11 tips to fight against procrastination at work and at home

11 tips to fight against procrastination at work and at home

In this article you will discover 11 tips to fight against procrastination at work and at home. These principles are the result of experience and research in psychology. Each piece of advice comes with a handy exercise to help you defeat procrastination quickly.

Here is a brief overview of how to fight against procrastination:

  1. Learn from people who do not procrastinate
  2. Identify your procrastination style
  3. Make the difference between negative and positive procrastination
  4. Model your success
  5. Identify the tasks for which you procrastinate more
  6. Identify your procrastination strategy
  7. Become aware of your vision of the past
  8. Make the task less troublesome
  9. Forgive yourself for your procrastination
  10. Stop being a perfectionist
  11. Keep pace

1 – Learn from people who do not procrastinate

You probably know someone around you who can always accomplish what he/she wants.

One of the most effective ways to combat procrastination at work and at home is to imitate the functioning of a successful person.

Identify at least one person at work or in your private life who is particularly effective.

Observe him/her and ask questions about this ability of accomplishment.

Doing this requires to be humble to learn to identify the strategies and behaviors allowing this individual to perform at best.

Customize these strategies by adapting them to your personality, your constraints, your needs and your goals.

In order for this to work properly, start with easy actions to be carried out and progress with more complex actions.

Imitating and customizing these strategies will allow you to obtain good results in a shorter time.

2 – Identify your procrastination style

Identifying your procrastination style is essential in order to overcome procrastination at work and in your private life. Sapadin and Maguire (1996) define six fundamental styles of procrastinators presented as personality profiles:

The perfectionist: he procrastinates for fear of failure and the opinion of others

  1. The dreamer he procrastinates to avoid difficult challenges
  2. The worrier: he procrastinates to avoid risk and being overwhelmed by events. He has little confidence in his ability to make decisions or tolerate discomfort
  3. The defier: he procrastinates by suffering from others’ opinions with a difficulty to assert himself and a lack of confidence
  4. The crisis-maker: he procrastinates because he likes the adrenaline rush of realizing things at the last minute. He has a low threshold for boredom in his life.
  5. The overdoer: he procrastinates because he wants to accomplish too much and because he manages his time inefficiently.

If you are a perfectionist, you are overly influenced by the opinions of others. To overcome procrastination, you need to develop self-confidence and take actions without judging yourself constantly.

If you are a dreamer, you have a too idealized version of reality and yourself. To defeat procrastination, try to evaluate yourself and evaluate situations in a more objective way. Set achievable goals and set a multi-step strategy to succeed.

If you are a worrier, you excessively focus on the potential risks of your actions. To defeat procrastination, identify the benefits of your actions and forecast in advance an action plan to respond effectively to the consequences of likely risks.

If you are a defier, you place too much importance on others and you lack confidence in yourself. To defeat procrastination, build self-confidence and begin to assert yourself.

If you are a crisis generator, you are dependent on the adrenaline rush associated with this risk taking. You have also developed the belief that you are more efficient in doing everything at the last minute. To overcome procrastination you must confront your belief that you are not as effective as you think. Then, you need to replace the adrenaline addiction with a healthier and sustainable motivation in the long run.

If you are overdoer, you have a hard time asserting yourself and saying no to inappropriate queries. It is also possible that you try to be perfect at all costs. To stop procrastinating you need to develop self-confidence, to assert yourself more and to better assess the time needed to complete each task.

3 – Make the difference between negative and positive procrastination

Negative procrastination involves postponing action while knowing that failure to manage it quickly can have negative consequences.

But there is also a positive or active form of procrastination. Chu and Choi (2005) make a distinction between passive and active procrastination.

Active or positive procrastination is a decision to intentionally postpone something while carrying it forward using strong motivation under time pressure.

This means that in some cases, procrastinating may be a good way to accomplish more and achieve the desired results.

For example, you may decide to postpone an activity that makes you happy because you know that by doing so you will gain in satisfaction.

Otherwise, it can be an important activity that requires optimal concentration and you can decide to postpone it to a time of the day when you are feeling great.

In these cases, procrastination becomes an advantage and not a disadvantage.

4 – Model your success

There have been occasions when you have not procrastinated and in which you have easily obtained satisfactory results. You can use these experiences to reduce your tendency to procrastinate. To get there, ask yourself the right questions.

What did you do different at that time?

What do you think of different?

What new actions did you implement?

What emotions did you feel?

What was your internal dialogue at this time?

Answering these and other questions will help you find a more productive mental state to model in order to reduce your procrastination and become more effective.

5 – Identify the tasks for which you procrastinate more

You do not procrastinate all the time and for all tasks. Your procrastination depends in part on the type of task.

This is consistent with the work of Harriott and Ferrari (1996) as well as that of Steel (2007) who consider task aversion as one of the factors responsible for procrastination.

Here is what you can do to fight procrastination.

Draw a table. In the first column, write a list of tasks that you have been reporting for a long time. These can be tasks of your professional life or your private life.

In the second column, write next to each task which has prevented you from acting until now.

In the third column, write what you will do to resolve the situation. You have three possibilities: you take action by doing what you need to do yourself, you delegate the achievement to another person or you eliminate that task.

Doing this will help you reduce procrastination, reduce stress, and gain physical and mental energy.

6 – Identify your procrastination strategy

As with all human behavior, even procrastination takes place with a procedure that varies from one individual to another.

Depending on your personality, context and how you deal with events, you procrastinate according to a unique strategy.

