16 Habits of Highly Unproductive People

16 Habits of Highly Unproductive People

We all know that the actions we take, or do not take, dictate our results. Are you aware of any  personal constraints that are choking you, rendering you a highly unproductive person? Is there a familiar behavior holding you back from being successful but you keep repeating it? How has this behavior negatively impacted your life and business? What specific action can you take to ensure greater success?

Most of us are oblivious to our primary constraint. As a result, we continue to repeat an ongoing cycle of  unproductive behavior.  If we can identify it, then we can immediately begin working to correct it.

If you have read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, you may recall the following passage:
The majority of people are ready to throw their aims and purposes overboard, and give up at the first sign of opposition and misfortune. A few carry on DESPITE all opposition, until they attain their goal. These few are the Fords, Carnagies, Rockefellers, and Edisons.
It is may have been easy for us to overlook Hill’s discovery about persistence resulting from his extensive 20-year study of the behaviors of very successful people:  They not only persisted in the pursuit of their purpose and goals, but they ALSO persisted in matters that to the masses seem inconsequential.  
Persistence is one of the biggest differentiators between those who attain the entrepreneurial dream and those who do not!  In fact, Hill stated that in the accomplishment of great riches (in every aspect of life–not just financial), there is no substitute for persistence and if “one does not possess persistence, one does not achieve noteworthy success“.
In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill lists 16 symptoms of lack of persistence (bold text is Hill's):
1.  Failure to recognize and to clearly define exactly what one wants.  If you are struggling in this area, you have not defined your purpose.  
2.  Procrastination, with or without cause (usually backed up with a formidable array of alibis and excuses).   Many people have “justifiable reasons” for not doing certain things (short on time; short on money, etc.). The only thing worse than an excuse is a GOOD excuse. Too many people have too many “good” excuses!
3.  Lack of interest in acquiring specialized knowledge.  What tends to prohibit people most in acquiring specialized knowledge is a low self-image. To learn anything requires a certain degree of confidence. You have to have a relatively decent self-image that you have the ability to learn what you need to. However, if you have too little confidence, you will think you are incapable of learning. If you have too much confidence, worse yet, you will think you do not need to learn anything! In all actuality, people who suffer from a low self-image do not need to know HOW to do the specific or specialized task. However, they do need to know how to find someone else who can.
4.  Indecision, the habit of passing the buck on all occasions instead of facing issues squarely.  (Also backed by alibis).  Indecision is one of the nails in the coffin of desire and achievement.
5.  The habit of relying upon alibis instead of creating definite plans for the solution of problems.  Many are in the habit of putting things off rather than taking care of them immediately. In the Decision chapter, Hill states that every successful person “had the habit of REACHING DECISIONS PROMPTLY and changing these decisions slowly, if and when they were changed. People who fail to accumulate money, without exception, have the habit of reaching decisions, IF AT ALL, very slowly and of changing these decisions quickly and often.”
6.  Self-satisfaction. There is but little remedy for this affliction, and no hope for those who suffer from it.  I believe Hill is referring to people who are smug, callous and insensitive here.
7.  Indifference, usually reflected in one's readiness to compromise on all occasions, rather than meet opposition and fight it.  This addresses our willingness to surrender or coward away from issues we may face related to our goals.
8.  The habit of blaming others for one's mistakes, and accepting unfavorable circumstances as being unavoidable.  Many businesses are guilty of doing this (e.g. “this thing happened and it was out of our control“). Although there are things that happen that are out of our control, many of us have relied on that excuse far too often during our lives. If we really want to be honest with and challenge ourselves, we need to take a long hard look at this habit.
9.  WEAKNESS OF DESIRE, due to neglect in the choice of MOTIVES that impel action.  People who are struggling or suffering from this need to refer back to Chapter 3 in Think and Grow Rich on “Autosuggestion”.
10.  Willingness, even eagerness, to quit at the first sign of defeat. (Based upon one or more of the six basic fears).  Hill names the six basic fears in order of their most common appearance: Fear of poverty, criticism, ill health, loss of love of someone, old age and death.
11.  Lack of ORGANIZED PLANS, placed in writing where they may be analyzed.
12.  The habit of neglecting to move on ideas, or to grasp opportunity when it presents itself.
13.  WISHING instead of WILLING.  Note that “willing” does not mean by force. It means to accomplish and move in the direction of whatever it is that we want by use of focused and concentrated effort.
14.  The habit of compromising with POVERTY instead of aiming at riches. General absence of ambition to be, to do, and to own.
15.  Searching for all the short-cuts to riches, trying to GET without GIVING a fair equivalent, usually reflected in the habit of gambling, endeavoring to drive "sharp" bargains.  Bob Proctor told us that he never negotiates–he is not in search of a bargain.  He feels that he offers a fair price and others ask a fair price of him.
16.  FEAR OF CRITICISM, failure to create plans and to put them into action, because of what other people will think, do, or say. This enemy belongs at the head of the list, because it generally exists in one's subconscious mind, where its presence is not recognized.   How many times have you had a certainty that you are brilliant and have greatness in a certain area of your life but may have felt hesitant to share it because of the fear of criticism or possible rejection?  Acknowledging your brilliance, your genius, and your greatness is a very powerful thing to do as long as it comes from the heart and also provides a caring, loving service to others.  The world e is waiting for you to share what you have to offer! 
Hill says that the above weaknesses are the real enemies standing between you and noteworthy achievement.  He also provides four simple steps to developing the HABIT of persistence:
  1. A definite purpose backed by a burning desire
  2. A definite plan EXPRESSED in continuous ACTION
  3. A mind closed to ALL negativity and discouragement
  4. A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage you.  (This last point is really a Mastermind Group). 
I believe that modern day culture makes it tougher for entrepreneurs to be persistence than it was in Hill’s time.  Why?  Because we usually expect instant gratification and we are subjected to numerous distractions (we can be bombarded with more information in one day than people living in Hill’s time were bombarded with in an entire lifetime).
In our Think and Grow Rich Mastermind group, we study universal principles that strengthen our persistence muscle such as The Law of Gender, the Law of Cause and Effect — natural laws that governs the fundamental operation of life. 
For example, the Law of Gender states that seed has an incubation/gestation period.  We know that the gestation period in human reproduction is 266 days.  Your entrepreneurial dream also has a gestation period and, just like a physical seed, it will manifest itself in your physical reality if it is kept in an environment conducive to its growth during its gestation period!  We just do not know yet how long it takes a non-physical seed to gestate.
Success compounds–its roots are established in our daily habits. We cannot see the magnificence of the great oak tree while its seed is germinating in the ground, right?  Well,  so it is for the success you desire in your business (as long as you persist in habits that serve that objective).
As Charles Duhigg said, habits are not destiny and the key to becoming more productive and achieving success is understanding how habits work:

