How to: Stop procrastinating at work

Unfortunately, procrastination happens to the best of us…

No matter how motivated you are, distracting yourself from what needs to be done with things that definitely don’t need to be done (which is usually anything but your work) can seem like the most appealing option.

We’ve already covered six things productive people do every day, but here are a few of our top tips on how to stop procrastinating at work:


Eliminate distractions

OK, this may seem obvious – but that doesn’t mean you’ll always do it.

Whether you fool yourself with the excuse that having exactly 57 tabs open helps you think, or that your social media must be checked every hour in case of a photo tagging related emergency – procrastination tactics like these are always unnecessary.

Even if your distractions are work-related, they could still be compromising the quality of the task you’re currently working on. Because let’s face it, nobody can tackle that many things at once and actually do them right.

And no, you’re not just ‘an excellent multi-tasker’.

So whether it’s your email inbox or phone screen, avert your eyes (for now).

Social media: How to make your profiles recruiter-safe


Focus on the ‘why’

Sometimes tasks can be impossible to tackle just because you have no idea why you’re doing them.

So before you resort to procrastination, ask yourself why a particular task or project is important – and why it needs to be done by a set deadline.

For example – perhaps you’re in charge of building the code for a website. The code you build will enhance your skills and ultimately improve the company’s client base. And, by putting this together quickly and efficiently, you’ll be gaining a good reputation when it comes to future projects – not to mention promotion opportunities.

You’re also working with a number of other teams to get this work done – and your quick turnaround will help them out too.

Drawing your attention back to positive reasons like these is a great way to give your work some actual meaning. And if you can’t find one good enough? Maybe it’s not that important.

How to prioritise work


Start delegating

Putting things off because you have too much to do? It’s time to reassess your to-do-list.

We’re not saying you should give all your work away (sorry) – but we are saying that outsourcing should be considered in the right circumstances.

Because if lots of little tasks are what’s distracting you from a more important task, it might be that everyone benefits if you delegate. After all, there might be someone in your team who is really interested in this particular topic, or would simply be able to do it better (and faster) than you could.

Look for these opportunities to share your workload, wherever possible, and you might find it much easier to focus on your work.


Stop over-planning

Let’s face it, if overdone – excessive planning can be just as bad as social media, your phone, snacks, and excessive office tea breaks (yes Sandra, 17 is too many).

So if you find yourself thinking you can’t possibly start that project without at least some moodboards, a dozen meetings, and a weekly subscription to ‘projects for dummies’ – it’s probably time to take a step back from the to-do-list.

Instead, create a simple and easy-to-digest plan with small, realistic steps – and actually get started. Give yourself too much at once, and you’re basically asking to be stressed out.

You might not get everything done, but you’ll definitely get the right things done.

How to guarantee productive meetings


Quit the self-doubt

OK, so you’re a perfectionist.

Every task has to be completed a certain way, and you just can’t stand it if there are any minor mistakes or errors. Otherwise, you’ll be convinced it’s not good enough to submit.

And if a particular task or project seems challenging, it can be easier to just avoid it all together. In other words, you’re scared of doing it wrong, so you might as well just not do it.

But instead of running away, try to figure out what it is that’s making it so difficult – then do your best to overcome these roadblocks.

It could just be that more research or a second opinion is exactly what you need to make things clearer.

Six reasons you haven’t met your goals


Get an audience

It’s easy to procrastinate when you’re the only one involved.

Sure, you’re ashamed. But who cares? No one else knows just how long you’ve spent staring into space wondering what to have for dinner tonight.

The good news is, there is a way to stop yourself. Simply find a friend, colleague, or family member – and tell them all about the work you’ve got to do. Then, ask them to check in with you later in the day to see how you’re doing.

That way, you’ll find it much easier to stay focused and less likely to give into procrastination.

After all, the prospect of someone being disappointed in you is enough to spur anyone on – especially if it’s that one friend who practices tough love on a daily basis.  


Give yourself an ultimatum

Not everyone has the natural willpower to get things done.

That’s why introducing rewards and consequences into your work is a great way to push you to actually finish (or start) a task.

Whether it’s allowing yourself a coffee after you finish one section of your to-do-list, or telling yourself that you’re only allowed to go out for dinner once you’ve got a particular project done – small rewards like this can often be the motivation you need to put the effort in.

And if you don’t respond well to rewards? There’s always consequences.

Try taking away your favourite TV show, or worse – cutting off the internet. Never underestimate the power of fear (and/or your love of Netflix).


Looking for more advice? Here are six more ways to beat procrastination


Still searching for your perfect position? View all available jobs now