Procrastination in the workplace. We’ve all done it at some time or another. You might even be a prolific procrastinator. But if, in your part time job, procrastination happens too often, it can become a problem for both yourself and your workmates.
Procrastination is all about putting off tasks in favour of carrying out another task. The tasks that you choose to do are often more fun or more interesting. You know you can do those without too much trouble so you choose to do them over the bigger task that you really ought to complete.
These other, more pleasurable tasks could be other things you need to get finished on your work to do list. It could be getting up to make of tea as soon as you start the task you really don’t want to do. Or you might be straying onto Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – just in case you’ve missed something important, of course – because scrolling through people’s updates is more interesting than your essential task.
And whilst we’re all guilty of doing this from time to time, on many occasions, it probably goes unnoticed and doesn’t affect performance at work. However, if procrastination is a regular habit of yours, it could make you look unprofessional. It can also land you in hot water with your superiors, make you unpopular with members of your team in your part time job and, in the worst case scenario, your tendency to procrastinate could even lose you your job.
Procrastination can even make you unpopular with yourself! If you are aware of your habit of procrastination in your part time job – and with other tasks, too – you might find that you become annoyed with yourself for not just getting on with the task that needs completing. It can make you feel guilty or down because you know you are letting others down by not pulling your weight. In some cases, procrastination can even make you feel depressed.
So, let’s take a look at procrastination in the workplace and some ways to overcome it.
Why Are You Procrastinating?
The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Why am I procrastinating?” Why is it that you’re leaving your desk so much or leaving your workstation to go and do other tasks instead of the one you really ought to be doing?
Is it your part time job?
If you’re not someone who usually procrastinates at home or in other circumstances, you might want to have a think about the part time job you are doing. Is it rewarding and stimulating but you still put off some aspects of your work? If so, then you can adopt some of the strategies below to try and overcome your tendency to procrastinate.
But, if you are finding your part time job unrewarding and you feel you just don’t have the want or the energy to carry out the tasks required of you, perhaps you should be thinking about a move. This could be looking for a new part time job that will keep you interested and engaged. Or you could stay in your current part time role but perhaps speak with your manager and ask for a move to a different department or to be given more responsibility.
Is it because you need to work on your organisational skills?
For some types of part time job, you might be in a position where you need to be able to multitask and also prioritise some tasks over others. Spinning many plates at once means you need good time management skills and you need to be able to decide which tasks to tackle and when.
Your tendency to procrastinate can kick in when you sit down and realise you just don’t know where to start. Rather than tackling the tasks in hand, you avoid them – and having to think about them – by busying yourself with other things.
Is it because you are a perfectionist?
You are someone who always gives 100% effort to every task you do and you need it to succeed. If you feel you haven’t got the right amount of time or the right atmosphere in which to do this task to the absolute best of your ability, you might be prone to procrastinating. You find yourself doing other, less important tasks until you feel the time is right to complete the project you really ought to be working on instead. Because failure – and not being able to give 100% – is not an option.
Is it because the task is difficult?
Are you prone to procrastination because you find your part time job too difficult? You might be choosing to do more simple tasks because you fear you won’t be able to do the more important task you have been given. If this is the case, if they are approachable, speak with your superiors about getting some training or taking part in a staff development programme. It will be a win win situation: You will be able to carry out your part time role to the best of your ability and increase your productivity. No more procrastination. Your superiors get a more productive and better qualified member of staff.
How To Overcome Your Procrastination
Once you have identified the reasons for why you are procrastinating when doing your part time job, we can now look at some ways to overcome that procrastination. This will make you look more professional in the workplace and your workmates will feel you are pulling your weight – as will your boss!
Procrastination can be frustrating for yourself, too, so once you have found ways to overcome your habit, you will probably feel better about yourself and be happier in your part time job.
Commit to positive self-talk
If you are procrastinating in your part time job because you think you are just never going to be able to learn all the new skills associated with completing that task, tell yourself you can learn them. You have developed so many new skills throughout your whole life so why not these new work-based skills. Other people in your workplace have developed these skills so there is no reason why you can’t, too.
