5 Secret Destructive Behaviors You’re Probably Not Aware Of

destructive behaviors
This post was previously published. It has been updated.


If you were to come to me and tell me you weren’t as productive as you wished, and your life was complicated, I would tell you five things you probably do that contribute to this state of life.

The thing with organization, productivity, and simplification is that they all boil down to doing little things. Each area feeds into the others; with productivity comes a certain level of organization and simplification. These five destructive behaviors will derail all three, but can be stopped if you know you’re doing them.

Not Putting Things Away

One major cause of lost time is having to look for things. If you spend 30 seconds per day for a year looking for your keys, you will spend 3 hours a year just searching for your keys. Multiply that by anything you routinely hunt for: sunglasses, wallet, scissors, pen, paper, cell phone, files on the computer, library books. You get the idea.

Not only do you lose time with this, but it affects outlook. Imagine a day, if you will, where you are headed out the door with everything you need right at hand. Now imagine how you feel heading out the door, realizing that you need to stop and look for keys, shoes, wallet, and phone.

Putting things in a designated place when you are done with them is the sure-fire way to correct this problem. It will save hours of lost time and pounds of frustration.


Procrastinating is something we all do at one time or another. And for many reasons. But the end result is that something ends up not getting done, and then it weighs on our minds.

Most of the time, I find the things I have been procrastinating on end up not being as big of a deal, or as large an effort, as I had built it up in my mind. I spend time more time worrying about it than actually doing it.

Making small and steady progress on a task is a good way to free up those mental cycles and move toward the bliss of completion.

Not Writing Things Down

Our minds cannot hold all the details about everything going on in our lives. Eventually, something is going to slip past even the best memory. For those of us with poorer memories, not writing things down is tantamount to ignoring it. I often tell my husband that if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist.

It takes mental energy to hold on to all the details of a busy life. Our brains are not static memory; energy is required, like a computer’s memory, to hold things in active focus.

Writing things down allows us to free up the effort our brain must put in to hold onto all the details of our lives. (Just be careful — things written down must be processed!)


We live in a very cerebral world. Far from the days when most of us relied more on our bodies than minds to survive, we now rely on our brains. As a consequence of this, we think. About everything.

With all this practice thinking about things, our brains start analyzing. And go into overdrive. Over-thinking can lead to indecision and paralysis.

A good way to get past this is to ask yourself what the long-term consequences of your decision will be. Can it be undone later? Does it really matter in the long term? If it won’t matter in a month, or a year, then don’t waste your time looking for the perfect option.

Not Balancing

Work-life balance isn’t the only type of balance people struggle with today, although it is a large one. Balance also comes from making sure that you do “everything in moderation.” Whether it is socializing, reading, surfing the web, or other activities, if it dominates your non-work life your quality of life will suffer.

On a larger extent this is also true of work and life. If your work hours are taking over all the other hours you have for the rest of your life, you are setting yourself up for a world of discontent (no matter how much you love your job).

Making a conscious effort to vary what you do will decrease the chance that any one thing will dominate your life.

Destructive behaviors can be small things that whittle away at our contentment. Do you have any others to add? Comment below.

1 Comment

  1. NP Jara

    I’m guilty of not putting things away. I guess when you add up the time that is spent in looking for things, it really takes a bunch of time, time that could be used in other tasks.

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