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5 Tips to Stop Procrastinating at Work

Posted by Elizabeth McLeod On Nov 17, 2014 10:00:00 AM

5 Tips to Stop Procrastinating at Work (1)

We all do it.  We troll Reddit , color code our planner, and we online shop for new post-it notes,  all before completing a single aggravating task.  Procrastination is natural, but often times, it can hinder your work performance.  Learning how to control your distractions and buckle down on those tough assignments is an important step in career growth….but it’s tougher than it sounds.

“This is the perplexing thing about procrastination: although it seems to involve avoiding unpleasant tasks, indulging in it generally doesn’t make people happy.”  Says James Surowiecki 

Below are five tips to help you avoid procrastinating at work.

Make a deal with yourself

“When I finish ___ I can ___.” Creating a self-reward system can help you knock out those boring tasks because it gives you something to look forward to.

Dusin Wax reports “Researchers placed monkeys in a cage, with a button that, when pressed, dispensed a piece of food.  The monkey pushed it again, and again, and again.  Then the researchers added a twist: every third time the monkey pushed the button, he’d get an electric shock.” The monkey, despite the shock, would continue to press the button for the food.

The conclusion? We will take the pain, as long as there is a gain in sight.  Find something that you want, and set it as a reward upon your completion of your unpleasant task. 

Utilize technology

Although technology is often one of the biggest culprits of time-wasting, it can be used to your advantage.  There are several apps that can help you put an end to your procrastinating ways.  For example, the app “Self Control” (or Windows version Cold Turkey) allows you create a list of websites (Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed, etc) and block them from your computer for a set amount of time.  When you mindlessly try to view them, you will receive an error message until the time has passed.

Learning how to focus without the help of these apps is important, but a little help can lead to a great first step.

Be public, make yourself accountable

Telling people about your deadlines and your plans to meet them will help hold you more accountable.  With visibility, you will more likely accomplish your task.  Sharing a goal with your boss, a friend, or your spouse may give you the encouragement you need to finish what you’ve started in a timely manner.

Take care of yourself

Taking care of oneself is an important step on the path to productivity.  Drinking water regularly will help to keep your brain fueled, oxygenated, and energized. Lack of water to the brain can cause numerous symptoms including problems with focus, memory, and brain fatigue.   Try to keep a water bottle nearby, and add lemon or other fruit to make it more enticing. 

Getting your body moving and blood flowing is not only a great way to cut down on stress, but it can also increase productivity.  This doesn’t need to involve marathons of heavy lifting.  Try these 5-minute stretches when you are feeling particularly distractible. 

Schedule.  Schedule.  Schedule. 

Creating a schedule can relieve a lot of tension.  And believe it or not, your “me time” will be more enjoyable when it is earned, and you know you have specific time set aside to finish your work. 

No one can work without a break.  Even if this is scheduling in 15 minutes to get a coffee, or call a friend, it is important to take a little bit of time for yourself.  Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, recaps this in his article The Importance of Scheduling Nothing.” Weiner confesses, “At first, these buffers felt like indulgences.  I could have been using the time to catch up on meetings I had pushed out or said "no" to.  But over time I realized not only were these breaks important, they were absolutely necessary in order for me to do my job.”

Knowing you have a scheduled time for each task, and a scheduled break, can lead to increased productivity during non-break time. 

Take these tips, stop procrastinating, and get it done.  

TAGS: Workplace

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