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How To Deal With Procrastination At Work

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

Procrastination chronically affects roughly 20% of adults with 25% of adults claiming procrastination is a prominent personality trait of theirs. Although procrastination itself is not a mental illness, it is often linked as a side effect of disorders such as anxiety, depression, or even ADHD. Now, Procrastination does not mean to always underachieve, it means to delay or postpone action, which in mild cases isn’t too much of a bad habit. Although there are plenty of cases where procrastination is such a large habit, that the individual may struggle to complete daily work tasks or in worst-case scenarios any daily wellbeing tasks such as when you wake up or sleep, showering, eating, etc. Procrastinating has many negative effects which can then lead to difficulties at work and a decline in mental health. One of the most obvious ones is losing valuable time, a study revealed that on average, adults spend 218 minutes procrastinating every day which equates to 55 days of lost time every year. Most people who procrastinate are very aware of the habit yet can’t seem to gain control of it, this usually leads to having a very low sense of self-worth, beginning down their overall self-esteem. So in the workplace, it’s important to learn how to deal with procrastination in order to bring the best results for the business and yourself. In order to learn how to combat it, let’s learn what causes procrastination in the first place. Surprisingly to some, perfectionism can be the main contributor to procrastination. You may think perfectionism is a desirable trait since you would assume it would push you to do your best, but the negative side is that these types of people will have a fear of failure and in so may put off daunting tasks when they begin to doubt themselves. Sometimes it is just the simple lack of motivation to begin or complete the task that leads to procrastination, if you aren’t seeing a purpose in your work it can be difficult to come up with ideas or set goals in place. Every day we participate in plenty of monotonous tasks, but we see purpose in them so we are able to get through them, things such as doing the washing, brushing our teeth, managing money, etc, although we may not enjoy these things they all have a purpose and so we are able to complete them without much thought. Luckily, procrastination is only a habit, if you work to solve it then you can easily overcome the time management struggle and begin on a more stress-free and well-managed route of task completion. By coming to this blog, you’ve already completed the first step in losing this habit, which is realising that you do in fact procrastinate, or perhaps you’re still unsure if you do. If you’ve noticed habits such as, filling your time with low priority tasks, starting a task and then leaving it for extended periods of time, leaving things on your to-do list for longer than you should, or simply having a very “I’ll do it later” attitude, then you likely have developed the habit of procrastinating. The next step would be to find out why you procrastinate. If you would like a further look into this from the points already mentioned earlier, Smarter Thinking also has a blog addressing the reasons someone might procrastinate. As a last step to finding out the exact reason why, there are also plenty of procrastination tests on the web that you may find helpful. Moving forward you will likely want to begin incorporating anti-procrastination strategies into your work life, or even begin practicing with tasks at home to get comfortable using them and how well they work for you. One method is to drive your commitment to each task, take the time to organise what needs to be done and roughly how much time it should take, ensure that you provide plenty of breaks in your schedule as you wont want to overload yourself with piles of work in one day. It may be useful to talk with your team leader or your boss to help discuss the work expectations daily and weekly in order for you to not only avoid under-working but also over-working yourself. Another great method is having a reward scheme in place to help motivate you to complete the task. These rewards can be as simple as an extended break once the task is finished or going out to get some delicious bakery treats, whatever it is you choose to do as a reward, be sure to relish in how good it feels to have finally completed that task. An obvious solution is to minimise all distractions. What are the things you do when procrastinating? If it’s scrolling on social media, set a screen time cap or leave the phone in another room. If it’s watching tv, put on a something uninteresting to you or work in another room. Maybe other people are your distraction which can be difficult to solve if co workers are coming over to talk to you, learn to be assertive and cut the conversation when it begins to drag on for too long. Alongside minimising distractions you should attempt to create your ideal workspace where possible, if having things to fidget with helps you, make sure they’re readily available, or perhaps you work better in larger environments, make the effort to go out to a café to do some work. If you are interested in some further reading on the topic, “When” By Daniel Pink is a great read, recommended by Melissa of the Modern Mind Group.


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