Commit to the task
Rather than putting a task off because it seems too large or overwhelming, commit to it by making it more manageable. Identify when the task needs to be completed by and break each aspect of it down into small steps – small steps that you can tick off each time you complete that part.
Get organised by giving yourself goals and deadlines for the completion of each part of the task – and write these down so that you have a concrete plan to work towards. What equipment – if any – will you need? Which team members will you need to consult with? Does it all need to be done in the workplace or can you do parts by working from home? If meetings need to be arranged, schedule those in, too.
Give yourself a road map for getting this task completed and then stick to it.
Being realistic with your manageable steps is important. Depending on the nature of your part time job, you might be in a situation where you can’t just shut yourself away from everyone and get the job done. Other paperwork might appear on your desk, you might have to attend other meetings, the phone will keep ringing, you could have customers to deal with.
Be sure to factor this in and make those steps so that they are still achievable with everything else you need to deal with in your part time role. You know your job description and you need to get organised so that you don’t neglect other tasks when trying to get this difficult one finished.
Identify your procrastination tool or tools
You are continually putting that difficult or boring task off because you don’t want to deal with it just yet. Instead of getting the job done and getting it out of the way, you start procrastinating. When you are procrastinating, what is the activity that you are actually doing to avoid completing your task? Once you have identified it, in some cases, you might be able to remove it so that you are not tempted or distracted by it.
If you are working at a desktop computer, check how many tabs you have open. Are they all necessary or can you close down those Twitter and Facebook tabs? Do you get email (and other) notifications? If so, and you procrastinate by telling yourself you need to read that email, right now, remove the notifications. You can set time aside to catch up with missed emails at another time during the day.
Likewise with your smartphone. If it pings every time you get an SMS or a message in one of your WhatsApp groups, remove the notifications and keep your phone out of sight so that it isn’t the devil on your shoulder, tempting you to stop what you’re doing and pick up the phone.
Change your setting
Not all part time jobs will give you the opportunity to move from your desk or work station but, if that’s possible, why not try a change of scenery? A change of scenery could prove inspiring or refreshing and remove that tendence to sit and stare at the same walls, procrastinating. Not only could you get your task completed, you might be able to complete it on a whole new level.
Use your workmates
Let’s face it, there are people out there who procrastinate because they put themselves in charge of all situations and take everything on their own shoulders. Perhaps you are one of those people and you meet yourself coming back doing lots of little jobs and putting off the big task that needs to be completed.
This is where you need to remind yourself that, in your part time job, you are part of a team. Whether you are in a supervisory role or a more junior role, it is completely fine (and expected of you, in many cases) to work as a team rather than working alone. Especially in supervisory roles, there is no need to be bogged down with all those smaller jobs that need to be done. This is procrastination. Delegate those smaller tasks to other staff members so that you are not distracted from the task you need to complete.
Use your workmates again
Okay, so this is a task that only you can do and it needs to be finished but you are procrastinating. Perhaps it’s just one of those boring tasks that you just need to get through. In this case, use your workmates to spur you on to get the task finished. If you have given yourself time limits for each part of the task, get a workmate to check in on your every so often to check on your progress.
It could be that the next part of a project can’t begin until you have finished your side of the task. If workmates check in on you and you get the job done, you will know you are not letting workmates down by holding them up on their part of the project.
Work hard, play hard
We’re not saying you need to have a big party every time you finish a task you finish a task that would usually kick in your tendency to procrastinate. If it has been a huge project involving a large team, then yes, you can look forward to that party. For other, smaller tasks, though, promise yourself a reward each time you complete them. Your reward can be something as simple as leaving your desk to go and make a cup of tea or coffee. Or, if it’s allowed in your workplace, a few minutes checking your social media feeds or working on another task that you enjoy much more than the ones causing you to procrastinate.
Take The Rewards, Not The Consequences
There are lots of reasons why we procrastinate in the workplace and the key is not to be too hard on yourself when you do catch yourself out, doing something other than the task you ought to be doing. But, once you do catch yourself out, make sure you are proactive in setting up strategies to prevent procrastination in your part time job. Get the job done and reap the rewards, whether those rewards are financial or a feel good factor because people in the workplace think highly of you. After all, reaping the rewards is far better than having to deal with the consequences if you do let your procrastination habit get the better of you.