Procrastination is one of the biggest killers of workplace productivity and we’re all guilty of it from time-to-time. Perhaps you have a lot going on at home, you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps, you’re struggling with a particular project, you’re finding it difficult to manage your workload or it’s just one of those days.
If you find yourself offering to do the tea round far too often, wondering around the office aimlessly and helping other people with their tasks rather than yours, here are some great tips to help get yourself back on track.
Divert your attention
Grace Marshall, the author of ‘How to be Really Productive’ says that rather than trying to fight it, we must recognise when we need rest time and fill these slumps with easy tasks. She commented:
“We all have peaks – times when our attention is sharp – and troughs, or what I like to call zombie mode. Learn when your slumps are during the day and give yourself permission to stay productive with zombie tasks rather than getting frustrated and trying to do harder work.”
Break projects down into small tasks
If you find yourself procrastinating because you have a big project to do and don’t know where to start, try breaking it down into small, manageable chunks. Not only does this feel much less daunting, it’s also far more rewarding when you can tick small accomplishments off your to-do list.
Many psychologists say that in order to stay motivated, our brains need a flow of rewards. If you find your focus flagging and your motivation dropping, focus on achieving even the smallest of tasks. This could be filling in an expense form, replying to an email or filling up the printer paper. Believe it or not, these tiny steps are the key to getting unstuck on something that is going sideways.
Picture yourself succeeding
When you find yourself in a slump, it really can help to visualise the end result. Psychologist Dr Gary Wood says:
“I often tell my clients to think what the pay off will be. So keep a notebook with your reasons, add to them and review them. Visualise the end result often and imagine what it will be like to achieve it. Try to make it vivid and conjure up the thoughts, feelings and emotions of having succeeded.”
When you’re trying to get through your workload, taking regular breaks may feel incredibly counterproductive but it’s actually one of the best ways to stay motivated. Chief Executive of Sevenshift, Caroline Webb says that our brains are like race cars and they need pitstops in order to perform at their best.
“Decision quality tends to fall the longer it is since people have taken a break. Also, stepping away before returning to a task has been shown to improve the quality of problem-solving and insight. It’s like a mini version of sleeping on it. Breaks are a good and necessary part of doing good, productive work.”