Maybe we should leave this article for another time…
Workplace procrastination is the worst kind of self-fulfilling prophesy. It’s de-motiving, demoralizing, and cripples the culture you’ve worked so hard to build.
If you are actively procrastinating then you may find you do your best work with the clock ticking down to the final seconds as you finish a job , in which case your procrastination fuels your eventual production. However, if you fall into the category of passive procrastination and find yourself chronically postponing tasks and becoming indecisive, you need to make changes.
Let’s look at the 5 keys for avoiding workplace procrastination.
1: Uncover the Source
The first step in reducing the amount of procrastination is to analyze why it’s happening. Perhaps work itself is ill conceived or you haven’t been equipped with the proper resources, skills or instructions and it is holding you hostage. Or maybe you simply don’t have a taste for the work, and so you put it off. You may need to self-impose deadlines where none exist on a project, or trick yourself into enjoying some of the tasks. This will allow you to control something that seems ambiguous.
2: Take A First Step
Should you focus on the most critical tasks of a project first, or should you pick the low hanging, easier fruit? There are good arguments for both. Tackling the big projects, the ones that will have the most impact is often essential – and you may be mandated to get those done first. But sometimes, accomplishing the smaller, less urgent tasks will get you moving and clear your schedule so you can mount a more effective effort and create momentum. Creating a plan can be helpful, but don’t let the plan become its own means of procrastination.
3: Break It Up
Have you ever walked into a messy room and found yourself at a loss of where to start your cleaning? The most common reason for procrastinating is that the task at hand is simply too large and unwieldy. Breaking up the work and treating each piece as a singular task can turn monsters into pets. If you can’t divide the work into tasks, try taking a similar approach by “chunking” the amounts of time.
4: Perfection is the Enemy
“I can’t possibly start this task until I have absolutely everything I need to finish”. This might be true, but on the other hand you might be nit-picking unnecessarily to avoid the work. We’ve likely all done it at some point. Committing to having “Alpha” and “Beta” versions of projects can free you to get started, and will eventually enhance the project and improve your ability to hit your time based deadlines. Working through a few iterations will take a lot of weight off your shoulders — you just need to stay out of the perfection trap.
5: Put Yourself on the 5 Minute Plan
There are plenty of ways to try to fire up the rhetoric in order to jump start yourself. However, mini-motivational speeches don’t offer much of a toehold – especially to an audience of one. So HOW do you “just get started” when you keep failing to start? Here’s a nifty trick that just might work for you. Instead of promising yourself that you’ll start, work in reverse. Promise yourself that you’ll stop. Create a personal guarantee that you’re going to stop your task in 5 minutes. If we can change our perception of the task and the time we’ll be taking, we’ve gotten a taste of seeing something produced.