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Tips to stop procrastinating at work

Izzy Turner

Scrolling through your social media feed, prioritizing side tasks, and even new ones (reorganizing that drawer of trinkets, deciding to go through your unread mails, etc.)—does that sound like you before an important deadline? We all do it and find ourselves thinking about how to stop procrastinating.With so many distractions competing for our attention, it can be hard to focus and get to work. We have prepared a guide to help you defeat your inner saboteur and stop procrastinating.

What is procrastination?

Let’s start with the meaning of procrastination. This challenging-to-spell word stands for the act of delaying or postponing doing something that should be done. While some procrastinators simply put off doing things until the last minute, some suffer from missing deadlines.According to scientists, the definition of procrastination is “a "form of self-regulation failure characterized by the irrational delay of tasks despite potentially negative consequences." A survey of more than 2000 professionals revealed that  88% of people procrastinate for at least an hour every day and nearly 9% waste at least half of the workday.

Is the opposite of procrastination productivity?

The opposite of procrastination is not productivity, but we might say that procrastination is one of the factors that decrease your productivity. To increase productivity, you should think proactively and minimize your costs while maximizing the value of your work. But another relationship between procrastination and productivity exists too, and that is called productive procrastination. Remember how we talked about shifting your focus to other tasks? Productive procrastination is exactly that–getting productive in different areas while putting off urgent and important tasks.Ultimately, it’s a harmful relationship with yourself and with your responsibilities. The sooner you think about how to overcome procrastination, the better it is for your mental health and professional life.

7 practical tips to stop procrastinating

Here are some procrastination tips that will help you to get work done. To stop procrastinating, follow these simple steps.

Set achievable goals

When you vaguely think about a large task in your to-do list consciously or unconsciously, it can be overwhelming. Being intimidated by a task is one of the prominent reasons for procrastinating. This is where the importance of setting achievable goals comes in. Breaking down your work into smaller parts and focusing on those smaller tasks one by one can make you feel more motivated. You will also have the chance to see and appreciate your accomplishments bit by bit and have a sense of fulfillment.

Change your working space

A change of scene might give you the push to stop procrastinating and get your work done. When working from home, changing locations can be a little more challenging, but you can still go out to a cafe or try out a co-working space for a change. It is good to note that sitting in the same place might affect your creativity and productivity negatively.

Pace your work with milestones

Having a single deadline for big projects can get you stressed and intimidated. Stressing over large responsibilities is one of the main causes of procrastination. That's why one of the best ways to stop procrastination is to set several pseudo-deadlines for your work to help you pace your work and not cram the whole thing into the last minute. For example, suppose you have to finish a presentation on Friday. In that case, you can set yourself another deadline on Wednesday to complete the presentation's content, and this way, you would have time to polish your presentation and take care of the design.

Track how you spend the time

By keeping track of how you spend your time, you can gain a better understanding of where your time is going and identify when you are inefficient. This way you can prioritize your tasks and allocate your time more effectively. Time tracking can also help you to identify and eliminate distractions, such as checking social media or engaging in activities that don't contribute to your work. Using some time tracking apps, you can get valuable insights into your work habits and identify where you need to intervene to improve your work performance. Overall, time tracking can be a valuable tool for enhancing your work, and help you stop procrastinating.

Minimize distractions

One of the biggest reasons for procrastinating is letting distractions in your life. Do you catch yourself scrolling down on your Instagram feed for no reason or allow your friends to send you funny memes during your working hours? To stop procrastination, you should be more conscious of your actions. If you’re not great at self-control, try getting help from a focus app such as Forest which restricts access to all other apps during your focus session.

Take a break

It's important to take small breaks from work now and then. Overworking your brain can cause burnout and give you an unconscious repulsion from working, which manifests as procrastination and inability to focus. Make sure to integrate regular breaks into your work routine. During these breaks, avoid doing anything related to work. Step away from your work computer and check in with your needs. Get some snacks, a beverage of your choice, or step out for some fresh air and stretching.  

Surround yourself with inspiring people

The famous saying goes "we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with." If you stick around with inspiring and hard-working people, you will be influenced by them. Identify the friends or colleagues who inspire you the most to complete your job and start spending more time with them. If you hang out with a friend who procrastinates, you won't have much help to stop procrastinating.

Identify the root causes of the problem

Sometimes procrastination is not the real issue, but a symptom of some underlying thought pattern. Studies suggest that procrastination can be an emotional response to fear of failure and being judged. Perfectionists procrastinate until the last minute because it gives them a sense of control. If their work indeed ends up being criticized or not producing the ideal outcome, they get to say “Well, I didn’t give it my best, anyway.”To stop procrastinating, you need to understand your motives. Take a step back and ask, “Why do I keep procrastinating?” Are you self-sabotaging? Are you dealing with a fear of “not being good enough” and responding to it by not putting in your best effort? Know that you are not alone. If it’s an overarching problem paralyzing different aspects of your life, do not hesitate to seek help from a professional.We hope this article will be a good starting point to help you with how to stop procrastinating. For more tips, guides, and insights to help you rule your career on your terms, keep following Ruul Blog. Connect with us on LinkedIn and Instagram, never miss an update.


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