The workforce is full of people with diverse working styles. Some are seemingly obsessed with getting ahead of the game and tackling assignments as soon as possible. Others tend to wait until the last minute.
Whether those of this second group say they simply work well under pressure or acknowledge they tend to put things off, procrastination is an extremely common habit.
Even if procrastinators do complete their work on time, they run the risk of being unable to accommodate unexpected problems, and it can stress out team members, superiors, and subordinates who prefer a more front-loaded or steady approach to work.
So what steps can procrastinators take to get more ahead of the game? Here, we look at a few easy-to-implement recommendations.
Recognize the Problem
Everyone needs to reshuffle tasks from time to time. Priorities shift, and sometimes, complex problems require coordination with others. But if workers continually put off unpleasant tasks and leave important items unaddressed, that means the procrastination has become a problem.
There are a number of reasons people procrastinate, including wanting to avoid unpleasant tasks, disorganization, fear of failure, and even fear of success.
Start Tackling the Hard Stuff First
This is often a sound strategy regardless of whether procrastination is a problem, but particularly if you find yourself avoiding unpleasant or difficult work, forcing yourself to address those items first can be crucial in addressing chronic procrastination.
Many procrastinators experience a great deal of stress and anxiety thinking about those hard tasks they’re putting off. Addressing them right off the bat gets them out of the way and makes the rest of the workday relatively easy and enjoyable.
Addressing the difficult items first can also help them manage time more effectively by providing a better understanding of how much time those tough tasks will actually take in total.
Create To-Do Lists and Schedules
Creating schedules and to-do lists is a great way to eliminate the organizational element of procrastination. It requires commitment and dedication, but it’s a habit anyone can easily adopt.
Schedules and to-do lists are only effective if there’s some accountability associated with them. This can certainly be personal accountability, such as committing to not leave the office or log off until the day’s tasks have been completed. But if that doesn’t work, external accountability can be incorporated by sharing the schedule with a superior or, less formally, asking a friend at work to check in on your progress.
Some might equate procrastination with laziness, but anyone who’s seen a procrastinator pulling all-nighters to complete a big project knows it’s not the same thing. Procrastinators tend to delay the difficult and unpleasant tasks, but they generally still do them.
The key to correcting that habit is to accept that it’s a negative behavior and implement structure and accountability to rein it in. And to the procrastinators reading this, don’t put off tackling your bad habits until tomorrow!