How to Avoid Procrastination at Work

TSP • @myTSPnet


Procrastination is an easy, albeit negative, habit to fall into. When you’re procrastinating, you know what you should be doing, you just don’t want to do it. Whether it’s because you feel like there’s a better time, or you don’t have the necessary resources on hand, it’s natural to put a daunting task off for too long. However, procrastinating tends to add stress to our already chaotic lives.

The procrastination phenomenon squanders our free time, putting off important tasks we should be doing until it is too late. Once it’s too late, we panic and often wish we could go back in time and start the task earlier. Chronic procrastinators can spend their entire life in this cycle, which prevents them from achieving greater results in life. Below are the best ways to avoid procrastination at work.

Regardless if you prefer having a planner full of deadlines or a to-do list, figure out a system to keep all of your tasks straight. Once you can clearly see when projects are due, it becomes more difficult to put them off until later.

Part of the reason procrastination is human nature is that we’re subconsciously overwhelmed by the prospect of a task. If you have a major project due in a week, it’s easy to put it off until the last minute to avoid the daunting nature of it. Instead of sitting down and committing to finishing the project in a single day, break it up into smaller pieces. That way, you can complete pieces of the project throughout the week, which will make your goal less intimidating and more attainable.

In a similar manner, when setting your goals, it may be helpful to keep in mind that it’s easier to finish harder tasks first. While initially it may seem counter-intuitive, once you finish the harder tasks, everything after will be drastically easier to accomplish.

When breaking a larger project into smaller stages, try your best to focus on the immediate task at hand. When one piece is done, simply move on to the next. By implementing this habit, every project will soon become more manageable.

After you set your goals, create a timeline or a schedule, allocating time for you to complete each deliverable. Regardless of if you’re working on a task big or small, dedicate a specific time to accomplish it. If you specify an entire hour in your day to one thing on your to-do list, it’ll be more difficult to put it off.

Use this opportunity to tell someone you trust about your goals so that they can hold you accountable. For instance, if you’re determined to get something done by Friday, ask your coworker or friend to follow up with you about it on Wednesday. Once you’ve completed a task, you’ll have someone else to celebrate its completion with you.

It’s essential to remove all potential disruptions from your workspace before you begin a task. Doing so reduces the risk of getting needlessly sidetracked halfway through an important task. If you get distracted by your phone, put it on do not disturb, turn it completely off or leave it in another room. Similarly, if you’re often distracted by external sources, like coworkers, try to work in a more isolated area or put on classical music to drown out chatter. Basically, eliminate all temptation to procrastinate when working.  

It’s important to examine how your work environment impacts your productivity. When examining your work area, question whether it inspires you or creates more stress in your life. Whether your work area makes you want to go to sleep or distracts you with clutter, consider how you could change your space to optimize productivity.

To be more productive, it’s important to take scheduled breaks at some point while working. While you can spend the 15-20-minute breaks catching up on social media or watching a quick episode of Netflix, make the most of your breaks by resetting your mind. From doing a mindfulness exercise to taking a walk, once you get back to work, your productivity will increase drastically. 

Being rewarded for a job well done is always exciting, so use that same philosophy to reward yourself after accomplishing something on your to-do list. You can incentivize yourself with something as small as watching an episode of your favorite TV show or as grand as taking a staycation at a local hotel. Not only is it easier to get something important done when there is something at stake, but you’ll feel even more accomplished when it’s finished.

Ultimately, ridding the cycle of procrastination requires you to take action. While strategizing, hypothesizing and planning can be helpful, if you don’t commit to being more on top of your work, little will change.