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Three Ways to Stop Procrastinating at Work

Three Ways to Stop Procrastinating at Work

Stephanie Shkolnik

Do you put off long- or short-term tasks at work? Does the last-minute dash to finish a report cause unwanted stress? Are you avoiding chores in your personal life that may be affecting your career?

Whether it be laundry, grocery shopping, or even taxes, is procrastination getting in the way of what you need to get done?

Relax, you’re only human! Everybody puts off difficult or unwanted chores from time to time. But if left unchecked, procrastination — whether at home or at the office — can hurt your career.

Typically, procrastination leads to rushing around to meet a deadline. This can cause emotional stress as the deadline begins to bump up against all the other things you have to do. And emotional stress can lead to physical symptoms, such as lack of sleep, pain, muscle tension, and in the long run, chronic disease.

To avoid procrastination and the resulting stress, try these three methods:

Prioritize with a schedule.

Every Monday morning, take 20 minutes to write down your career goals for the week. Include all the tasks you have to do at work — everything from cleaning your desk to creating a presentation. On a separate sheet of paper, write down what you have to do for the week in your personal life — everything from laundry and grocery shopping to any grooming appointments.

Use these two lists to compile a schedule with specific times to do your work and personal business. Allow a reasonable amount of time to finish each project, and be realistic with what you have scheduled. Writing things down will enable you to understand exactly what you need to accomplish, and crossing tasks off is rewarding and feels good!

Limit your time per task.

Forcing yourself to finish a task in an allotted period of time provides extra incentive to get it done. To see how this works, start by timing yourself when writing your schedule. You will find that by putting yourself on a time limit you are more likely to stay focused and accomplish your goal. When the time is up, you can stop and see how much you have finished. You may even want to keep going because of the results you are seeing!

Reward yourself.

What do you look forward to and get excited about? Is it getting a massage or pedicure, going out to dinner, enjoying a decadent chocolate? At the end of the day (or week), see how many items you have checked off your list. If you have progressed, give yourself a reward. If you have slacked off, remind yourself of how badly you want the reward. The key is to only treat yourself to the reward when you have accomplished the task on a weekly basis. This will motivate you to keep working hard, to stay organized and progress over time.

Putting these strategies into action will enable you to avoid procrastination and ensure that you are always prepared ahead of time. More importantly, you will notice positive changes in your life as you find yourself with more time to do what you want and no last-minute panicking.

Take the Quiz!
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