Identifying your procrastination strategy is important to make the necessary changes to the way you think and act.

Take a few moments to think of two situations in which you are used to procrastinating.

Identify the similarities in your thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

Try to understand if there is a common sequence between these thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

Doing this will allow you to recognize your procrastination strategy and think about how to modify it to your advantage.

7 – Become aware of your vision of the past

The thoughts, emotions and actions of your present are not the only ones responsible for your tendency to procrastinate. Your past or rather the meaning you give to your past plays a major role in the choice to postpone your actions.

Procrastination is greatest among people who have a more negative view of the past and who are more at risk and less likely to set goals and meet deadlines.

In order to change your behavior, you must first identify the meaning you have attributed to procrastination in your past.

To do this, think of an event in your professional or personal past that is particularly full of emotions.

Try to relive that moment fully by experiencing the associated emotions. What word would you use to describe this event?

Now write down this word and give another, more positive meaning to this situation.

Choose a word that can motivate you to fight and defeat procrastination.

By continuing to do this for other significant events in your personal and professional history, you will free yourself from the negative influences that certain emotions may have on you.

8 – Make the task less painful

A simple and effective way to combat procrastination at work and at home is to make the task that is source of procrastination more enjoyable.

Gröpel & Steel (2008) show that increasing the interest in the task reduces the tendency to procrastinate.

Identify the most difficult tasks for which you procrastinate forever.

Take those that take time, those that are difficult, those that are useful, and so on.

Draw a table of 5 columns. In the first column write the task.

In the second column, enter a number between 1 and 10 to measure the difficulty of the task. The more difficult the task is, the more you will give a rating close to 10.

In the third column, write at least 3 things you can do to make it easier to do, more enjoyable, more interesting, and so on.

Use your imagination to find easy-to-implement solutions to do what you need to do while reducing the disadvantages of this task.

In the fourth column, note the difficulty level of the task after your creative solutions.

In the fifth column, establish an order for the actions you will take starting from the tasks for which the difficulty level felt has greatly reduced.

Doing this will allow you to perform all the tasks you need to accomplish even if you do not feel like it.

9 – Forgive yourself for your procrastination

How do you react when you procrastinate?

Do you know that this has a very negative impact on your habit of procrastinating and therefore on your professional or family life?

If you tend to blame yourself, criticize yourself, belittle yourself and generally experience unpleasant emotions, this is partly responsible for your habit of procrastinating. Wohl & al. (2010) and Martinčeková and Enright (2018) show that forgiving one’s own procrastination reduces the tendency to procrastinate in the future by facilitating focus on new tasks.

In summary, the way you manage emotions influences the likelihood that you will continue to procrastinate in the future.

Think of a recent event that has been a source of trouble for you because of your procrastination.

Take necessary time to relive this moment fully. Feel the emotions you have experienced.

If it is about unpleasant emotions, forgive your procrastination.

By developing the habit of forgiving yourself and being more caring to yourself, you will be able to reduce your procrastination.

10 – Stop being a perfectionist

Among the factors that influence the habit of postponing your tasks, we find perfectionism. Yu, Chen, & Faxiang (2018) show that perfectionists tend to procrastinate more than those who are not.

If you are a perfectionist you have higher standards than most other individuals.

This is an advantage for doing quality work. But it can also be a disadvantage if you are not able to cope with the frustration of performing less perfect tasks from time to time.

Tackling procrastination is about mastering your perfectionism to prevent it from being productive when you need it most.

Think back to a past event that went wrong because of your difficulty in controlling your perfectionism.

What would you do if you were able to go back in time?

What new decisions would you take?

What other actions would you decide to implement?

Now think about a current situation or one that is going to happen in the near future.

How could you best manage it by learning from your past?

Doing this will help you use your perfectionism to your advantage in order to accomplish more in a shorter time.

11 – Keep pace

Have you noticed that there are people who are always busy and most often very effective? Stephen, Wilcox, Laran & Zubcsek (2014) show that individuals who are very busy and have many tasks to perform, procrastinate less compared to those who are less.

According to these authors, being busy reduces the negative emotions associated with not meeting deadlines and therefore reduces the choice to procrastinate.

Research shows that fighting procrastination requires managing emotions better at work and in private life. In this specific case, having a clear vision of the tasks you need to manage makes it easier to focus on the other tasks to be accomplished by avoiding stagnation on unpleasant emotions.

This means that to defeat procrastination you need to effectively plan your tasks at work and in your private life.

Identify the tasks you regularly postpone and plan them in your calendar.

Do this for the whole week. Leave breaks between different activities.

Once at work, start with the first scheduled task.

If you procrastinate, do not judge yourself and do not be overwhelmed by unpleasant emotions.

Go right to the next task and do your best. At the end of the day, take stock of what you have achieved and what you need to improve.

Doing this will allow you over time to overcome procrastination.

Final conclusion on how to fight against procrastination

In this article, I offered 11 tips to combat procrastination at work and in your private life.

Some tips will be to you more useful than others. By applying them constantly, you will be able to fight effectively against procrastination.

Before you leave, I would like to ask you a question and ask you something.

When, where and how will you apply these tips to overcome procrastination?

If you liked this article, share it with others who, like you, wish to go beyond procrastination.

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This article is also available in other languages

Français Lutter contre la procrastination au travail et à la maison : 11 conseils

Italiano11 consigli per combattere la procrastinazione sul lavoro e a casa

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