Why Am I so Unproductive? Discover 16 Reasons and Solutions

Author: Madalina Roman

It’s inevitable. At some point in our lives and careers, we’ve experienced a feeling of being stuck and unmotivated.

Productivity is one of the most praised KPIs for measuring work efficiency. We’re expected to always stay motivated and deliver. But it’s unrealistic to be productive at all times, and that’s okay!

So, with all the external pressure and lack of motivation at times, it’s natural to ask yourself, “Why am I so unproductive? “.Get to know 16 reasons that may answer this burning question.

Why am I so unproductive (reasons)

Whenever we feel unproductive, we often tend to attribute that to all the wrong reasons. We tend to forget we’re human beings, we feel bad that we don’t have the extra energy and motivation to move mountains or that we’re dedicating too much time to the wrong tasks.

Sound familiar? You need to know that our lack of motivation isn’t always linked to our job or to our daily life stress. Know that you can love your job, have a chilled day-to-day routine, and still feel this way at some point.

why am I so unproductive

1. Not managing your time adequately

Managing time and energy levels are the pivotal stepping stones of productivity. Finalizing important tasks is a direct result of good time management.

Some of the traps we fall into when it comes to managing our time are multitasking, wasting time procrastinating, or making unrealistic time estimation plans. All these make us feel anxious, that we don’t have control over our own life, or feel guilty for not finishing work in the end.

Let’s unpack the reasons why you’re unproductive due to poor time management:

  1. You’re struggling with your time management skills – The best solution is to use a time-tracking app. Such a tool surfaces automatically for you how much time you’re spending on each project or task and lets you spot distractions and time-wasters. Ultimately, helps you keep and increase your focus.

  2. You’re not using time management methods that could help you book a time-related matter easily – Dive into this guide on the best time management techniques that can help you apply time-tested and proven to work.

Improve your time management with effortless time tracking

“I could never get time tracking to work effectively. That’s changed now thanks to Timeular.” – Rachael, Senior Developer

To sum up, start with managing time as the first step – this way, you’re gaining clarity on how much time you’re spending on certain tasks and better organizing your day and to-do list.

On top of that, once you manage time better, you’ll feel more productive.

2. Not creating to-do lists

Organization and having clarity on what you need to work on are key to productivity. Prepare a to-do list with all the tasks you have every day or at the beginning of the week. Using time blocking as a time management method can help you better manage your focus on tasks in the present moment.

3. Lack of task prioritization

When you don’t have clarity on your priorities, you’ll probably end up spending way more time on pointless tasks than necessary. Determine the level of importance of your tasks, and focus on what’s essential in your to-do list.

To prioritize your to-do list, you can use the 4 quadrants of time management matrix – it’s helping you break down your urgent and important tasks and decide which ones should be done first. With proper prioritization, you can stay focused on what matters.

Remember, good prioritization starts with saying “no,” so it’s best to learn how to say no at work first. Otherwise, you might end up with a pile of endless tasks.

4. Not blocking time for work

Probably, you’re not breaking your day into chunks of time, or what we’d call timed slots, to work on tasks or projects.

You may wonder how to block time and why it’s important. The idea is to get more done by focusing on individual tasks rather than trying to work on many things at once. Divide your days into timed slots. You can follow Elon Musk 5-minute rule and work on each task according to their priority.

Time-blocking is an excellent tip to stay on top of things, and probably one of the most effective time management methods, as it primes you to focus only on a project or task for a specific time slot.

5. Overwhelming or outdated tech stack

Once your productivity is measured against today’s work speed, you need to be equipped with the right balance of tools and up-to-date. You need to stop blaming yourself for being unproductive, but try to understand if you deal with outdated technology that slows you down or is too much and too complex.

Hence, if you identify such disparities, you’re entitled to ask for a different tech stack or changes in the tools you’re using.

why am I so unproductive

6. Facing too many interruptions

It’s impossible not to get distracted by all the notifications during the day. With emails, phone calls, and social media, you will get interrupted every minute, let alone working in a loud office.

If you don’t have systems to filter all this noise, you won’t be able to focus on what really matters. The important work just keeps mounting, and that overwhelming feeling gets harder to shake, while your self-worth can be impacted too.

To keep moving forward with tasks and cut interruptions, you can do the following:

  1. Avoid distractions – turn off notifications during the day on your phone

  2. Avoid phone calls during your workday if these are disrupting your workflow

  3. Set boundaries and clearly communicate when you’re available (or that you can deal only with urgent and unexpected issues)—particularly if you’re in an office where people feel like they can interrupt you anytime.

7. Multitasking

Are you trying to do more than one thing at a time? Wrong! You’re more productive if you only take one task at a time and not two or three. Despite its popularity, there’s plenty of research that demonstrates it hinders productivity.

Multitasking only leads to a distribution of attention that drains our mental resources and slows us down. Most of the time, multitasking doesn’t allow us to fully commit to each project. So, stay focused, follow your to-do list, and set deadlines – you’ll accomplish much more this way.

8. Focusing on the uncontrollable

You might find yourself worrying about certain problems that are out of your control.

An example can be not being able to launch a project, as you’re waiting for one of your colleagues to deliver a pivotal element to the launch. In this matter, all you’ll be able to do is either discuss with your colleague to understand the delays, rediscuss your initial agreement firmly, or make adjustments to your launch date.

