Procrastination is unnecessarily postponing work tasks; usually in preference to more enjoyable activities that don’t create any progress toward your goals. Procrastination is a time thief.
We all procrastinate from time to time. Some people tend to do it more than others.
One researcher found that procrastination can occupy up to a quarter of many people’s workday.
Not surprisingly, studies show that high levels of procrastination are associated with lower salaries, shorter durations of employment, and a greater likelihood of being unemployed or under-employed rather than working full-time.
But there is more to it than that: jobs that require high levels of motivation tend to retain people who procrastinate less and jobs that are repetitive and boring, with fewer rewarding qualities tend to have people in them who procrastinate more.
So it’s possible that boring jobs may increase procrastination.
Indeed, researchers have concluded that one of the main causes of procrastination is how boring, repetitive and unfulfilling a job is.
Even the most interesting jobs have boring aspects; and it seems to be these aspects that cause the most procrastination.
Some researchers argue that the outcome of procrastination may only lead to time pressure and that for certain tasks, in particular easy, boring, or routine tasks, time pressure may simply create a challenge and thus lead to finishing a task faster.
But human beings are complex, and it seems that individuals vary in how they like to manage deadlines.
Not everyone likes to rush tasks at the last minute, and lack of time has been shown to stymy creativity.
Most research into the effects of procrastination finds that it is consistently associated with higher stress, more depression, anxiety, fatigue and reduced satisfaction across life domains, especially regarding work.
Be aware of your procrastination.
Make the first step as easy as possible. Can you start with the easy part? Can you schedule a short 15 -30 minute period of intense focus; preferably with a reward at the end?
Don’t aim for perfection. It is much easier to start with a rough draft than to attempt to produce perfect work. You can always come back and improve your work.
Start your day with what you’ve been putting off. That way you’ll be fresh.
Reward yourself. When you’ve done something difficult or unpleasant, you deserve a reward. Celebrate any success, no matter how small, it doesn’t have to be a big reward, but acknowledge yourself.
Minimise distractions. Do you need to silence your notifications? Can you request those working around you to give you uninterrupted time?
Set realistic goals for yourself.
If you are finding that procrastination frequently stops you from achieving what you want to achieve, contact your EAP on 1800 629 277 in Australia and 0800 327 669 in New Zealand or email email@example.com.
1. Wendelien, V. E. (2003). Procrastination at work and time management training. The Journal of Psychology, 137(5), 421-34.
2. Brenda Nguyen, Piers Steel and Joseph R Ferrari (2013), "Procrastination's Impact in the Workplace and the Workplace's Impact on Procrastination", International Journal of Selection and Assessment, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp. 388-399.
3. Mosquera, P., Soares, M. E., Dordio, P., & Melo, L. A. E. (2022). The Thief of Time and Social Sustainability: Analysis of a Procrastination at Work Model. [O ladrõo do tempo e a sustentabilidade social: Análise de um modelo de procrastinação no trabalho El ladrón del tiempo y la sostenibilidad social: Análisis de un modelo de procrastinación en el trabajo] Revista De Administração De Empresas, 62(5), 1-22. doi:https://doi.org/10.1590/S0034-759020220510
4. Turaga, R. (2022). Understanding and overcoming procrastination. IUP Journal of Soft Skills, 16(3), 51-58.
5. The effect of individual perceptions of deadlines on team performance Waller, Mary J;Conte, Jeffrey M;Gibson, Cristina A;Carpenter, Mason A Academy of Management. The Academy of Management Review; Oct 2001; 26, 4; pg. 586