Kicking the can… putting things on the long finger… dilly-dallying… There are many ways to describe the act of procrastination, and studies show that roughly one in five people globally are text-book procrastinators.
Even if they don’t procrastinate in other areas of their life, most workers will admit that they have experienced hours, days or even weeks where they put off an inevitable task, often something menial, because it seemed so tedious and banal they couldn’t bring themselves to do it straight away, and would rather do something (anything) else instead.
While you might think procrastination in small doses doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things — after all, water cooler moments or grabbing a coffee with a colleague were common activities we all partook in to break up the working day pre-pandemic — the advent of working from home for all or some of the week has upped the procrastination ante. Doing a load of laundry or rearranging the furniture in your living room can sometimes seem more appealing than starting a new project, filing an overdue report, or replying to an email.
There’s also a more worrying trend: lack of connection to the teams we work with could be increasing procrastination. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2022 report, employee engagement is at just 21%, and 17% of workers are actively disengaged.
How to overcome it
If you often find yourself falling victim to procrastination, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure you stay on schedule and don’t deviate from your daily tasks.
First up, every morning make a to-do-list of your daily tasks. If a spreadsheet or color-coded Trello board seems like something that will cause you to procrastinate further, try a simple written to-do list in an old school diary. Trick your brain into doing what it needs to do by breaking everything up into bite-size chunks, and prioritizing the tasks that need to be done first. Also, give yourself micro deadlines throughout the day to keep momentum going.
Secondly, schedule in your breaks. If a quick scroll through Instagram often results in a meme-induced rabbit hole 40 minutes later, allowing for timed breaks throughout your day can help you stay on track, complete tasks by certain times and also keep you cognizant of the boundaries of break times. Leaving your phone in another room, or out of reach can also work wonders.
Finally, much like scheduling in breaks, rewarding yourself for completing tasks on time can help alleviate the anxiety that comes from putting things off and then stressing as a deadline looms closer and closer. A reward can be as simple as giving yourself an hour to go for a walk, meet a friend for coffee or even scroll through your favorite social media app.
However, if you attempt all of the above and find that you still can’t get motivated to do your job to the best of your ability, it could be time to reassess your career path and consider if a fresh start in a new role is really what you need. The VentureBeat Job Board has hundreds of opportunities, like the three jobs we’re profiling below.
Machine Learning Manager, PayPal, San Jose
PayPal’s mission is to democratize financial services. The Machine Learning Manager will work in the Global Analytics and Data Sciences (GADS) team and will be an exceptional data science professional who will drive large-scale impact for the business from week one, and as such must have a well-rounded skill set including an excellent quantitative background, keen business acumen, and strong leadership traits. See more details about this role here.
Sr. Solution Architect, Product Development, Adobe, San Jose
Software Engineer (L4/L5) — Game Lifecycle Engineering, Netflix, Los Gatos
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