Tips to Help You Stop Procrastinating at Work

We’ve all been there. You’ve got a ton of work to do but you can’t bring yourself to complete it. Whether it’s a task you’ve been meaning to get around to for a while or a project with an urgent deadline, sometimes we just don’t feel like doing it. Both business owners and employees experience procrastination from time to time, but there are things you can do to help stop it.

In this blog, we’ll help you understand what procrastination is and give you some easily implementable tips that can keep you and your teams productive at work. 

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What is procrastination?

In a nutshell, procrastination is when we delay or avoid doing tasks until the last minute, or even past their deadline. Whether you’re scrolling through social media, watching TV or online shopping, if it’s taking you away from completing an important task, it’s procrastination. 

People procrastinate for many reasons. Some don’t know how to begin working on a specific project; others are simply working on more urgent jobs first. There are even people who procrastinate on purpose because they thrive under pressure and need a tight deadline to work at their best. One of the top reasons for procrastination is that we ‘just don’t feel like’ completing certain tasks and would rather work on jobs we enjoy more first. 

Procrastination isn’t good for the workplace and rarely produces good results. When we procrastinate, we leave things until the last minute, leading to panic and sub-standard work. It’s therefore important to get a handle on it before it leads to reduced productivity and poor results.

Tips to stop procrastinating at work

Whether you’re a procrastinator yourself, or you’re looking for ways to stop your employees from procrastinating, there are several things you can do. Here are a few of our favourite tips to stop procrastination at work. 

Break work down

Breaking tasks down into smaller, bitesize chunks is one of the best ways to improve productivity and ensure people feel motivated to work on their projects. There are several ways to do this, from encouraging staff to break up their tasks themselves to using the “two-minute method” or the “Pomodoro Technique”:

  • The two-minute method works by only working on a task for two minutes at a time before stopping for a break. However, by the end of the two minutes, many people are so engaged in the work they are completing that they actually continue working on it for longer.
  • The Pomodoro Technique is similar but involves working on a task for 25 minutes, before breaking for five. It gets its name from the kitchen timers shaped like tomatoes (“pomodoro” is Italian for “tomato”), and was pioneered in the 1980s by business consultant and author Francesco Cirillo.  

Enhance your environment

Your work environment can have a big impact on procrastination and productivity levels, so it’s important that you create an environment that enables focus. If your employees are office-based, this is slightly easier as you can have full control over the workspace. For home-workers it’s slightly more tricky, but ensuring you regularly check in on your employees to make sure they have everything they need is a good place to start. 

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Comfortable furniture, natural light and minimal distractions and noise are all essentials for creating a positive work environment that enhances productivity. Surprisingly, temperature is important too; a CareerBuilder study found that 53% of surveyed employees were less productive when their work environment was too cold. So crank that heating up (or better still, put an extra layer on).

Visualisation

You might already know that visualisation is a great way to decrease stress and limit distractions, but did you also know it can help to maintain focus and enhance productivity? Professional athletes have long used visualisation to ensure they stay focused and concentrated on their end goal. 

Encouraging your employees to visualise their goals can help them to establish the steps they need to take to reach it which, combined with breaking down tasks into manageable steps, can help to effectively avoid procrastination.

Learn to recognise personal habits

Humans are creatures of habit, but understanding our own habits and how our minds work isn’t always one of our strong suits. However, taking notice of when we are feeling most productive in a working day can help to ensure procrastination doesn’t get in the way. Some people feel more motivated early in the morning, while others feel more energetic and productive in the afternoon – are you an owl or a lark?

Understanding when you are most productive can help you to create a priority list each working day. If there is a task you really don’t want to work on, consider putting it in your diary at the time of day when you are most likely to feel productive. For your staff, you could evaluate when they are producing their best work and encourage them to take notice of this for future tasks. 

Listen to music

Minimising procrastination goes hand in hand with enhancing productivity, and listening to music has been proven to improve productivity levels. A study by Mindlab International found that nine out of ten people will perform better when listening to music while working. 

Music to stop procrastinating can come in all genres; it’s simply a case of finding out what works best for you. You might find classical music helps you to focus on difficult tasks that take time, while electronic dance music might help you complete other tasks quicker. Some people find lyrics distracting, so make a playlist of instrumental-only music if you find yourself rooting for jilted lovers rather than doing your pie charts. If headphones in the workplace aren’t your thing, perhaps you could rotate playlists on an office speaker, including genres for everyone. 

Listen to a podcast

Podcasts have seriously grown in popularity over the last few years, with over 15 million podcast listeners in the UK in 2020. The great thing about podcasts is that you can find one for just about anything, even podcasts that have been specifically recorded to help with procrastination. You could simply search for ‘podcast to stop procrastinating’ in your podcast provider or search engine and you’ll be given several to choose from. 

Apps that help you stop procrastinating

While our top tips to help you stop procrastinating should be enough to amp up productivity levels in your organisation, there are also apps you can download to help you and your team keep productivity high. Here are a few of our favourites:

  • Forest – Improves focus by motivating you to stop using your phone and remove the distraction.
  • Focus@Will – Improves concentration with scientifically designed music that can increase focus time by 200–400%.
  • Focus To-Do – Task management combining to-do lists and the Pomodoro Technique.
  • RescueTime – Improves productivity by tracking and analysing your time spent on tasks, with the ability to also block out distractions.

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Maintain your focus

So, whether you’re an entrepreneur aiming to improve productivity across your business, or you’d like to reduce the time you spend procrastinating, you should now have plenty of tips to help you get started. If you’re keen to learn more about productivity, take a look at our list of the best appointment scheduling apps to keep you productive.

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Your complete business toolkit

Rovva puts everything you need for your business in one place. From an accountancy helpline to a drop-in business lounge - we've got everything covered.