get boxed into your own ideas. With an outside perspective, you might find a way to work more efficiently and end up being more productive.

4. When You Are Distracted It Is Hard To Be Completely Focused On The Task At Hand, Minimizing Your Productivity

Next to goals, distractions are one of the top reasons people stay unproductive. There are many causes of distraction. However, especially with technological advancement, most people in current times are being sidetracked by social media or other apps and devices.

Technology is a great way to escape your problems and stress. But if it gets in the way of your productivity, this can be an issue.

If you are working, you want to clear your workspace of any unnecessary devices. Put your phone and tablet away if you don’t need it. And exit the internet browser tabs that are not helping you with your work.

Distractions cause multi-tasking and multi-tasking is one of the main ways to reduce your productivity. When it is time to work, focus on one task at a time. Apart from emergencies, the rest can wait until you are finished.

However, don’t just blame all your distractions on technology. An unorganized workspace can be equally distracting. So keep your desk space clean and neat. This way you can get the most out of your day.

Lastly, cut out goals or tasks that are leading to distraction. It’s not a bad thing that you want to accomplish many things at once. However, trying to focus your efforts in many directions can distract you from your main goals.

For maximum productivity, you want to take on one task or goal at a time. So, space your life out and plan your goals accordingly.

5. You Aren’t Productive Because You Are Working Too Hard

It’s good to be productive and to work hard, but you have to set limits. Most people assume that you need to work all the time in order to be productive. However, this is a big misconception.

You don’t need to be constantly working. You just want to be able to work smartly and efficiently. In fact, you don’t want to miss out on other aspects of your life. Family, friends, and other activities are important for staying productive.

Without a life outside of work, you can end up burning out more easily. Really, you need time to cultivate other areas of your life to stay productive.

By singularly focusing on your work, you will lose the motivation to work. Choosing to work yourself to the bone will only hurt your goals and cause lost productivity. Life is meant to be lived, and your productivity has limits that also need to be considered.

Take the necessary breaks so you are always feeling fresh when it is time work.

When you can maintain a healthy work-life balance, your time away from work provides a break. It helps clear your head so you can return to work ready to be productive as you work to achieve your goals.


The realization that there are 86,400 seconds each day. What are you doing today, so that tomorrow you are a step closer to where you want to be? If not now, then when?

eightysixfourhundred, make them count


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James

Hi, I'm James! I want to help you make the most of your day by providing helpful tips and informative articles on motivation, time management, productivity, and happiness.

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