Procrastination at work is a costly and disruptive problem for any organization.
The cost of procrastination can be a steep one when it’s not controlled. In many corporates, hardly a few active steps are taken to measure and manage the occurrence of procrastination.
What is Procrastination
Is procrastination just being lazy? Do you consciously delay the work despite knowing the degree of importance?
On the surface, procrastination does seem like laziness, but if you deep dive, its more than that. People who procrastinate aren’t just sitting idle while putting off the work. They rather focus on other tasks or routines instead.
Put simply, procrastination is putting off the task that one should be doing. You delay the task and focus on other unimportant tasks. Procrastination is a human condition. Research shows that 95% of people admit to putting off work.
Procrastination is a process when you choose to do something else instead of the important task. It is an act of delaying and postponing the task.
Procrastination is mostly an emotional reaction to something we don’t want to do. Procrastination is about delaying an important work, project, task, or assignments.
Why the procrastination
There are several reasons why people procrastinate. Some people procrastinate as they are distracted, lack focus, or are simply not motivated for the work. You are overwhelmed with the amount or complexity of work that you just don’t get started.
Sometimes, you are procrastinating because you are simply not in a mood to work and you are scrolling through your smartphone and wasting time mindlessly. You have no idea how much precious time is wasted just because you are not ready for the work.
Procrastination has tremendous negative repercussions on your performance, health, and life.
Negative repercussions of Procrastination
Chronic Procrastination can damage your reputation at your workplace. The cost of procrastination in professional life is simply too large to ignore. Your spilling of tasks over time can be detrimental to your professional reputation.
The professional assignments are time-bound. Tasks are supposed to be completed within a stipulated time. Unchecked procrastination can often lead to missed deadlines and delay the deliverables.
If you don’t complete the task on time or constantly delay the task, you may be filled the guilt. The guilt that originated from the procrastination is not good for your self-esteem. You feel good when you have a strong work ethic.
If you don’t keep your procrastination in check, you may miss tons of life-changing opportunities. For instance, your procrastination on the job preparation may cost you big, and you may not able able to change jobs for 6 months to a year.
Strategies for overcoming your procrastination:
1) Accept that you are procrastinating
The first step to overcoming the procrastination is to accept that you are procrastinating. You can’t stop procrastinating if you live in a denial.
2) Figure out the root cause of your procrastination
Before overcoming procrastination, you have to get to the root cause of it. The common reasons we tend to procrastinate as the
- Task is unpleasant
- Task is boring
- The task is not enjoyable
- Task is difficult
- Task is ambiguous
- Task is unstructured
- Task is lengthy
- The task is not rewarding
- The task is not easier
3) Do something to get started
Starting the task is the biggest hurdles you have to overcome. Once you get started something, you have successfully overcome the initial hump of starting it in the first place.
4) Assess the cost of procrastination
Assessing the cost of procrastination will help you recognize the importance of the task you are putting off. If you are not mindful, your procrastination can affect your job, finances, stress, happiness, health, etc.
5) You are distracted: Just Disconnect
Distraction is the reality of modern lives. Our devices cause a plethora of distractions, whether it’s email, social media notifications, reading online news, chatting with friends/family, wasting time on the internet. Just disconnect from the internet, turn off your devices, and focus on the task to be completed.
6) Finish the most important task for 30 min
Instead of planning to finish the whole task at once, just start working on the most important task for 30 minutes. This way you will get started and be able to find the rhythm in your work. Once you have worked for 30 min, take a 5-minute short break.
7) Start your day with the hardest task first
Make a plan in the morning to start your day with the hardest task first. You will be afresh and energized in the morning. Tackle your most arduous work right then. You will feel better once you make progress and will be confident for the rest of the day.
8) Break down the task into small chunks
Breaking down the task in small chunks will make it look less intimidating. You will be less dreaded to approach the work thereafter. Consider incorporating a specific technique like Pomodoro, where you can take breaks at planned intervals.
9) Make a concrete to-do list
Avoid making a long, ambiguous, and disorganized to-do list. This is just setting yourself up for failure. Instead, create a small and meaningful to-do list and try to check off a few entries from the list every day.
10) Done is better than perfection
Procrastination and perfectionism often go hand in hand. Trying to achieve perfection in your work might be holding yourself. You have achieved nothing until it is done. Get rid of your vision of perfection and deliver the first cut.
11) Make yourself accountable
Accountability of the work can help you overcome procrastination. Having ownership of the work provides you a sense of purpose that drives you towards the completion of the work.
12) Set the deadline for the work
Timed goals are more likely to be achieved than those without the set timelines. Setting the time, approaching the work backward is a great strategy to complete the task within time.
13) Reward yourself upon completion of tasks
Completing one task will boost your self-confidence. You will be motivated to take up other tasks or challenges. Reward yourself on every small achievement. With sustained practice, you can learn to get over procrastination.
Accountability and rewards are other ways to control the cost of procrastination at the workplace.
Everyone procrastinates. There are times when you don’t feel like working on pending items. You put off things because there are many things on your plate. The list continues to pile up as you tend to ignore tasks.
Don’t wait for the perfect moment to start your work. You have to be disciplined to start work even when you don’t feel like it. Some things in life are meant to be completed irrespective of your interest. You can’t put off everything on your whim.
Procrastination is a habit and like any bad habit, it can be overcome. Starting is the biggest hurdle you have to overcome. Procrastination can sabotage your career and business if not kept in check. Remember, if you don’t start, you won’t go anywhere, but when you start, you will at least go somewhere !!