Discover ways to avoid procrastination at work
Understand the causes and consequences of leaving everything for later. See also how stopping procrastinating can help your life and career
Not everyone is familiar with the term procrastination, but you'll find that it's a different word for something that everyone ends up doing. Do you want to see it alone? Do you know when the alarm goes off and you — without thinking twice — activate the “snooze” option, wanting to sleep “just a little longer”?
Well, when we delay (even for a few minutes) getting out of bed, we are procrastinating. This curious word simply means leaving for later what is not urgent at the moment.
It's true that almost everyone has a little of this habit. However, when the act of procrastinating becomes a constant habit, it can generate significant problems, affecting both personal relationships and career.
What is procrastination?
Paying bills late, postponing gift shopping until the day before a birthday and submitting your income tax return on the last day are some examples of common procrastination in our daily lives that we often don't realize the consequences of. .
It is important to differentiate procrastination from laziness. Failing to tidy your room at that moment may seem harmless. But, unfortunately, frequent procrastination can have a serious impact on several areas of our lives, including our well-being, mental and financial health, and when we bring this reality into our professional lives, it can have serious consequences for our career.
But how to identify the need to stop procrastinating?
The habit of procrastinating becomes a problem when you fail to complete important tasks when they need to be done. Prioritizing responsibilities is essential to avoid unwanted consequences.
Signs of procrastination at work
Here are some signs of when it’s time to stop procrastinating:
You only have urgent demands
Spending your days just putting out fires and solving urgent things is a very clear sign. Your habit of procrastinating is probably causing the first negative effects.
You have a reputation for not meeting deadlines
Another warning is that you get the reputation of someone who doesn't meet deadlines. Be careful because this undermines your credibility and possibly harms your team, your boss or your colleagues, who will probably have to wait for a decision or attitude from you to carry out their tasks.
You never have time
The procrastinator's favorite excuse is “I didn't have time”. Pay attention to the number of times you justify a problem with this statement. For example, if you say you didn't have time to send an email, try to estimate how long it would take you to do so.
What are the causes of procrastination?
There can be many causes for procrastination, so it is important to evaluate carefully to find the solution that best applies to you. Let's help identify some causes:
Excess of information and distractions
Modern life and easy access to thousands of information on our smartphones and social networks can bring a lot of interesting content, but we are not always at the best time for them.
When we have several tasks to perform, all this information in the palm of our hands can be distractions that are taking us further away from our goal of completing a job.
Insecurity or feeling of unpreparedness
It's very common for us to postpone topics that bring anxiety or insecurity because we don't want to deal with them. Excessive procrastination often hides feelings of low self-esteem and lack of confidence in your ability to carry out a given task.
Find out where the problem really is to start solving it. If you feel unprepared to carry out an activity, try to carry out a performance self-assessment to identify which skills you need to improve instead of trying to avoid responsibility.
Lack of organization and time management
One of the main challenges faced by professionals at different hierarchical levels is time management . Overestimating the time they have to complete tasks or underestimating the time certain activities will take to complete can lead to procrastination. To end that story of “not knowing where to start”, it is important to define priorities and organize the “queue” of work.
Believing that you work better under pressure
It may seem like a good excuse to say that you work better under pressure and, therefore, leave everything until the last minute. Who do you want to fool? Generating unnecessary pressure can bring anxiety and harm the quality of your work. Have you ever thought that doing it in advance could help you do even better what you already do?
Lack of motivation or dissatisfaction with work
One of the factors that most contribute to procrastination is thinking that we need to feel inspired to do a certain job.
Just as we are not always motivated to go to the gym, but we go because we want to achieve a goal, the same happens with work.
Motivation sometimes comes from discipline, and waiting for an “inspiring moment” can be a trap that will make you postpone your tasks (and get more and more confused) .
Mental health disorders or issues
Procrastination, in some cases, can be a symptom of a more serious mental health condition, such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
When you are disinterested or so distracted by external stimuli or internal thoughts, it can be difficult to begin a task. It is important to evaluate and, if necessary, seek professional help to have an accurate diagnosis of your mental health and how to treat it.
Immediate vs. long-term rewards
“I work so hard, I deserve a break.” Who has never thought like this? Often, instead of immediate breaks and rewards, it is more worthwhile to complete your obligations first so that you can rest with a clear conscience.
According to the best-selling book “The End of Procrastination”, when you procrastinate something, you waste precious time that you could be investing in something important. And feelings of regret and guilt tend to linger much longer in people. The feeling of duty accomplished will bring you even more well-being, without having to push tasks under the rug.
What are the consequences of procrastinating?
Studies show that approximately 20% of the population are habitual procrastinators. However, changing habits requires an effort to get out of the “inertia” of procrastination.
The tasks we need to complete are not always fun and exciting, but they are necessary. Procrastinating is directly linked to the sense of responsibility.
In other words, when we postpone an important task, it can have a direct impact on our co-workers and the results of the company where we work. Meeting deadlines is part of professional ethics and is important to have a better reputation in the company and grow in your career.
See some negative impacts of procrastinating at work:
- It can generate anxiety and frustration;
- It hinders teamwork;
- It harms your professional image.
And the consequences of procrastination don't just affect the work environment, it can also disrupt personal life and relationships with family and friends. To avoid further inconvenience, let's understand the causes and how to avoid it.
What to do to overcome procrastination?
To stop procrastinating, you need to discover ways to avoid this behavior that is harming you. To help, here are some simple strategies you can start right now.
1. Make a list of the day's tasks
The idea is to set up a structure in which you can mark the tasks of the day and those that are completed. Often, we are not aware of the number of things we must do in 24 hours and this makes it difficult to organize ourselves.
When creating the list, don't be alarmed by the number of items that may appear. Possibly, you have always had this amount of things to solve, but you never realized it.
2. Break it down into small tasks
When making your to-do list, don't just think about big activities, break it down into small steps. Thus, in addition to being easier to carry out, it will bring a feeling of accomplishment and will help and give you more encouragement to carry out the next tasks.
3. Estimate the time each task takes
Calculate roughly how long it should take you to complete each item. With this, you will be able to get an idea of the total time needed to accomplish everything you need. As it becomes a habit, you will see how it will make your time management easier as a whole.
4. Separate what is urgent from what is important
If everything on your to-do list seems urgent and “due yesterday”, it means that your life has already been harmed by this habit of postponing everything.
When organizing yourself, really try to separate what is urgent, what is important and what, in fact, is not the focus at the moment. Organizing tasks in a priority queue , instead of having them all have the same “weight”, will make it easier to execute them one at a time.
5. Evaluate your moment
It's important to understand whether the disorganization with deadlines just came from the habit of leaving everything for later or if you are in the process of changing companies or promotions , for example.
Situations of this type usually generate an increase in load. If this is your case, perhaps it is not a question of disorganization, but of adaptation.
It is even common that in a new job you feel like postponing some tasks for reasons of insecurity rather than procrastination. It's worth observing what's happening to act in the most efficient way against it, ok?
6. Don't get lost in self-criticism (the focus is on being able to stop procrastinating)
After all this evaluation, you may realize that you need to look for new ways to organize yourself, prioritize tasks and adjust your deliveries to the stipulated deadlines.
At first, everything may not come out with the quality you want, but it's important not to get too lost in self-criticism so as not to end up buried under a snowball of incomplete tasks. Observe, organize and change your habit. It can be little by little, but start as soon as possible.