5 Surprising Things Productive People Give Up

Being productive is not just about taking up a set of new traits and habits although that is important. It is equally about reflecting on your current habits. You will see whether there is anything holding you back from being more productive. Let’s jump into five surprising traits that productive people give up that help them be more productive.

1) Comfort zone

When I worked at Google many years ago, I was fascinated by the comfort that surrounded me. I had just moved back from Northern Uganda in East Africa where everything was anything but comfortable. There was one instance where the power went out for many hours. I had to start working on a notepad as my computer’s power died.

I eventually moved from Northern Africa to the Google Mecca in Mountain View. Often it felt like I was getting paid to go to college and the food was catered. It was fun, but it was also too comfortable. When you’re used to comfort it can create a higher threshold to cross in order to push yourself to learn new things and find/solve problems. Personally, I felt that I had become less productive during that time.

Productive people see the world as a means to learn and grow. If you’re a lifetime learner, you will realize that staying in a comfort zone means that you may not be growing and learning. Your comfort zone is not always your friend. Get out and explore and learn as quickly as possible.

2)   Independence

I am a very confident person. Looking back, I believe it’s this confidence that has allowed to me fail so often and yet also persevere. Confidence can lead to a temptation to be independent. Unfortunately, independence can be an enemy to productivity. I realized years ago that I could do much more through collaboration and teamwork than through trying to do everything on my own.

This results in delegating and moving together towards a common goal. I see the benefit of giving up independence in all areas of my life whether it’s leading Ascend, in my marriage, and even with my wife as we parent our two young daughters.

3) Inconsistency

After graduating from college I found that my life was full of inconsistency. I remember screening my phone calls to make sure that I was only speaking to some people. I would schedule times to speak with friends and bail out last minute. My brother-in-law was kind enough to point out this inconsistency, and I was finally ready to make a change.

If you say something, you should do it. Why is inconsistency something that you give up? Well, life is built on relationships and your productivity is only as strong as the people you have surrounded yourself with. Inconsistency in your life sometimes shows unreliability, which is detrimental to productivity in any organization or relationship.

4) Fear of failure

Everyone fails. I like how the author of PickTheBrain’s article on 4 Ways to Eliminate the Fear of Failure, states, “Accepting failure is a part of the “process”. Failing is part of the process and having the humility to understand that can be an essential part of your success.

In the first year of co-founding and leading Ascend, I probably failed a hundred times. I would be confident to build something, spend a great deal of engineering resources to build it, and ultimately realize that what I built was a dud.

Thankfully my surrounding team was gracious with me to allow me to continue to dream up new ways to serve our customers. As a productive person, you need to allow margin in your life to take smart risks and fail. Be gracious to yourself for your failures and express your failures to others. You will be productive because you will allow yourself to try new things. You will also become closer with your co-workers or friends because you create a safe place for them to share their failures as well.

5) Being reactive

I actually only learned that I was reactive a few years ago. A manager had asked over and over again that I provide insights to the areas I was working on instead of them asking about everything I was working on. I thought I was proactive. It wasn’t until something clicked in my brain that I wasn’t proactive that I started to see gains to be more productive

Why is giving up being reactive important to increase productivity? Reactive people let life happen to them and often do not plan ahead or try to find problems before they happen. In the workplace, I would wait until work was provided to me instead of proactively finding what was broken and fixing it. I started excelling much more in my job when I proactively found problems and solved them. I also enjoyed my work much more because I was solving the problems that I found instead of problems that were given to me.


Ben Tejes is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ascend Finance, a platform to help people achieve self improvement in the area of personal finance. He is a writer for the Ascend Blog where he writes on topics such as Chapter 7, Chapter 13collections and creditors to help people get out of debt and experience financial freedom.


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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.