Procrastination in the workplace: 8 tips to overcome procrastination at work

Procrastination in the workplace: 8 tips to overcome procrastination at work

Procrastination in the workplace: 8 tips to overcome procrastination at work

In this article, you will find out how to beat procrastination in the workplace. If you are interested in the topic of procrastination from an individual point of view, I suggest you discover two articles that I wrote on this subject, namely: 10 tips to stop procrastination and 11 tips for fight procrastination at work and at home.

But why an article on procrastination at work?

Quite simply because procrastination at work, especially if it is collective, can have extremely negative consequences for companies and employees.

The consequences of procrastination at work

As research shows, two major consequences of procrastination in the workplace are professional stress and presenteeism at work. In this sense, Wan, Downey & Stough (2014) show that procrastination, emotional intelligence and boredom are linked to presenteeism at work.

Ekundayo, et al. (2010) show that procrastination has a negative impact on professional stress (in Beheshtifaret al. 2011).

You will immediately find useful tips to prevent and overcome procrastination in the workplace.

Here are these tips briefly:

1 – If possible, immediately reward productive behavior

2 – value the delayed gratification

3 – Become aware of unproductive behavior

4 – Help your employees to boost self-esteem

5 – Promote the autonomy of your employees

6 – Allocate the necessary resources and assign sufficiently demanding tasks

7 – Perfect the efficiency of your recruitment process

8 – Improve the working conditions of your employees

1 – If possible, reward the productive behaviors immediately

One effective way to overcome procrastination is to implement proactive behaviors within your business.

This is consistent with the research of Wu et al. (2014) who show that a manager can reduce procrastination in the smooth running of a project by offering employees structured compensation in the form of constant or advance payment.

However, most often employees, if they receive bonuses, they benefit at the end of the project and generally once the achievement of the objective set by the line manager.

Operational tip: propose gratifications before and during the conduct of a project

Offer bonuses to your employees before and during the start of a project. On the other hand, do not limit yourself to financial gratifications. Constantly value the progress of your employees.

Adapt to each employee and if possible, offer each one an individual interview to understand what motivates him in this project and in their work in general.

By doing so, you will be able to prevent procrastination and meet deadlines for your most vital projects in your business.

Not only will you create better communication with your work force, but you will take a step forward to retain them.

2 – Value the delayed gratification

If you are unable to quickly reward productive behaviors, you can alternatively highlight the benefits of delayed satisfaction.

In this sense, Mohsin & Ayub (2014) show that delayed gratification reduces procrastination and stress and increases job satisfaction.

In some cases, you can’t get your hands on the wallet, but you can still create a vision of what’s possible for them if they follow your recommendations.

Operational tip: create a positive vision of the final result

In this case, your role as business manager is to create a positive and shared vision of the benefits of the end result.

This requires having or acquiring leadership skills based on example and therefore on consistency between what you communicate, how others perceive what you communicate and the concrete actions you take.

If you are able to create this consistency, your role will be to make it a new habit to follow for all employees engaged in the most strategic projects of your company.

It is precisely the role of your managers who will have to constantly reinforce this vision by relying on the individual motivations of the various employees.

This is how you will be able to create a shared vision focused on the benefits of future and positive achievement for all.

3 – Be aware of unproductive behavior

The implementation of change management requires above all to be aware of the specific problems of your organization.

Among the unproductive behaviors at work highlighted by the scientific literature, one finds the excessive use of Internet for personal reasons during the working time.

In this sense, Kastiya & Sharma (2020) show that among millennial or generation Y employees, those who spend more time on various social media platforms are more inclined to procrastinate in the execution of their tasks due to a high level of anxiety.

Garrett & Danziger (2008) show that employees with higher status are more likely to use the Internet for personal reasons.

In summary, these behaviors are partly responsible for procrastination in business.

If this kind of behavior is punctual, the effects on productivity are less, but if procrastination sets in by becoming a habit then procrastination becomes a real problem to be solved.

In this sense, Prem, Igic, Korunka & Scheel (2019) show an indirect effect in series: procrastination on one working day was significantly linked to more procrastination on the next working day through more incomplete tasks and by further increased by time pressure on the next working day.

It then becomes essential to detect any unproductive behavior from its appearance before it degenerates and negatively impacts the proper functioning of your business.

Operational tip: identify improvising behaviors and find solutions to eliminate them

Start noticing unproductive behavior from organizational decisions or directly from your employees.

Draw a table of 5 columns and in the:

  • First, note this behavior
  • Second, the origin of this behavior
  • Third, the consequences of this behavior if you do not find a solution
  • Fourth, the benefits if you quickly find and implement a solution
  • Fifth, the first action you are going to take within 24 hours to start solving this problem

By following these simple steps, you will be able to realize your difficulties. Professional online coaching is a relevant solution if you want to overcome unproductive behavior within your company, including procrastination at work.

4 – Help your employees to strengthen your self-esteem

Research on procrastination in general and especially on procrastination at work has shown that self-esteem plays an important role in the fight against procrastination.

Khattak & Ilyas (2017) show that unethical practices, weak psychological association, the contractual employment system, lack of interest and desire, low self-esteem and complex jobs are the main causes of procrastination of tasks.

