We’ve all suffered from bouts of procrastination, but at what point does it become a problem?
If you’re looking for ways to stop procrastination, you’ve likely noticed its negative effects on your team. Habitual procrastination can lead to reduced productivity, depleting engagement, and a disillusioned workforce. Ultimately, this causes poor performance and low-quality work.
So, what can we do about it?
Before we get into some ways to stop procrastination at work, let’s take a moment to explore why people procrastinate in the first place.
What Causes Procrastination at Work?
Procrastination is the habit of intentionally postponing work-related activities in favor of more enjoyable and often less important activities like scrolling through social media. It’s an increasingly prevalent issue in the workplace – as many as 88% of people procrastinate for at least one hour at work a day.
Despite what some people believe, procrastination isn’t just laziness. There’s an abundance of reasons why people procrastinate, including:
- Feeling overwhelmed.
- Low self-esteem.
- Fear of failure.
- Lack of clarity.
- Delayed outcomes.
- Abstract goals.
And so much more.
Identifying the root cause of team procrastination can help you tackle it head-on.
However, it isn’t always easy to determine. Reducing procrastination often involves making foundational changes to your team task management strategy. This enables you to tackle procrastination behavior from multiple angles.
8 Ways to Stop Procrastination and Enhance Productivity
So, what can you do to stop procrastination from harming the productivity of your projects? Here are 8 ways to stop procrastination and start doing more every day.
1. Set Concrete Goals
Setting clearly defined goals and aligning them with company objectives is one of the fundamental ways to stop procrastination. It guides focus in a clear direction and connects the work you’re doing to a larger, unified vision.
The lack of specific and measurable goals is a common sales productivity killer. For example, the goal to “create an email campaign to increase sales revenue” is a vague, formless goal that incites procrastination. On the other hand, “draft an email campaign by Friday that targets a specific buyer persona with a specific product to increase sales revenue by 10%” is a more concrete, target-driven goal.
There are lots of different goal-setting strategies out there. One of the most popular is SMART goal setting, which is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Used to guide both business and personal goals, SMART can help make your goals feel more achievable.
2. Split Big Projects Into Small Tasks
Feeling overwhelmed is one of the main reasons that we procrastinate. Big projects can feel daunting, and if we don’t quite know where to start, the task of simply getting started at all feels like a mammoth chore. So, when it comes to big projects, it’s crucial that you break them down into smaller tasks.
For example, say your project is to write a 10,000-word report. This can feel incredibly overwhelming to the point of procrastination. But, if we split it into manageable, bite-sized steps, it feels much easier. The steps might look something like this:
- Collect resources
- Create an outline
- Write content for subheading 1
- Write content for subheading 2
- And so on…
By breaking your project into smaller chunks, you can focus on working towards several simplistic, targeted achievements one at a time. Even if you can’t see every single step in the process, identifying and working through the first few steps will illuminate the rest of the path.
3. Prioritize Tasks In Order of Importance
Whether it’s down to last-minute scope alterations, deadline changes, or new projects, shifting demands can result in overwhelm and confusion. And, as we discussed above, overwhelm is one of the leading causes of procrastination. So what can we do to combat it?
By clarifying task priorities in the face of changes, managers can ensure that employees always know which tasks they should be working on. This is a good way to stop procrastination as it drives our attention toward valuable, high-impact tasks rather than unimportant, low-value tasks.
Fundamentally, the more valuable we feel our work is, the more driven we are to complete it, using a work schedule maker for this is the perfect way to prioritize said tasks.
4. Avoid Multitasking
“Must be able to multitask” is one of the most common requirements you’ll see written on job adverts. So, naturally, “multitasking” is a skill listed in most of our CVs — but is it a skill we should be giving so much attention to?
The answer is no. Studies show that multitasking can hinder productivity, increase stress, impair cognitive ability, and reduce IQ. One of the most recent studies on the subject reported that multitasking was associated with impaired memory and attention regulation (such as increased mind-wandering and distractibility).