The last thing you’ll need to do is to focus on your colleague not delivering their hard work; it would not make sense for you to focus on that, as it’s widely uncontrollable. What you could do instead is understand what is in your control to steer the project, discuss with any stakeholders, and take the actions you’re responsible for.


Another uncontrollable thing that can block you and hinder your productivity is putting too much emotional energy into world-related matters. I’m not saying these should not be considered, but they’re making you feel more anxious and lose your productive momentum. Such examples can be other people’s problems, world crises, and so on.

Try recognizing what you can or can’t control. Try not to stress about things that will only make you feel powerless, angry, and weak. Then, redirecting your focus will allow you to grow and become more productive.

9. Feeling overwhelmed by the future

We should all dream big, that’s true. It will only make us set goals for ourselves, work more, and be more efficient.

However, having a vision of what our future looks like can feel overwhelming. That is because it’s so far from our current reality. It’s like when we decide to start working out and be healthy. The whole process seems so stressful and hard. Then, we procrastinate, worry, and end up not even starting it.

If you take your main goal and break it into smaller daily objectives, it will be a lot easier to accomplish.

  • A good example is: instead of starting by going 2 hours to the gym and eating only healthy foods, try breaking it into smaller and more manageable goals. For instance, go for a walk and drink more water. It’s already a healthier habit that you can implement without feeling so anxious.

Break your goals into small, daily wins. Focus on your progress. This will help you stay motivated over the long run.

10. Lack of self-confidence

With all the competition nowadays, it’s hard to stay confident professionally. We all felt at some point in our lives that we weren’t good enough and that our work wasn’t valuable enough. It takes time to fight against that feeling of failure and not being good enough as a professional.

You can find hacks on how to stop feeling this way and value your work:

  • Start thinking about the best and worst that can happen when you decide to take that job or project. Write down the worst things that can happen.
  • Look at what you wrote, and you’ll see that the worst-case scenario isn’t so bad, so you can move on from it.
  • What if you think about the best thing that can happen? All the skills you’d gain, everything new you could learn, the experience you’d get.

Thinking about things from this angle shifts your perspective on things and helps you make decisions with the big picture in mind. With time, it will allow you to build up your confidence and make you more productive.


11. Not “googling” or using AI enough

Technology has evolved so much in the last couple of years, that we’re eclipsed by it sometimes. And not only that, but our hard skills might be rusty, or we need to learn so many new things. So, technology will accelerate your process, and you’ll have a competitive edge due to it, progress much faster, and stress less over “not knowing” processes or things.

Make a rule for yourself, and every time you don’t have an answer to a task in two minutes, Google it, ask ChatGPT, read blogs, or browse YouTube. Most of the things are on the web.

Take advantage of that and be efficient. There are a lot of templates that will save you a lot of time. For example, you can download our time tracking free templates.

12. Not enough sleep

Nothing will contribute to killing your productivity and motivation more than skimping on your sleep.

Research shows that sleep-deprived people are more likely to make errors and omissions and be unproductive overall. This happens partially due to lower reaction times compared to usual. Sleep also restores you emotionally and physically, besides filling mental resources overnight so you can work. All these are intertwined.

So, when you’re asking yourself why your productivity is not where you’d like it to be, be honest, recognize this matter, and start changing this behavior.

Sleep at least 8 hours per day, and try to be consistent with your sleeping schedules. There are many apps or smartwatches that show your sleeping scores and patterns, and you can start from there.

13. Not eating nutritious foods

How many times have you felt sleepy and lacking energy in the afternoon? It’s all about blood sugar.

Eat the right kind of food and get all the nutrients you need. You will be able to keep your energy levels up throughout the day and feel a lot more active and productive.

Not only you’ll become healthier, but you’ll feel a lot better!

14. Not exercising

It’s not always easy, I know that. Being stressed and super pressed by time isn’t always the best recipe for having the energy to exercise. However, the best way to increase your energy is to work out! With our hectic lives at work, working out isn’t always easy. Still, there’s no need to hit the gym daily.

Try to incorporate more active habits into your daily routines; they don’t have to be major changes – spend more time outdoors on long walks or running. It will help you feel a lot more energized for the week, and it’ll feel amazing.

15. Not giving yourself time for breaks

Once you’ve put in some solid time working, you deserve a break!

Balance is key to everything: don’t pressure yourself too hard, and take some time to rest. Your brain is a muscle, just like any other it needs some rest. Let your mind wander for a bit: go outside, chat with a colleague, and listen to some of your favorite music. Do whatever feels good to you.

You’ll come back to your task refreshed, de-stressed, and fueled to progress with your tasks. This helps as well fuel your creativity.

16. Having a messy workspace

A dirty workspace can easily affect your productivity. Although it’s normal for your work area to get cluttered during the day, try to refresh it sometimes.

Make your space your own by also getting it all cozy and friendly. Light up that candle you like, listen to your favorite music, and get yourself cute pen holders. Whatever works for you!

Get to see how and if music increases your productivity.

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At the end of this article, you should have the answers to the pressing question, “Why am I so unproductive?”. These are common reasons that may help explain why you’re feeling this way and how you can change that.

Yet don’t judge yourself for feeling unproductive or unmotivated. It’s completely unrealistic to try to be super productive, active, and excel all the time. It’s ultra-important to always remember that your worth is not measured by your output.

However, awareness is only the first step, you need to work on the behaviors or underlying problems that make you unproductive.