Remember, the most rewarding activities on the path to extraordinary entrepreneurial success are often the most challenging so be persistent!
flower and concreteConsider how, no matter how severe and cold the winter has been, the flowers always show up on cue in the spring–breaking through all the variables stacked up against them.  Some of them even crack through concrete!  
What cracks do you have to push through to truly blossom? How can you push a bit harder?  
What opposition or misfortune have you recently faced in your business? What tools have you used to reach past your opposition and achieve success? 
About Online Biz Boomer Babe

Rachel Lavern is a Certified Business Coach and founder of My Booming Online Business--a blog for middle-age, global, uptown women. She is on a mission to transform entrepreneurs' finances by teaching the action set, mindset and skill set needed to get launched + make money.


  1. Jessica Oman

    #11, yes! A plan – written down – always leads to more productivity. That’s where I come in – helping entrepreneurs create business plans that guide their launch and help them get funding. These are all great tips though…and I could definitely do better myself on a few of them ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Intelligent, thorough, well developed, and exactly what I’ve been looking for, and needed badly to read. Persistence will now become my mantra! I’m a little older than your target group, but BAM!
    Thank you, Rachel.
    — Linda
    Linda S Taylor recently posted…Political surveys that make you say โ€œSay what?โ€My Profile

  3. Peggy Champlin

    Persistance is definitely the characteristic I’m working most on. Not just when I feel like it, but all the time! Thanks for the reminder.

  4. The only way forward is laser focus. I have been working from home in Online Marketing for the past 8 years, and it has only been achievable by day to day focus on what I want to achieve and where I want to be.
    Steve Mills recently posted…Guardians of the Galaxy โ€“ New PosterMy Profile

  5. Hi Rachel. This is very timely for me, and I continue in my quest to find the perfect schedule. I had a sit-down with myself recently to think about what was most important and what needed doing every day (I’m easily distracted, and I go off on a tangent at the drop of a pin). Set myself a strict schedule, including time alloted, and I’ve been off to the races. Life is so much better when you try to rid yourself of all those unproductive habits. I appreciate your sharing.

