Are you often rushing to meet deadlines at the very last minute, regretting that you spent too much time on the less important stuff and did not start on the task earlier? If the answer is yes, then you may be experiencing procrastination.
One thing to clarify is that procrastinators are not being lazy, they often avoid doing a task by switching to do something else due to anxiety or fear of getting unwanted outcomes. The logic behind this is that when you are anxious about a task, you tend to avoid that uncomfortable feeling by doing a less stressful task instead. However, the longer you procrastinate, the more anxious you become, thus forming a vicious cycle.
The result of delaying an important task often leads to last-minute stress and even missing the deadline. So, what can we do to fight procrastination and become more productive at work? Here are 5 tips to help yourself:
1. Plan beforehand
A working plan to complete your task is essential if you tend to procrastinate in work. Get yourself a planner or calendar, list down all your due dates and what you plan to do for each day. Having a visual representation of your plan can significantly assist you in staying on track and being organized. Be sure to reward yourself for achieving your weekly goals. A fancy dinner or a small gift for yourself are both excellent choices to reward yourself. In this way, you will be more motivated to stop procrastinating.
2. Breakdown the task
If you are challenged with a short concentration span, why not try to scale your tasks into smaller sections? Many of us procrastinate because the workload seems overwhelming. Breaking down the task into smaller chunks will make it more manageable. You will feel accomplished as you complete each step, making it easier to start on the rest of the work. Alternatively, you can segment your time using some time management tips, such as the tomato clock method to work for 25 minutes and rest for 5 minutes.
3. Reduce distractions
Are you guilty of spending too much time on social media during working hours, even though you only wanted to reply to a message at the very beginning? Try to turn off the digital notification when it’s time to focus. Or, if you need to communicate with your co-workers using SNS, switching to the desktop version would help. In the event that people are a distraction, try the library or a nearby café to work. Try to reduce all the distractions and create a pleasant working environment will reduce the tendency to procrastinate.
4. Face your anxiety or worries
Sometimes we procrastinate because of the uncertainties and fear of not getting an ideal outcome. In fact, most of your fears are not as frightening as you thought, but not completing the task in time can have real consequences. Imagine how you would feel if you had gotten it done early and had your own spare time to relax without guilt. However, if your anxiety level is beyond your ability to control, it is time for you to seek professional help from a psychiatrist.
5. Make the most of your peak times
Are there times of the day when you work better, such as in the mornings or in the afternoons? Identify the time period in which you are most productive, and locate the most challenging tasks at this time. By finishing the hardest part of the task, the rest would be simpler and less stressful for you to tackle during non-peak times, thus reducing your tendency to procrastinate.
6. The five-minutes technique
When you are procrastinating on a task, try to think about what you can do in just five minutes today to make some tiny progress. When you have an answer in mind, time yourself for five minutes and put it into action. Getting started on a task will greatly increase your chances of finishing it as studies have shown that incomplete tasks tend to become ingrained in your memory.