Productivity: 15 Steps to Eliminate Procrastination in the Workplace
A precursor to stress is to find yourself in a situation where you’re not being productive in the office, and not knowing how to counter your predicament. Many factors, internal and external, contribute to procrastination and the stress it causes, so exercise some self-compassion. Consider incorporating some, or all, of the following steps to eliminate procrastination in the workplace.
The Initial Steps
01. Don’t Kid Yourself
Procrastinators are often not able to accept that they’re procrastinating. Think of it this way: if you know you have something urgent to do, yet you keep putting off in favour of tasks that are less urgent but more pleasant, then guess what? You are procrastinating. Fact.
Admit your procrastination and come up with ideas to help to deal with the fact, and change it.
02. Figure Out Why
Look deep inside yourself to do this. It will be easier if you’ve already owned up to your procrastination. Recognise that you’d rather play games or chat to friends than actually get stuck into what needs to be done! External influences are major side-trackers that aid in procrastination so, if this is your problem, simply cut them out. Yes, it is simpler than you think. Read on…
Your procrastination may be internal though – underlying feelings of depression, marital stresses, work performance doubts, ADHD or anxiety – these can all cause serious procrastination. If you recognise that this is the case, seek professional help. Don’t delay as these factors generally won’t improve on their own.
03. Take Responsibility
It’s up to you to own your procrastinating tendencies. It’s easy to blame your cell phone or messaging system for getting side-tracked but, ultimately, it is YOU that is allowing yourself to veer off course. Acknowledge this because, if you don’t, you’ll become a serial procrastinator very quickly.
04. Close Them! Switch It Off!
So you’ve taken responsibility. Now change your distraction status. Close your tabs. Switch off your cell phone. They’ll all still be there later, when you’ve completed that important task. If your procrastination is due to external factors, you’ll be going a long way to minimising it by eliminating distraction.
The Next Steps
05. Identify Possible Internal Reasons
Perhaps you’re stressed? Maybe your personal life is in turmoil? It could well be your emotional state and circumstances which are creating the barrier that prevents you from achieving optimum productivity. If this is the case, besides speaking to a professional, remember that a healthier body encourages a healthier mind. Make some lifestyle changes that could help you to be more productive.
06. Get Healthier
Try signing up at the gym, or going for a morning walk. There’s nothing better than physical exercise to stimulate your mind and make you feel better about yourself. Combine this with a healthy, nutritional breakfast and cut down on activities like smoking, or that lunchtime pub visit. Regulate your sleeping patterns – it may be a cliché but “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” is only recognised because there’s some truth to it.
07. Improve Your Working Environment
Brighten up your office with some colour. Add a plant or two and change that uncomfortable chair. Clear the clutter from your desk. A comfortable working environment goes a long way to improving self-motivation which, in itself, will reduce the subconscious need to seek more appealing but less pressing activities.
08. Create a “Mood Music” Playlist
This won’t suit everybody in the workplace. Certain people prefer to work in silence, but for those who find that music helps them to relax, or to concentrate better, a decent playlist can certainly help. Or a few playlists depending on the tasks at hand. Create one that you can play while you gym or while eating that healthy breakfast. Perhaps this would be something uplifting and vibey? Then, before you settle at your desk to start your working day, pop on one which enables you to focus on work. This probably won’t be Metallica or Eminem at this point…
The Final Steps
09. Focus on TODAY
You know which tasks need immediate completion. Make a “to-do’ list and schedule what you want to accomplish during the day, in order of importance. Stick to this list, adjusting it only when absolutely necessary (eg. unforeseen emergency tasks). Don’t move items further down the list only because you don’t feel like doing them.
10. Be Realistic
Forget about playing catch-up to your prior procrastination habits. Schedule yourself realistic daily targets. On occasion you may complete your scheduled tasks prior to knock-off time. When this happens add a further task and, if it’s incomplete at home time, add it to the top of your list for the next day.
By completing a sensible daily list on or ahead of schedule, you’ll provide yourself with a sense of accomplishment and further motivation for the following day’s work. Conversely, falling short of your target, due to unrealistic goals, will serve to demotivate you and will end up being counter-productive. For further information on this method of minimising procrastination, check out The Ivy Lee Method.
11. Create Personal Incentives
Devise a personal reward system to incentivise yourself to complete tasks. Perhaps, if you’re able to complete all of your scheduled tasks throughout a given week, treat yourself to a meal out with your loved ones, or to that round of golf you’ve been yearning for, as a reward.
12. Get Stuck In Immediately
If you working day starts at 8am, then START work at 8am. Get in early if you want to make coffee or chat with your colleagues. Self-discipline is the key to defeating procrastination, and any delays before starting your working day will only encourage opportunities for further delays as your day progresses. Be vigilant.
13. Set Mini-Goals
Should you struggle with concentration, set yourself mini-goals in time segments. This will encourage you to push through the allotted time before pausing. Whether these segments are 5 minute, 10 minute of half hour segments depends entirely on your personal concentration levels.
14. Eliminate Multitasking If You Can
If possible, get rid of any urge to multitask while procrastination is a problem. When you’re happy that you’ve solved that problem, you can go back to multitasking again. Before that, eliminate multitasking altogether if your job spec allows it. You’ll be further along the path to productivity if you can do this.
Nobody actually has the concentration levels to work non-stop for more than an hour or so at a time. Take regular short breaks and don’t feel guilty about taking them. As a procrastinator, without breaking, any attempt to maintain professional focus and do your best will only lead to sub-par performances and results. Always allow yourself to recharge before the next arduous stretch.
Procrastination, as a habit, is a difficult thing to break. If you have been able to identify it in yourself, remember that there are often background circumstances and reasons at play in your life that are serious and not immediately, or easily, rectified without expert assistance. Once you’ve identified that you suffer from procrastination, you are already on the path to resolution.
Be kind to yourself, and attempt to help yourself using CopyFounder‘s above steps to eliminate workplace procrastination. If necessary thereafter, seek out further assistance through a qualified professional.
Warren has been a freelance writing professional for nearly a decade. He runs the CopyFounder website and is a lover of the English language. His background in journalism, editing, copywriting, creative writing, content writing and marketing and an array of other fields has provided him with unique life experiences and an insight into numerous topics. Warren carries experience in writing and marketing for a variety of niches.
Warren is available for investigative, and other, journalism assignments and copywriting and content writing commissions. He can be contacted via his website.