It’s also worth noting that assigning too much work often goes hand-in-hand with unmanageable multitasking. This can lead to burnout, something that 76% of employees admit to experiencing at least sometimes. Burnout can present itself as procrastination and can cause serious damage to your employee’s mental health, job satisfaction, and productivity.
It’s not usually possible to completely eliminate multitasking. However, managers should try to reduce the volume of multitasking projects they assign.
5. Assign Tasks According to Interests and Strengths
An engaged and motivated team is one in which every member is working in alignment with their strengths and interests. For example, employees with a knack for collecting research and resources should be assigned those tasks. Your most enthusiastic presenter should be in charge of putting together your presentations.
It isn’t always obvious if procrastination stems from a lack of interest. Managers in charge of delegating tasks should make a concentrated effort to get to know their team members on a personal level. By identifying individual strengths, weaknesses, and interests, you can allocate accordingly to increase productivity and engagement.
6. Recognize and Reward Achievements
Acknowledging and appreciating the work that your employees do is essential to their job satisfaction. Gartner’s research discovered that a well-designed recognition and rewards program can drive an 11.1% increase in average employee performance.
If an employee knows that they’re not going to be recognized for their hard work, they’re simply not going to want to do it! One of the most underrated ways to stop team procrastination is to recognize and reward achievements on individual, team, and department levels. Offer fun incentives and rewards that motivate employees into action.
7. Try a Time-Management Strategy or Technique
We all fall victim to procrastination. Time-management strategies are a reliable productivity hack that can help us make a habit out of utilizing our time more effectively. They’re also useful for helping us focus without distraction.
The 2-minute rule: This popular anti-procrastination method is centered around the belief that if a task takes less than two minutes to complete, it should be completed immediately. The idea is that when all of your little tasks build up, it can quickly lead to overwhelm. Completing them as and when they’re assigned prevents them from stacking up. Once they’re done, you have more brain power to finish your bigger tasks.
Time-blocking: This strategy essentially breaks your day up into minutes or hours, with a specific activity scheduled into each time block. Even small tasks, like checking your email and taking breaks, are scheduled by the minute. Although rigid, this strategy often works well for remote team members.
The Pomodoro technique: If you’re struggling to focus on a specific task, the Pomodoro technique might help. It involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and working on the task until the timer rings. You then take a short break (around three to five minutes), reset the timer, and repeat.
The Eisenhower matrix: The Eisenhower matrix aims to illuminate your top priority tasks. This enables you to make strategic decisions about which tasks you focus on next. It reduces procrastination by establishing the direction, value, and urgency of your work.
8. Use the Right Tools
Don’t be fooled — even small businesses can take advantage of process-optimizing tools and software. In fact, plenty of providers design their software with small businesses in mind.
Process management software can help you to design, optimize, automate, and manage business processes. With more efficient workflows, employees have the agency and clarity to concentrate on their more fulfilling tasks.
Project management tools offer teams a centralized place to plan, schedule, and organize tasks. With 360-degree visibility, you can stay up-to-date with project priorities, changes, and activities.
There’s also a host of essential productivity tools designed to streamline marketing processes. Wishpond, for example, is an all-in-one marketing platform with impressive automation capabilities for increased employee productivity.
You can also have your pick of email automation tools, collaboration tools, time management apps, and more.
Because procrastination can crop up for so many different reasons, there’s rarely a quick-fix solution. Luckily, the above suggestions tackle team procrastination from all angles.
Along with adopting the right tools and time-management strategies, other things that you can do include splitting bigger projects into smaller tasks, avoiding multitasking tasks, setting concrete goals, and being clear about priorities. Playing to your team’s strengths and recognizing their hard work is also fundamental to the creation of a productive and motivated team.
Ultimately, laying the foundations for productivity is the best way to stop procrastination from becoming a prevalent and harmful issue in your workplace.___
Alister Esam is the CEO and Founder of Process Bliss, a process management software that is reinventing how businesses execute day to day tasks. He is an expert in strategic planning, business process management, and business process optimization. With more than 15 years of experience in helping businesses run at peak efficiency, Alister has dedicated his career to make work easier, and more motivating for managers and employees alike.