We’ve all had those days where we just can’t seem to get anything started. There are tasks you know you need to get done but you're avoiding them. You keep putting them off and working on other things instead. You, my friend, are procrastinating.
It’s not that you aren’t getting any work done; you're just delaying or postponing a specific action or task. Over time, too much avoidance can affect your productivity. Fortunately, making a few subtle changes in your approach can improve your productivity at work. In this article, we'll discuss common reasons why we procrastinate at work and provide you with effective tips to bust your bad procrastination habits.
why we procrastinate
People procrastinate for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common are:
- you don’t enjoy doing a certain task
- you are worried about a negative result or poor performance
- the task is challenging
- it’s an action that makes you anxious
- you put it off because you have plenty of time
- there isn’t a clear direction or order of steps
- little value or no reward
ways to bust bad procrastination habits
Want to get more done at work? Put a halt to workplace procrastination with these simple tips:
1. create a realistic to-do list
To-do lists are highly effective, that is, if you create realistic lists. You can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on yourself by creating to-do lists that are not manageable within the amount of time you have to work on them. Be realistic with your time, how long tasks take to complete, and how much you can get done during a given, day, week, or month.To-do lists are highly effective, that is, if you create realistic lists. You can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on yourself by creating to-do lists that are not manageable within the amount of time you have to work on them. Be realistic with your time, how long tasks take to complete, and how much you can get done during a given, day, week, or month.
2. start with a task you enjoy
Always start off the day with something you like to do. This will help to get you into the flow of the work day. It can be something as small as checking your email, having a daily huddle with your team, reviewing your schedule, or anything that gets you in the right work mentality. Plus, you will be able to check something off your to-do list.
3. break down tasks into smaller, more manageable actions
People often procrastinate when they feel overwhelmed. One effective way to make things more manageable is to break down a task into smaller, easier to manage actions. Focusing on completing these smaller actions one by one until the larger task is complete.
4. stop overpromising
Overpromising can put a lot a pressure on you to perform. If you can’t do something, say so. You have limited time and it’s important to manage it well. When you overpromise, it’s easy to get stressed about everything you need to do. You end up stressing about what you need to do instead of actually getting it done.
5. don’t try to multitask
Focus on one thing at a time. Give your full and undivided attention until the task is complete. Once done, move on to the next thing you need to work on. Continue this process until you complete all your tasks for the day.
6. sort tasks by priority
Sorting daily tasks by priority allows you to get the most important things done first, when you are fresh. Tasks can take longer than we anticipate and other things can arise during the day. If you start with the most important tasks, even if you don’t complete your whole list, the most important things we still get done.
7. commit to a deadline
Setting a timeline for tasks is important. It can help you plan tasks short and long term. You have a better idea of when to work on tasks, and most importantly, when you absolutely must complete them.
8. cut down distractions
Distractions are a time killer. They take your attention away from what you need to do and break your focus. Close your email, put away your phone, and mute social media alerts.
9. start each day fresh
Forget past procrastination. There's no need to dwell on the past. Even if you had a tough day previously, focusing your efforts on today’s tasks will help you catch up. Remember, some days you won’t get as much done as you would like, but you’ll also have days where you accomplish a lot.
10. take short but frequent breaks
It's challenging for people to concentrate at full capacity for more than 90 minutes at a time. Once you pass this threshold, your efficiency will go down and you will have greater difficulty concentrating. Tackle tasks in realistic blocks. Take frequent short breaks to keep your mind fresh and allow yourself to recharge.
Procrastination at work is common. But it can also affect your overall performance. If you tend toward procrastinating, try the tips above to reduce your temptation to avoid certain tasks and actions in the workplace.