Procrastination is a common problem for many people both at work and at home. Putting things off is easy to do but it's a hard habit to kick. Understanding procrastination can help you overcome the habit and get your work done faster and more efficiently.
What is Procrastination?
Procrastination occurs when one postpones a project or assignment. Many people rationalize these postponements, telling themselves they'll get the job done later, tomorrow, next week, etc. To procrastinate, someone has to put off a task, and instead of getting their work done, they fill their time with useless, nonconstructive tasks instead. Many students procrastinate with the rationalization, "I'll just check my Facebook account before writing this report", and employees may go through old emails or spend unnecessary time completing another task instead of starting on new projects.
Many people procrastinate without ever thinking about why they are doing it. Some employees may be bored with their assigned tasks or uninterested in their current position. Some psychologists believe that people procrastinate because they are anxious about the task at hand, or they are feeling stress in general. Other theories on procrastination deal with self-esteem and confidence, depression and other mental health issues. Still other theories delve into perfectionism and some people's avoidance of tasks when they feel they won't measure up. Whether you procrastinate out of boredom or because there is something else going on it is not a productive solution.
What's Wrong with Procrastination?
There is nothing wrong with taking a quick break to check your email or take a short walk during the work day. Procrastination goes beyond those daily breaks, and can result in increased stress, a sense of guilt, and even panic when work is put off too long. Your productivity is hurt and your coworkers may get angry when you don't have your tasks completed on time. When you put off your work until the last minute, the quality of your work suffers. Rushing to get things done last minute because you've postponed the job is never a good idea. Though most people procrastinate from time to time, it is important to understand at what level you are procrastinating. When your procrastination affects your work or your personal life, it is important to figure out why.
There are many strategies to help you stop procrastinating. Managing your time and understanding your procrastination tendencies will allow you to become more efficient and productive both at work and at home. Here are a few tips to help you stop procrastinating:
- Look at the big picture - Figure out how this project is related to your bigger goals.
- Set a goal - Decide when you're going to stop working. Is this a huge project? Only spend an hour right now. Is this a smaller task? Tell yourself you'll get it done in 15 minutes. Give yourself a time, and work towards that goal.
- Reward yourself - Pick out something you enjoy, and allow yourself to have it after you complete something, whether that is a section of a report or the final nail in a house. Whatever your goals are, reward yourself when you reach them.
- Disconnect from Distractions - Silence your cell, turn off your email notifications, logout of Facebook. Do what you have to do to get rid of the distractions that are preventing you from work. You will get more done when there are fewer distractions.
- Make a List - Create a To-Do list and prioritize the tasks. Break big projects down into smaller tasks. Don't take on everything at once. Cross things off as you go along, and you'll be through the list before you know it!
- Mix up the Music - Do you usually work in silence? Play some tunes to get you focused on the task at hand. Or turn them off if you listen to them all day. Change the station or try a new genre. Music can change your mood, use it to help you focus.
- Take a Break - When you start to procrastinate, get up and walk away. Take a break away from your work station. Go for a walk, grab a snack, have a quick chat with your neighbor. Walk away from the project for a minute and let yourself disconnect. Even a quick break can help you recharge and get focused.
- Say it Out Loud - When you recognize that you are procrastinating, say it out loud. Just by admitting it, and hearing the words, you can jumpstart your motivation and get on the right track.
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