    All the best,
    Leslie Denning recently posted…The Dreaded รขย€ย˜Pรขย€ย™ WordMy Profile

  6. What a splendid list, Rachel. I found myself nodding my head at several of them – I’m guilty of some, and have seen all of them in someone I know! I’ll bookmark this post and know I’ll return to it frequently to check on myself.

    Thanks for sharing

    Alan Jenkin recently posted…Dangers of Poor CommunicationMy Profile

  7. Excellent post Rachel!

    This is just too funny! As your site was loading and I could partially see your headline, I thought for sure
    it was something along the lines 16 habits of highly productive people!LOL!

    But once your site stopped loading and I actually saw your post headline, I thought, am I ready for this? But your post was excellent!

    But without a doubt, persistence wins the day! You really articulated every point, extremely well Rachel! Thanks!
    Mark recently posted…So Why Do Some Call It Economic Recession While Others Call It Opportunity!Part FourMy Profile

  8. Great article! Just…wow…

    I hate to admit, much to my disappointment in myself, that lack of acquiring specialized knowledge is what has held me back the most. When I was growing up, my parents introduced me and my sister to SO much that I felt like I could do ANYTHING! I never really specialized in anything. To be honest, I was never horrible at anything, and thus, I never chose to master anything (except singing, and even in that, I was good, not great.)

    This article both hurt my heart and inspired me. I was hurt because I can see I’ve not lived up to my potential. I am inspired because I am clear that, as long as I am alive, it’s not too late.

    Thank you for this. I needed to read it.
    Christi Johnson recently posted…On Being A Marketer Who Loves To Write โ€“ May The Two Of Me Continue To Meet!My Profile

  9. A very thorough review. I know one thing I need is a written down plan/funnel. That will allow me to be more persistent in my daily activities. I need to create that for myself or get some smart person to do it for me. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful and in-detailed review. I am sure this will help many.
    Nathaniel Kidd recently posted…Buying a Car vs Leasing a CarMy Profile

  10. Well said Rachel though I would add one thing to Hill’s list – failing to recognize that persistence does not mean simply doing the same thing over and over again – which may seem like an all too obvious thing to some people, but not at all to others. We persist to achieve a desired result but in the process we must learn and adjust our strategies accordingly.
    Marquita Herald recently posted…Stepping StonesMy Profile

  11. My unproductiveness lately stems from family matters. My stepmom’s cancer came out of remission last October and now, her health is failing big time. We’ve been taking turns in the family preparing for the inevitable. I can say that people are supportive and understanding during this time… but I still feel bad that a few things have been delayed.
    Nile recently posted…The Responsibility of a Website OwnerMy Profile

  12. Rachel,
    interesting that you wrote this great and detailed article relating what Napoleon Hill principle of success.. I am listening to the MP3 version of the book while I walk or do chores around my place..

    I read the book a few times before and some how I need a reminder from now and then.

    Your Mastermind seems to be a perfect match to have in order to be reminded and practice the principle more often till it become part of your daily routine to achieve success.

    The video is great as well… I liked mostly because he mentioned getting to the habit of NOT buying the cookie, he lost 12 LB .. that truly made me thing that it is so easy once we stay away from what we know if fattening..

    Thanks so much for such detailed summary of what is best to do and succeed.

    Nick Catricala recently posted…A Lifetime Commitment -Part 6 of 6My Profile

  13. Love the title of your post. Carnegie-inspired! Sometimes it is harder to turn a blind eye to bad habits when given a list like this….thank you for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚
    Betsy recently posted…Paint Dexter Plein Air FestivalMy Profile

  14. Every time I read this chapter in Think and Grow Rich, I wonder if I have made ANY progress since the last time. I wouldn’t know where to begin with this list, but probably the biggest one for me is procrastination — for many reasons, the biggest of which is perfectionism. I want all my ducks lined up in a row before I take action. But I’m working on that, and it is improving.
    Willena Flewelling recently posted…A Helping HandMy Profile

  15. well, this is a supportive article. Sometimes, my unproductive results do not come from myself, but from other external factors. However, I think that we can overcome these difficulties with our real effort. Thanks so much for your post. Keep it on!

Your thoughts?...


CommentLuv badge

This blog uses premium CommentLuv which allows you to put your keywords with your name if you have had 3 approved comments. Use your real name and then @ your keywords (maximum of 3)