Obstacles to Productivity and What We Can Do About Them


I’ve also written about the key to personal productivity and today I find myself examining the obstacles to productivity and what we can do about them. The challenge we face in improving productivity stems from the complicated beings that people are. We are made of physical bodies, going through life with a variety of emotions, a multitude of thoughts coming from an array of outer inputs and an inner life. In our daily environments, we come together with other equally complicated beings for a common purpose. They may or may not match us in any other way than the shared purpose in that space, but it is enough to accomplish those goals.

Central to this look at productivity is the recognition that we are of two minds. We are usually more familiar with our outer conscious mind that receives input from our senses and expresses through tangible things and activities.

This is generally where any organization (family, clubs, classes, businesses, etc.) place their focus by providing the components in our environment that support our mutual goals.

  1. Physically, they supply or obtain the resources required to get the job done, to maintain the physical place in which we operate, to provide the bio-supports, schedules and routines that optimize the results, the ability to collaborate and the quality of the end products and services. Malfunctions in these areas result in immediate slowing in value and productivity.

  2. Emotionally, these physical surroundings can have a negative impact on the emotional life of the group. Stress rises when there is a lack of balance between work and rest. We may not be able to eliminate it entirely as we balance the desire against the demands of our endeavors, but common areas to interact, aesthetic surroundings, and ways and means to recreate and release stress help. So do the routines that tell us where and when we need to be somewhere, doing a specific task. When we know what is expected of us, have the tools to do it and reliable outcomes, we feel better.

  3. The same attention to these physical arrangements may lend itself to improved collaboration between participants and thus improvements in productivity.

  4. We also improve productivity when we can provide an environment in which open communication is possible. People like to have some control over their life experience and the opportunity to be heard in a receptive way makes an overall difference. Such communication may reveal problems in the overall physical systems that left unattended could draw down productivity. We should be alert to the need to adjust our systems as we learn about them. Often a minor change like the creation of a color coded order or request form can make a big difference in how people respond to one another and their ability to remember and address requests.

  5. It’s relatively easy to pay attention to these aspects of our workflow as the outer realm is always in our face. Yet, in our interactions with others, it is within our thoughts that we find the seeds for the greatest obstacles to productivity. When the combination of thoughts, feelings and actions expresses itself as a negative or bad attitude, it creates a poisonous infection throughout the group that must be addressed to maintain high positive results. Leaders play an important role here to listen to their members and work with them to identify the source of negativity, as well as examine their preferences and what would have to be done in order to achieve them.

  6. Although not discussed often in our group experience, how we think plays a huge part in personal productivity that impacts the greater number. Brain research has revealed that as part of our survival mechanism, we automatically default to negative thinking when faced with new information and challenges. However, when aware of this default programming, each individual can learn to discipline their mind to reverse the automatic response and look for more positive choices. For the moment, it is the responsibility of each individual to learn techniques to do this, as it is not routine in today’s group experiences. By learning to use positive self-talk, Afformations and What if questions to focus in a positive direction rather than the default negative, people can change their negative thinking dramatically and achieve rapid, positive results.

As we do this, we are delving into the second aspect of mind, our subconscious or nonconscious mind. Along with being responsible for maintaining our survival and all our autonomous body functions below the level of awareness, the subconscious is also the place from which intuition, inspiration, imagination and feelings emerge. And in using positive questions, we are also accessing another of its inherent functions – to serve as a search engine to find solutions. Too often in our day to day conscious experiences, we discount the value of the qualities of the subconscious mind, thus losing its ability to help us resolve problems.

The subconscious mind is also nonlinear – not recognizing time and space – and nonverbal. Thus, it takes some relaxed time to listen for its voice, to ask questions and receive guidance that we can put into action. When we take the time, we enhance our productivity and our results.

The relationship we nurture with our subconscious mind is so valuable to me that I start my day connecting or aligning with it. I express gratitude for what I perceive to be of value to my life. I visualize what I would like to have and ask questions. If ideas emerge from this time, I put a suggested action on my To Do list for the day as a high priority. I have found that such “out of the blue” insights may lead me to good results faster and more easily, thus better productivity. They also contribute to my awareness of the systems that enable an entire organization to function optimally.

If you have yet to explore your relationship to your subconscious mind, I can only share that it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done and I highly recommend it.

Ultimately, achieving high productivity is improved when we define clear goals, focus on them and pay attention to the diverse requirements (physical, emotional, conscious and nonconscious) required to make them happen. Start with yourself and watch how it expands into all areas of your life.

To Your Success,


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