by Valerie Cecil
We all have tasks at work that we just don’t want to do, and even the best of us succumb to procrastination from time to time. However, procrastinating doesn’t actually make us feel better — in fact, it usually increases our stress levels and makes us feel more tense. Follow these tips for avoiding work procrastination and start getting things done.
1. Examine what you do to procrastinate.
Everyone has different things they turn to when they’re wanting to avoid work. Some people waste time on social networks, while others head to the break-room to make coffee or have a yogurt. Some email friends, while others pull out the crossword. Some people even trick themselves into thinking they’re not procrastinating by diligently performing unimportant tasks related to their job, such as organizing their desk drawer or alphabetizing the books in the break-room.
If you’re doing this type of activity because you don’t want to do something more important, it’s still procrastinating. Once you recognize the specific ways you procrastinate, you’ll be better able to stop yourself when you mindlessly turn to those activities.
2. Tackle the most dreaded tasks first.
Make a list first thing in the morning of what you have to do that day, and then figure out what’s most important and what you’re dreading most. Often, these tasks will be the same. Then force yourself to immediately tackle the tasks you’re dreading most. By getting them out of the way first, you don’t have time to dwell on how much you’re dreading them, and the rest of the day will be cleared for less painful tasks.
3. Find ways to reward yourself.
Sometimes we all need an extra boost to encourage us to do the things we hate. If you need to make five sales calls, for instance, tell yourself that you can eat your apple or go on Facebook for five minutes — whatever you’d rather be doing than the sales calls — only after you’ve made all your calls. Having the reward waiting will make it easier to get the hated task done.
4. Make a plan.
Sometimes procrastination comes from not knowing the next step to take, or feeling like what’s ahead is too overwhelming. Break down a project into small, manageable tasks, and then write those tasks out. For instance, rather than writing on your to-do list, “Work on XX project,” you might write, “Ask John about who to contact for XX project,” “Call contact, ask [specific questions]” and “Set up meeting with boss to discuss options.” If you’re not sure what your next steps should be, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
5. Organize your environment to avoid procrastination.
If you’re really having a tough time staying on task, you can download software that will block all non-work-related websites for a period of time you specify. You can also choose to work in a different spot for the day — such as in view of your boss or nosy coworkers.
6. Let yourself be imperfect.
Sometimes people procrastinate on important tasks because they’re worried they won’t do them well enough. Perhaps they tell themselves they’ll wait until tomorrow, when they’ll be better rested, to start, or they’ll wait to send it out until they’ve gone over it several more times. Instead, remind yourself that no one is perfect and that you won’t be any more perfect tomorrow than you are today. Sometimes, what’s important is just getting things done, even if they’re not done to the absolute best of your ability each and every time.
Valerie Cecil writes about all things “career” for Outbounding.com. In her spare time, she works toward workplace safety certifications through www.ETrainToday.com.