Do you often find yourself scrambling to finish your to-do lists? Let’s explore ways to prevent falling too far behind.
Be it at work or at home, do you sometimes lack the motivation to get things done? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. An increasingly large number of adults struggle with accomplishing their day-to-day tasks and chores. It becomes a problem when it affects your productivity at work. As a professional, overcoming procrastination to perform assigned tasks and meet deadlines is an expectation. Procrastination can throw a wrench in your daily schedule. Stop procrastination in its tracks.
How do I stop procrastinating at work?
Overcoming procrastination starts by being more present. This means, we pay attention to detail, take notes, and track progress. As we try to be proactive in finding a solution, let’s take a look at a few strategies that could be helpful:
1. A little goes a long way!
This isn’t just a popular saying but a fact of life. Even doing one tiny task can set the tone for a productive work period. The point is to get started, no matter how small. Tackle one small aspect of a project at a time. It can be overwhelming to take on a huge project. Breaking it down into smaller tasks and goals can help immensely.
We suggest chalking out a game plan of actionable items. Need to write a report or an article? Start by creating an outline. Looking to design a website or something similar? Work on getting just the images done today. Does your office need reorganizing? Let’s declutter one corner at a time.
2. Get started!
One benefit of getting started is that things tend to feel easier as you go. It will help you get tasks done once you’re in the flow of things. You might find yourself moving at a good pace and if things get monotonous, you can always take a break and revisit later. When working on a big project, start by conducting research. That one action helps you get in the zone.
Make a to-do list and let us assure you, you’ll enjoy checking off tasks. Lists helps one stay organized and prioritize better.
You know that feeling of relief when you finally get something completed and out of the way? When you know, you don’t have to worry about it anymore? It feels great! If you can’t think of any other reason to start on a task, think of how much better it would be to just have it done rather than waiting to be finished!
3. Reward Yourself
Quite often we take ourselves for granted. We fail to show ourselves the appreciation we deserve. If you work in data entry, boredom is bound to strike. This is true for most professions unless you work in an adrenaline-charged environment such as a skydiving instructor. Most jobs will have times when you have to drag yourself to complete tasks. Knowing that there’s something waiting for you at the end of the tunnel is motivating.
We suggest that for every chore you mark off your to-do list, allow yourself a cookie. Or, for every email you respond to, give yourself five minutes to play computer games. For bigger projects, promise yourself a new outfit or piece of jewelry. Treat yourself for your good behavior and accomplishments! At the end of the week, maybe you make plans to play Mario Cart with coworkers.
Having an incentive to get something done is more likely to force you to do what you need to do. Reward yourself for overcoming procrastination. It gives you that extra push to get done with monotonous tasks.
4. Break it down
One effective strategy to get the task at hand down is breaking up projects into smaller, more manageable pieces. You don’t have to have a full plan. As long as you can identify what the next step is you should be good. Divide your task into smaller, less daunting fragments. The less you have to do at one time, the easier it will be to complete tasks!
Turn the next step into a bite-sized piece. Then, complete the task.
5. Always ask, “What’s next?”
Constantly ask yourself what the next step would be. This often helps break out of mental blocks. When encountering a problem or a situation, ask yourself what would be the rational thing to do.
Being solutions-oriented helps manage workload. It can also help you rotate your perspective on a project you’re struggling completing.
Asking “What’s next?” is effective for overcoming procrastination and improving your overall attitude towards a project.
6. Remove distractions
The average worker is constantly bombarded by a lot of elements. Identify the distractions in your workspace and formulate a plan to eliminate them. Do you have noisy coworkers? A do-not-disturb sign in your cubicle or on your office door might send out a subtle message. Is the music too loud? Speak with the person in charge or use headphones. Every distraction can be avoided or managed. Our smartphones are undoubtedly the biggest source of distractions. Updates from every single app on it, texts from friends and family, and every other notification are active distractions.
Declutter your workspace. Put your phone away or silence all notifications. Turn off the TV. Let your family and friends know you’re working and not to disturb you. Here’s a few more tips for setting up a distraction free office space.
If working from a home office, try to keep your pets away if applicable. Don’t allow anything to interrupt your thought process – get into the mindset that you have work to complete and then don’t let your mind stray!
More working from home resources:
7. Ask for help
This is where many of us fall short. Asking for help shows that you’re trying to perform better at your job. Asking experts to help on parts of a task that are out of your expertise, is a great idea! Sometimes just letting a person sit next to you can also solve the problem.
Ask a friend or family member to keep you in check. Have them regularly ask for updates from you. Make sure it’s a person you would be upset to disappoint! Hopefully, their words of encouragement will keep you going.
8. Identify when you’re most productive
Every person is different. Some of us are more productive in the morning while others prefer the afternoons and evenings. Try to create a schedule that plays to your strengths. Not a morning person? Schedule the afternoons to do deep work. If evenings bring out the best in you, accomplish the less taxing tasks in the morning. The trick is to find what works best for you as an individual. Try to accomplish the big tasks when your productivity is at its peak.
In conclusion, as professionals, we owe it to ourselves to do justice to our jobs. We’ve spent so much time and effort in training and preparing to be where we are. It would be a shame to ruin it all due to poor management skills on our part. Not all jobs will bring you joy in every single moment. Some days are going to be less eventful than others. There will be days when you find yourself swamped with work. Do not let your days dictate the kind of worker you are.
Show up and accomplish tasks even when you don’t feel like doing so. Overcoming procrastination is part of adulting. In the real world, there’s fierce competition to succeed. It is vital to put your best foot forward every day. We hope our compilation of strategies will help you be a productive worker.
Anna Reeve, MBA