Have you ever caught yourself constantly postponing that work task from one day to the next? Have you also noticed that this is the one task that stresses you more than the others? This is called workplace procrastination and is a very common issue affecting office employees’ productivity, which has nothing to do with laziness.
What is workplace procrastination?
The term refers to the act of delaying or postponing tasks, either intentionally or unintentionally. This can manifest in various ways, such as avoiding difficult or unpleasant tasks, engaging in distractions, or failing to prioritize important activities. This can negatively impact productivity, work quality, and overall job satisfaction.
While procrastination has always been a work-related challenge, the term is more prevalent in recent years due to the rise of technology and the subsequent increasing number of digital distractions, such as social media. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shift to remote work have also disrupted work structures, further contributing to procrastination behaviors.
8 examples of workplace procrastination
You may be prone to procrastinating if you often do some of the following:
- Postponing the start of the work until last-minute before the deadline;
- Constantly checking emails or scrolling on social media instead of completing the assigned task;
- Spending too much time on unnecessary or excessive planning, research, or preparation instead of taking action.
- Prioritizing easier and simpler tasks over the more critical ones;
- Taking long breaks and avoiding taking action on the task;
- Ignoring or delaying important communication, such as emails, phone calls, or messages from colleagues or superiors.
- Waiting for the “perfect” moment or environment to start the work;
- Overthinking, self-doubting, or exceeding the line of perfectionism for your task.
What causes workplace procrastination?
Procrastination can stem from practical reasons, such as a loud work environment or physical sickness, but it can also be the result of more complex causes, such as:
- Lack of motivation: The main reason why you may postpone or delay the task is that you don’t feel motivated or interested in it.
- Overwhelming workload: Procrastination is a typical way of coping when you feel overwhelmed by the workload.
- Mental exhaustion, for example when you are tired and burned out after working too much for too long.
- Perfectionism: The fear of not being able to complete a task perfectly can lead to procrastination.
- Fear of failure: Fear of failure can lead to procrastination as individuals delay completing a task due to the fear of not being able to do it correctly.
- Distractions: Constant interruptions and distractions, such as social media notifications, can make it difficult to focus and complete a task.
- Lack of support and guidance at work: Procrastination can be the easy solution when there is no designated person that you can contact if they encounter issues.
Consequences of workplace procrastination
The immediate result of workplace procrastination is decreased productivity. Delaying a task at work can lead to missed deadlines, which can affect an individual’s performance and the overall team’s success.
People who tend to procrastinate are more prone to stress. Constantly postponing a task can add significantly to your overall anxiety as you may find yourself worrying about missed deadlines and incomplete work.
In addition, employees who are prone to chronic procrastination can face a damaged reputation in their professional environment, which can lead to missed opportunities, such as promotions, raises, or even job loss.
For employers, employee procrastination can mean lower employee retention, which is never good news for companies that wish to flourish and maintain value through time.
How can I handle workplace procrastination?
Procrastination is not a character flaw; it is a habit and far more common than you may think. By understanding the reasons behind it, you can better overcome it. Consider the following:
- Set goals and prioritize tasks: This can help you obtain a clearer structure for your workload and stay focused and motivated.
- Break down tasks and take breaks: Taking short breaks can help you refresh your mind and prevent burnout. A well-established procrastination-breaking activity is the Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management technique that breaks work into 25-minute-long intervals, separated by short breaks. This has been proven for decades as an efficient technique that can help increase productivity and make tasks less overwhelming.
- Set intermediate milestones and deadlines for yourself: Setting small, intermediate deadlines for yourself and rewarding yourself when you achieve these smaller milestones can help you feel more motivated.
- Eliminate distractions: Turning off notifications on your personal phone or even locking it in a drawer for a while can help you stay focused on your work.
- Use positive self-talk: Using positive self-talk instead of doubting your capabilities can help you overcome the fear of failure and boost their motivation.
- Change your environment: Working from home may have disrupted traditional working patterns and affected productivity. If you realize that your home workspace is not suitable, make sure you invest some time to modify it. Also, if you find your workspace noisy, go somewhere quiet or put on noise-canceling headphones when necessary.
Leave a Reply