4 Things That Are Holding You Back From Peak Performance (& How To Fix It)


Perhaps you’ve noticed that no matter what you seem to do, you seem to be perennially tired when you get back from work, regardless of how strenuous (or not) your tasks were for the day.

Or maybe you’ve realised that you’re sabotaging yourself at the workplace by allowing your perfectionistic tendencies to hold you back from increased productivity.


Good on you. You’re in an excellent position to take a metaphorical step back and do a personal performance review to work out the kinks. To help you out, here are five reasons for personal underperformance you might want to consider.

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Personal habits


1. Poor self-management

Being able to prioritise between tasks and manage your time and energy accordingly, as well as having a proper system in place for maximizing personal productivity: both are essential self-management skills for success in the workplace. Without them, you’ll find yourself constantly exhausted and in a perpetual race against time.


Everything is your top priority

When everything on your to-do list is a priority, you’ll end up stretching yourself thin while also multi-tasking inefficiently between tasks, which itself can be a huge productivity killer.


The most successful people start their day having already planned it out the night before. Alternatively, you could implement Robin Sharma’s “5 AM club” advice and use the extra few hours to look at your personal goals so you can plan and prioritise your day strategically.

You could also start writing a prioritised daily task list that helps you to see where you should devote most of your resources for the day. If the problem is that you’re not sure which tasks are more important, seek advice from a co-worker or speak to your supervisor about it.


Disruptive personal productivity habits

Habitualising yourself to a seemingly innocuous practice like email-checking may initially seem like a necessary evil in the modern workplace. The fact, though, is that it’s detrimental to productivity. When you’re compulsively checking your email, it does not feel like it takes up that much of your time, but ultimately it all adds up at the end of the day.


Tracking your productivity processes is a must if you intend on improving your performance. It isn’t just for show; you need it to find a comfortable routine that works for you in maximising your performance.

Remember: what works for someone else might not necessarily work for you. Consider work-style differences and even biological rhythm differences. A morning person is better suited to applying himself to his most difficult tasks first thing in the morning, while the same approach has a counterproductive effect on someone who thrives in the afternoon.


Personal beliefs


2. Low self-efficacy

“Self-confidence” implies a generalised positive self-appraisal and is a term that gets thrown around a lot in self-help circles. Everyone knows that self-confidence is a must-have for those who seek success, but the journey towards it can be a tricky one.

In a workplace context, self-efficacy may be a more useful concept; it refers to your belief in your ability to accomplish a particular task. Instead of being a generally positive feeling about yourself, self-efficacy is based on whether you think you have the requisite skill sets and talents to realistically do well.


Research has shown that high self-efficacy often relates to high performance. Simply put, your performance at work doesn’t just rest on how good you generally feel about yourself, but on how much you think you can do well on a particular task based on your corresponding skill level.

Some ways to improve your self-efficacy:

  • Set realistic and achievable personal goals: use the SMART framework
  • Keep working on your skill sets: take training courses independently or suggest them to your supervisor
  • Go out of your comfort zone to push your learning experiences
  • Ask for challenging assignments that will improve your skills and self-efficacy tremendously


3. Perfectionism

The perfectionist attitude is still generally lauded most circles today, but the truth is that perfectionists are also the ones who are most at risk of falling behind at work.

Don’t be surprised. Believing that you, everything and everyone around you has to be perfect isn’t actually praiseworthy.

Perfectionism doesn’t always look like over-achieving. As long as you expect yourself and your work to be perfect, no amount of achievement will ever be enough for you.


You might find yourself opting more and more to procrastinate to get things done perfectly. You’re extra resistant to change and adaptation because the only way you think you can do something perfectly is your way. You take your failures at work as an indication of your utter worthlessness.

All of this adds up to workplace underperformance. Here’s how to break the cycle:

  • Start practicing “good-enough” actions at work
  • Be realistically optimistic
  • Adopt a growth mindset; reframe failures as learning opportunities

Read more about curing yourself from perfectionism here.


Job Satisfaction

4. Burnout

Paradoxically, being overworked doesn’t guarantee better job performance. In fact, it will probably even be detrimental to it.

Burnout is not a badge of honour awarded to the select few extra-hardworking employees in the office. Its adverse effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health are real. Once you find yourself burning out, it’s hard to get back on track.

Your ability to focus suffers because you’re so tired, you’re borderline apathetic about the quality of your work as long as it gets done, and you may even start resenting the people around you, creating a toxic work atmosphere for everyone. It’s not a good place to be.


If you’re already burnt out and are looking for a way out, here’s what you can do to cure yourself:

  • Step back and re-group
  • Reach out for support
  • Stop expecting yourself to be perfect all the time
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Turn off your “work mode” outside of work

(Read more about curing burnout here.)

It’s vital that you know yourself and practice self-awareness in this regard so you can spot the warning signs of burnout early to prevent it from occurring. A good employee isn’t one who overworks herself; it’s one who can perform well while maintaining a work-life balance.


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