Procrastination: Simple steps to banish it at work

It’s easy to distract yourself if your real task is seemingly insurmountable

It’s easier to stop putting things off if you know your demons.

Procrastination is biting businesses without them even realising. New research published today by leading peer-to-peer platform RateSetter finds that Brits spend on average 43 minutes procrastinating at work every day. RateSetter has done the maths and found that these daily workplace avoidance tactics are costing British businesses a staggering £76bn a year.
But rather than shrugging our shoulders and starting the tea round, there are some simple steps we can all take to improve our workplace productivity.

KNOW YOUR DEMONS

Pinpointing precisely why we procrastinate is crucial to kicking the habit. More often than not, it is an emotional reaction to feeling overwhelmed; a tendency for indecision; fear of failure; or even a basic misunderstanding of the task at hand that makes us stray from what needs to be done.
Understanding and confronting what is holding you back is essential to overcoming these hurdles.
If you don’t really know what is being asked of you, seek advice; if you feel overwhelmed, prioritise; if you are fearful of the consequences, imagine there are none.
Learning what is at the heart of your procrastination makes it easier to tackle your inner demons.

BREAK IT DOWN

Devising a new business strategy before lunch and then activating it in the afternoon is hardly the stuff of a manageable “to do” list. Yet, as humans, it is natural to think about the end goal rather than the individual steps needed to achieve it.
Seemingly insurmountable tasks breed destructive thinking, which in turn leads to indecision and avoidance rather than proactivity. But the unfeasible becomes achievable when broken down into small, do-able steps. Consider your time constraints and what can truly be completed within deadline, and split your tasks accordingly. If you still find yourself dawdling, break the task down further until it feels manageable.
Do not set your goals too high – it is much more rewarding to surpass your aims and then build on your achievements than to not quite reach your target in the first place.

DO, DELEGATE OR DITCH

RateSetter’s research finds that one in five people (21 per cent) believe they would have a better work-life balance if they put a stop to their procrastination – understandably, when it steals over three hours each week at work alone. Yet, despite this, avoidance tactics still eat away at our day.
So develop a strategy: if the task fits within your time frame and your skill set, abandon your perfectionism, hatch a plan for how to tackle it, and crack on. If time is tight and other team members would welcome the challenge of responding to the task, then don’t be afraid to delegate.
Always remember the bottom line: if there are no overt benefits from completing the assignment, push back or ditch it altogether. Applying a common-sense filter to all workplace scenarios will help you focus on what must be achieved and reduce opportunities for procrastination.
So when you’re in work today, take a moment to think about how you are spending your time, and try to introduce tactics to make yourself more productive. After all, the more you get done, the earlier you can leave!
Nina Grunfeld is founder of Life Clubs at Work, and worked with RateSetter to publish the “Great British Procrasti-nation” report. To find out more, visit www.maketodaypay.co.uk.

Revolutionise project work

From £13 a month
Basecamp calls itself “everyone’s favourite project management app” – and it isn’t far wrong. With millions of users, it’s transformed how everyone from small businesses and freelancers to teams in multinationals can work. It allows you to divide up and delegate what needs to be done, and keep tabs on how everyone’s getting on. Basecamp also offers tutorials, classes and plenty of third-party add-ons to help make your experience better. You can even get a 60-day free trial.

Related articles