Selecteer een pagina

Overcoming Procrastination at Work: Strategies to Boost Productivity and Stay Focused

Understanding the Impact of Procrastination on Work Performance

‘Everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator (Ferrari, 2010)’  We all delay, wait or postpone the start or completion of particular things, yet some of us delay across contexts and regularly in multiple domains of our life. While it’s often brushed off as laziness or lack of willpower, procrastination runs deeper than mere avoidance. It’s a complex phenomenon with various underlying causes that affect individuals differently. In this newsletter, we’ll delve into the root causes of procrastination, shedding light on why we procrastinate and how to overcome it.

The prevalence of procrastination has been on the rise in the last few decades, with currently 20% of the adult population and over 70% of the student population reporting procrastination in multiple life domains. Together with the associated negative outcomes of procrastination in life and at work,   procrastination has become an emerging subject in psychological and behavioural economics.

The main construct of procrastination is defined as “voluntary delay of an important, necessary, and intended action despite knowing there will be negative consequences for this delay”. Procrastination is a behavioural pattern associated with psychological and physical suffering. Research associates procrastination with negative outcomes such as receiving a lower salary, experiencing shorter spells of employment, having a tendency to be underemployed, and reporting higher levels of boredom.

The reasons to procrastinate at work vary, and bear in mind, that we sometimes delay things strategically to get the results we want. Doing this is different from procrastinating without any significant reason or motivation. Employees procrastinate for different reasons. We sometimes procrastinate just because we set different priorities, and find the task less interesting – it is just something you have to do, or the task is too complex or too big for you to oversee. Research about procrastination at work and the positive or negative outcomes is scarce. Some researchers relate procrastinating with lower performance at work and interestingly, they associate this to the time we spend on non-work things like social media and reading blogs but also the amount of time we spend on private things during work hours.

Most procrastinators recognize procrastination as negative and harmful and are motivated to reduce it (Svartdal, 2017).

The Root Causes of Procrastination and How to Identify Them

Identifying the root causes of procrastination can be a crucial step in overcoming this habitual pattern. To pinpoint the underlying reasons behind your procrastination it is always good to take time for self-reflection and answer probing questions such as:

  • What tasks do I tend to procrastinate on?
  • When do I procrastinate the most (morning, evening, afternoon)?
  • Are there specific triggers or situations that lead to procrastination?
  • How do I feel when I procrastinate (anxious, bored, overwhelmed)?

This might help to gain some insight into potential root causes. Or you could use the Irrational Procrastination Scale to identify if you are a procrastinator perse and delve into the characteristics of your procrastination habits. This questionnaire is available to download over here.

I also would like to mention that procrastination has sufficient stability to be considered a trait with a firm genetic component. It fluctuates depending on the specific task (e.g. pleasant versus unpleasant) and on the individual’s present condition (e.g. energized versus tired). Using the Big Five Personality traits inventory as a reference to share more about the relationship between personality traits and procrastination we notice the following:

  1. Conscientiousness has been inversely correlated with procrastination in many studies. Individuals who score low on conscientiousness, meaning they are less organized, less dependent and less self-disciplined, tend to be more prone to procrastination.
  2. Neuroticism has also been linked to procrastination. High levels of neuroticism, characterized by emotional instability, anxiety and negative affect, may contribute to heightened procrastination tendencies due to increased levels of stress and avoidance behaviour.
  3. Impulsiveness, a personality trait associated with acting on urges and desires without adequate forethought, has been implicated in procrastination. More impulsive individuals may struggle with delaying gratification and prioritizing long-term goals over immediate desires, leading to procrastination on tasks that require sustained effort.

Research shows that agreeableness and conscientiousness were negatively associated with procrastination, while neuroticism was positively associated with procrastination in the workplace. Individuals with higher levels of energy, mental resilience, enthusiasm, inspiration and concentration tend to procrastinate less and perform better (Metin et al., 2018).

Identifying the root causes of procrastination requires self-awareness, introspection, and a willingness to explore underlying thoughts, emotions, and external factors. By employing strategies such as self-reflection, journaling, exploring thoughts and feelings, identifying external factors, seeking feedback, and experimenting with solutions, you can gain valuable insights and develop effective strategies to overcome procrastination and achieve your goals.

My clients notice that the things blocking their job search disappear when collaborating with me. Don’t hesitate to schedule your introductory call today to find out more.

Effective Techniques to Beat Procrastination and Get Started on Tasks

Overcoming procrastination is a journey, and patience and persistence are key to long-term success. Where to start decreasing procrastination depends on the origin and the ways you procrastinate. There are some effective techniques to get started with:

  1. Break tasks into smaller steps – Large tasks can feel overwhelming and lead to procrastination. Break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. Focus on completing one step at a time, it can make the task seem less daunting and increase your motivation to get started.
  2. Set specific goals and deadlines (for the small steps) – Set clear, specific goals for what you want to accomplish and establish deadlines for each task. Having a concrete plan with deadlines can create a sense of urgency and accountability, reducing the likelihood of procrastination.
  3. Minimize distractions – Identify and minimize distractions in your environment that contribute to procrastination. Turn off notifications, designate specific times for checking email and social media, and create a dedicated workspace free from clutter and interruptions. So yes, no mobile phones and no social media distractions help.
  4. Practice the 10-minute rule – Commit to working on a task for just 10 minutes. Often, getting started is the hardest part, and once you’ve overcome that initial resistance, you may find it easier to continue working. Breaking the inertia with a small, manageable time commitment can help you overcome procrastination.

