Astero StarFish

9 Biggest Productivity Drains and Their Solutions

Productivity Drains and Solutions
Wondering why you can’t get your work done at work? We crowdsourced this dilemma to our employees, and they shared their biggest productivity drains and solutions.
Spoiler alert: there were nine drains and five of them share the same solution.

Insufficient Information to Complete Tasks

Productivity takes a hit when I have partial information and need to scavenge for the rest of it. This may involve multiple follow-ups and waiting for approvals in order to go ahead and proceed. While sometimes necessary, they definitely cause a productivity drag. Solution: To mitigate this, I usually meet with all stakeholders involved to address the issue(s) and come up with a solution. I also bring information from past instances so I can provide data to help stakeholders make an informed decision.

Silos and Lack of Transparency

The biggest productivity drag in any work is when there is no transparency and clarity on the tasks assigned, silos between cross-functional teams. It becomes a real challenge to move forward, complete the task and meet the deadline with clarity. Solution: The way I approach such a situation is to come forward as a collaborator and a team player and break those silos, function as one team to achieve success and reach the goal.


Having to multitask, flipping between different tasks throughout the day, often due to excessive meetings or calls, is the main impact on my productivity. Solution: When there is an important task that I need to focus on, I will book my own calendar and set my status to unavailable so that I can get through a continuous segment of my day to concentrate on a single task without interruptions.

Depending on the day, there can be multiple productivity drags on my work. At times I find myself constantly switching between tasks that can reduce efficiency, other times conversing with colleagues drags me away from my work. Solution: To address these, I end my week by prioritizing tasks to be completed the next week and adding time slots to my calendar for completing these tasks. Small but dedicated intervals provide satisfaction knowing that I was able to achieve what I set out as my goals.


Unnecessary meetings are common (meetings that could have been an email). Another meeting-related drag is not having any kind of agenda for a meeting. Solution: Agendas improve communication and participation (people who need more time to think can prepare themselves for upcoming discussion, for example) and clearly give the objective and purpose of the meeting. Online Solution: Partly as a joke, I actually developed and adapted a little tool to use when deciding if we need a meeting.

Being booked in meetings all day is my biggest productivity drag. I have no time to decompress between meetings or take actions on what is discussed in the meetings. Solution: When I realize this is happening, I start booking private meetings in my calendar.

I find that people book time with me when it’s available, but they don’t book me when there’s already something happening. Solution: Sometimes, when I have multiple busy days, I book a whole morning or afternoon off in my calendar and schedule all the tasks for thinking time to get caught up.

Context Switching

Hopping from project to project in rapid succession is inefficient, as your brain needs time to realign to the new context. Solution: To combat that, I like to intentionally chunk out time in my calendar to focus on specific deliverables. If I can prepare ahead of time for what’s to come, then I find I am more easily able to knock off tasks in an efficient manner.

Email Interruptions

Constant email interruptions were a big productivity drain. Solution: Now, I turn off notifications and respond to emails in batches. This helps me stay focused on deep work, and I set aside dedicated times to check and respond to emails. This approach has significantly improved my ability to stay productive.

Frequent task interruption

Frequent task interruption slows down my work big time. It disrupts flow and increases cognitive load.

Distractions – whether its something going on near me in the workspace or something stuck in my mind. Solution: If it’s an external (something around me), sometimes I put on headphones or move somewhere else. Solution: If its internal, I often write down what’s distracting me so it can be off my mind until the end of the workday.

Getting pulled in a different direction – sometimes when I’ve reached my stride (or peak productivity) on one project, it can be difficult to get back to it after being pulled onto another project. Zen-Based Solution: But that is also the reality of project-based work and keeps things interesting.

Now that you know our employees’ biggest productivity drains and their solutions, block some time on your calendar and send us your productivity drains and solutions in the blog comment section.

Image: Adobe Stock

Astero StarFish is the attributed author of StarFish Medical team blogs.  We value teamwork and collaborate on all of our medical device development projects.

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