How To Overcome Procrastination At Work

How To Overcome Procrastination At Work

Imagine yourself in this hypothetical scenario; you have been given a difficult and enormous task to submit in two days by your boss. You are extremely nervous to start because of the daunting nature of the work, so you leave or put it off till later. The due date for submission comes and you’re working furiously and battling hard to complete the task before the close of work.  It takes you just 35 minutes to get the job done. In the process, you realize you are cursing and kicking yourself silently for not starting sooner. What went wrong? What made you lose your focus? How did this happen? The answer is simple; you were a victim of procrastination.

Procrastination is a trap that most workers and employees easily fall into. Overcoming it on the other hand takes a combination of determination, skill, and will. From the hypothetical scenario above, the worker or employee probably spent hours and days checking social media, re-reading emails, and listening to and watching news channels, instead of getting down on the task. Although it may be comforting knowing that procrastination is a general problem globally, it is sobering realizing and find out just how much it holds you back and gets you in trouble with your employer and organization.  Therefore, this article will help workers with tips on how to overcome procrastination.


Meaning Of Procrastination

The word procrastination simply means postponing and constantly delaying a task, work, or something important. Procrastination at work is arguably the worst of all forms of procrastination. The constant cycle of procrastination always starts with “I’ll do it later”, grows into “I’ll do it tomorrow” and ends with you having a huge pit of shame in your stomach, once tomorrow comes and you are yet or unable to get started.


Why Do People Procrastinate At Work? 

Employees and people procrastinate for a number of reasons; first, some workers and employees procrastinate because they believe they work best under pressure. While that may be true, it doesn’t change the fact that procrastinating is arguably a bad work habit. Secondly, other workers and employees procrastinate because of indecision, self-doubt, and fear; you are worried that the outcome of the task won’t be perfect, and hence you procrastinate. Also, some individuals procrastinate at work because of anxiety; they become too anxious about a given task that they keep putting it off.  Relatively, some individuals prefer working on something else and thus, end up procrastinating.  Research has also shown that some workers procrastinate when nice friends and weather distract them from their work. On the other hand, others choose to procrastinate when they are being forced to get specific work done against their will.



Tips On Overcoming Procrastination At Work

Fighting procrastination can be very difficult, especially if you’ve gotten used to doing it for a lot of your assignments, projects, and tasks. However, the following tips should help you overcome procrastination at work;

  • Drop the perfectionist mentality and lower your expectations.
  • Keep your task small and always have a to-do list.
  • Stick to a schedule and set time-bound goals.
  • Have a functional support system.
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Promise yourself a reward
  • Minimize distractions
  • Tackle the hardest tasks at your peak times

Drop the perfectionist mentality and lower your expectations: Most procrastinators’ Achilles heel revolves around striving for perfection. To them, all work, tasks, or assignments must be perfect. Similarly, the perfectionist mentality or perfectionism is an all-or-nothing mentality. Nothing other than perfection is acceptable; workers or employees with perfectionistic tendencies and mentality often wait for everything to be in place before they proceed. The environment must be perfect, the time must be perfect; else, they believe they can’t start. This mentality often holds procrastinators back from starting or completing tasks.   However, strive for “good enough and acceptable”, lower your expectations and give in your best. This will enable you to overcome procrastination at work.

Keep your task small and have a to-do list: The lack of a to-do list is another proponent for procrastination at work. Experts suggest that you make every day productive by keeping your task small. That way, you’ll have bite-sized tasks that are a bit easier to digest, rather than a five-course meal that will take up all of your energy, and more than likely make you procrastinate. Also, having and keeping a to-do list will prevent you from conveniently forgetting about those tasks you find overwhelming, uninteresting, and unpleasant.

Stick to a schedule and set time-bound goals: To overcome procrastination at work, set specific deadlines and time-bound goals for each task. This will help you complete tasks on time and mean that you have no room for procrastination. Also, you should create a schedule to accommodate the aforementioned time-bound goals. A calendar, sticky notes on your laptop or computer, and/or a journal may suffice. Depending on your nature of work, those schedules can be revised at the end of a work year.

Have a functional support system: No individual was born on an island, and no successful individual made it alone. At some point, they had a support system; be it parents, siblings, tutors, coworkers, mentors, or friends. Therefore, try and have a functional support system that will check up on you from time to time, to make sure you get work done and avoid procrastination.  Similarly, peer pressure works. Hence, find and join self-help groups that can check up on you regularly, if you don’t have that co-worker, friend, or family member to rely on.

Practice mindfulness: Breaking the procrastination cycle can be a bit hard on your mind at first. So, just make sure you listen to your body and give it what it needs unless it’s screaming at you to abandon the task. In such a scenario, take quick short breaks and maybe go out for a quick walk instead of giving in to procrastination. The small intermission will give you some time to relax and refresh your brain when you decide to go back to your task.

Promise yourself a reward: A subtle yet effective way of overcoming procrastination at work is by rewarding yourself for each work done. At the completion of every task or project, give yourself a treat, eat that special meal you often crave and go watch that TV program you rarely have time for because of your work. Even if it’s just for an hour, indulge in that activity to celebrate your hard work. That way, you become more motivated to get work done on time and subsequently stay off procrastination.

Minimize distractions: More often than not, procrastination is enhanced by distractions in and around the work setting. Distractions from your emails, social media, and television can make you procrastinate at work. Therefore, ensure that you turn off your electronic devices when working; the exception will be situations where you need them to get work done. Also, avoid noisy environments when working as well, as it may serve as a precursor for procrastination.

Tackle the hardest tasks at your peak times: Do you work better in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Identify when you are most effective and do the tasks that you find most difficult at these times. This will help you overcome procrastination.

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