Cultivating a Productive Work Environment to Minimize Distractions

What also can be a big game changer is creating an environment that stimulates productivity.  Concentration and focus are keywords in this aspect. Minimizing distractions helps to foster concentration and focus. So, if this is what you need to overcome your procrastination tendency it might help to design a designated workspace when working from home. It helps to signal your brain it is time to focus. It also helps to keep the workplace clutter-free. My tendency to collect small things like sticky notes and books on my desk distracts me from work. I incorporated the habit of cleaning up my desk after every task and at the end of the day – for me, it helps to clear my mind and stay focused. After a friend of mine created a designated workspace where she could actually close the door behind her and leave work, she realized how big the impact was on her behaviour and mindset.

Other aspects of optimizing your work environment involve boundaries with others and taking good care of yourself by scheduling and taking breaks to move – to stretch, walk the dog or engage in activities that help you relax and refocus. Establishing boundaries addresses your need for uninterrupted work time, and time needed with family members or colleagues. Open communication about your needs helps to create dedicated time to get some work done and get started with the things that need to be done.

6.        The Power of Mindset: Developing Positive Habits for Increased Focus and Motivation

I already mentioned focus being one of the important things to get things done and minimize procrastination. Next to this, motivation plays a key role in fostering habits that support decreasing your levels of procrastination. It seems like an open door, but focusing on progress instead of perfection helps to create a positive mindset about the things we do. We like to thick boxes to feel productive, mostly a short and doable to-to (or ta-da) list with combined ‘should do’ and ‘want to do’ things on it, helps to stimulate a positive mindset – next to productivity and motivation.

Motivation is a complex and broad concept – I will leave that for another time, but motivation refers to the driving force behind our actions, desires, and behaviours. This is what energizes and directs our behaviour towards achieving specific goals or fulfilling certain needs. Motivation can arise from internal and external factors and play a crucial role in determining our level of effort, persistence, and engagement in tasks and activities.  When we feel that we are progressing and working towards a goal, we feel motivated and simultaneously become willing to take the necessary actions to complete our tasks.

There is always the possibility to schedule a 30-minute introductory call to learn more about the ways I can support you by taking your personal situation into account. Don’t hesitate to check my schedule over here and plan your call today.

The Role of Accountability Partners and Time Management Tools in Combating Procrastination

Accountability partners and time management tools play a significant role in combating procrastination by providing structure, support, and accountability. Time management tools, like calendars, planners or task management apps, help organize and plan your time, organize tasks and priorities. Next to this, deadlines and tracking your progress make a big difference in overcoming habitual procrastination. It creates a sense of urgency and accountability.

Accountability partners offer mutual support and encouragement in working towards goals. It has been said that once you express your thoughts, they become goals and create accountability. Shared goals and commitments help to feel more accountable, it creates a sense of responsibility. Besides this, it is more fun to collaborate to reach goals. Furthermore, doing things together makes the outcome better. Collaboration incorporates providing valuable feedback towards each other, sharing insights, challenges and obstacles that might arise and allows you to celebrate your success and milestones together. Having someone to share achievements with can enhance feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Conclusion: Embrace Proactive Habits to Overcome Procrastination and Achieve Success in Your Workplace

Procrastination is a common challenge many individuals face in the workplace, but it doesn’t have to be a barrier to success. By adopting proactive habits and implementing effective strategies, you can overcome procrastination and achieve your goals confidently and efficiently. Throughout this discussion, we’ve explored various techniques and approaches to combat procrastination, ranging from understanding its root causes to cultivating a positive mindset, leveraging accountability partners, and utilizing time management tools. Each of these strategies offers valuable insights and practical steps to help you overcome procrastination and unlock your full potential.

By recognizing the underlying reasons for procrastination, such as fear of failure, perfectionism, or lack of motivation, you can address these issues head-on and develop strategies to overcome them. Cultivating a positive mindset, practising self-compassion, and focusing on progress rather than perfection can help shift your perspective and empower you to take action towards your goals.

Additionally, leveraging accountability partners and time management tools can provide structure, support, and accountability in your journey to overcome procrastination. Whether it’s finding a trusted colleague or friend to hold you accountable, or utilizing calendars, planners, or task management apps to stay organized and focused, these resources can be invaluable assets in your efforts to combat procrastination and achieve success.

Ultimately, overcoming procrastination requires commitment, perseverance, and a willingness to adopt proactive habits supporting prioritization, productivity and progress. By embracing these proactive habits and implementing the strategies discussed, you can break free from the cycle of procrastination and create a workplace environment that fosters creativity, innovation, and success.

So, take the first step today towards overcoming procrastination and achieving your goals. Embrace proactive habits, cultivate a positive mindset, and leverage the support of others and the tools at your disposal. With determination and dedication, you can overcome procrastination and thrive in your workplace, realizing your full potential and achieving success.

Ask for help when needed

For some, this article can be a warning sign. When you feel you cannot cope with this on your own, don’t hesitate to ask for help.  If you feel I could be the one to support you, please schedule a call below to discuss further. I look forward to meeting you and hearing your story.

error: Content is protected !!