Steps to Overcoming Procrastination at Work and School

The average employee admits to spending two hours a day doing non-work related tasks, according to the New York Times article “Overwhelmed, And Prone to Procrastinate.” What are they doing? They’re watching YouTube, checking Facebook, Tweeting, Pinning, Stumbling, and doing anything else they can find that will keep them away from finishing that dreaded email, phone call, or next phase of their project.

For as popular and time consuming as procrastination is, one would believe it would feel more enjoyable. However, procrastination causes guilt and fear, either that they will do too well and not be able to repeat it or that their finished work won’t be up to par, according to the article. New York productivity consultant, Julie Morgenstern, says people procrastinate because they are overwhelmed. To overcome procrastination, become more productive, and less overwhelmed, she suggests using time management tools, such as breaking big goals into smaller goals.

The following are steps for professionals and students to take who want to break their habit of procrastinating.

  • Identify one thing you’re procrastinating and set a deadline for completing it. If a deadline isn’t already set for you, make yourself a deadline so you can see an end to the task.
  • Break your big goal into smaller pieces. The article suggests not working for more than 30 minutes to 3 hours on a single project. Breaking a large goal into manageable steps increases your chances of completing it.
  • Set deadlines for each step. Now that you have your deadline set for the large goal, use your calendar to schedule deadlines for all of your smaller goals.
  • Reward yourself for small steps completed. You worked hard. Reward yourself with something small for each step completed.
  • Take breaks. If you’re distracted by checking email, Facebook, etc., it’s best to give in. Psychologist Larry Rosen encourages people to take what he calls a “tech break,” but only in predefined intervals. Giving yourself tech breaks allows you to answer what ever is on your mind so you can free space to focus on the important task at hand.

How will procrastinating less change the way you feel about the quality of your work? How do you see taking small steps change effecting more than your work? How can you adapt these steps overcoming procrastination in your every day life?

“Driven to Worry, and to Procrastinate,” by Phyllis Korkki. 25 February 2012. The New York Times. Accessed on 2 March 2012.

“How a “tech break” can help students refocus,” by Jill Barshay. 8 November 2011. Hechinger Report. Accessed on 2 March 2012.

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