Self-esteem, self-efficacy and motivation to succeed are negatively correlated with procrastination (Boysan & Kiral 2016; Cerino, 2014; Effert & Ferrari, 1989; Ellis & Knaus 1977).

In summary, self-esteem can be strengthened by creating greater consistency between values ​​and behaviors. This means that as a leader, you must be the first to show this consistency, otherwise you will not be able to positively influence the behavior of your employees.

Operational tip: strengthen consistency between the values of your company and the expression of these same values

Only by showing the example will you be able to bring this coherence to life.

Identify the gaps between what your organization displays outside and what is happening inside. Then be honest with yourself without denying the reality of the facts. Now write down a list of 5 actions that will help you bridge this gap quickly. Identify the easiest and most effective to implement. Finally, plan it in your to-do list and execute it!

Then do not stop and take the other actions. Do not expect miracles overnight, but over time, your actions and those of your managers will have a positive influence on your employees.

Promote the consistent behavior of your managers and your teams. Doing this will allow you to create an organizational culture based on consistency between organizational, personal and behavioral values ​​implemented by all. Therefore, it will also have an impact on the esteem of each employee.

5 – Promote the autonomy of your employees

The scientific literature on procrastination in companies has shown that a weak autonomy of collaborators can reinforce procrastination at work. In this sense, Weymann (1988) shows that autonomy is an important factor in reducing procrastination at work.

In addition, low autonomy can also have a negative impact on the stress of your employees. It then becomes essential to find solutions to increase the autonomy of your staff.

Operational tip: promote the autonomy of your employees

It’s time to question the organization of work within your company and the actions implemented by your managers.

What are the organizational decisions and the managerial execution of these decisions that reduce your employees’ room for maneuver?

What are the financial and human consequences of these decisions?

What will happen if you don’t change the situation quickly?

Are you ready to pay the price for inaction or do you want to find a solution to this problem?

What will you do in the next 24 hours to increase the autonomy of your employees to reduce procrastination at work?

Answering these questions honestly will allow you to take the first steps towards a more productive and caring version of your business.

6 – Allocate necessary resources and assign sufficiently demanding tasks

One of the ways to increase the productivity of your employees is to allow them to perform to their best potential. In this sense, Metin, Taris & Peeters (2016) show that having an undemanding job and low resources are associated with boredom and that boredom is associated with procrastination at work and counterproductive behaviors at work. .

It is therefore essential to identify anything that could reduce the motivation of your employees to find ways to prevent and eliminate unproductive behavior.

Operational tip: identify what could motivate your employees

Your role is to make a list of everything that could prevent your employees from reaching their full potential.

Once this list is prepared, organize each factor into three columns representing the factors:

  • Human organizational: choice of leaders and team management
  • Technical organizational: technical, logistical and related to material resources
  • Individuals: factors linked to employees’ skills and personalities

Then, rank these factors in each column in order of importance and choose the one you want to deal with first.

Then, assess the overall consequences of each of these three factors and find at least 3 actions to start managing them.

Finally program the first action and act within 24 hours.

Doing this will allow you to better manage the risks of boredom and more generally of demotivation of your teams.

7 – Improve the efficiency of your recruitment process

In some cases, procrastination may depend on an error in your decisions. These can be mistakes made by leaders, managers or human resources.

In this sense Metin, Peeters & Taris (2018) show that procrastination can depend on a weak correspondence between the characteristics of the collaborator and those of the position he occupies.

Certain characteristics are to be favored even during the recruitment phase, for example O’Neill, Hambley & Chatellie (2014) show that self-management tactics, conscious socialization efforts and bottom-up communication are important to avoid employee disengagement.

In line with this research, it is important to improve your ability to make decisions to place each employee in the place most suited to their skills and personality.

Operational tip: improve your recruitment process

Recruitment errors and poor organizational choices can depend on a lack of clarity as to what is important.

An effective way to prevent mistakes is to recruit with a comprehensive understanding of what is essential for each position while remaining as objective as possible.

This requires avoiding the impact of external or internal pressures that could affect the quality of the recruitment process.

In certain cases, the only way to find a solution will consist in a complete or partial reorganization of the missions of certain collaborators in order to adapt them as much as possible to the needs of your company and the specificities of the personnel.

By trying to base your decisions on strictly rational aspects, you will be able to improve your recruitment process.

8 – Improve the working conditions of your employees

Poor management of work organization can also be a source of procrastination. In this sense, DeArmond, Matthews & Bunk (2013) show that workload can promote procrastination through mechanisms such as fatigue and disengagement.

As we saw in the previous tips, work must harness the potential of your employees to avoid the risks of professional disengagement.

However, the uneven distribution of workload, autonomy and resources can also impact the efficiency of your employees.

It is therefore important to be aware of how working conditions impact the professional life of your teams.

Operational tip: improve the working conditions of your employees

As with tip number 6, identify the actions you can take to improve the quality of work life in terms of the following factors:

  • Human organizational: choice of leaders and team management
  • Technical organizational: technical, logistical and related to material resources
  • Individuals: factors related to the skills and personalities of employees

Then, for each of these categories, identify the most effective and quickest action to take to improve the daily lives of your employees.

Then plan these actions and execute one of them in the next 24 hours.

By continuing in this way, you will be able to improve the working conditions of your teams over time.

Conclusion on how to prevent and overcome procrastination at work

In this article, I have offered you eight tips based on scientific research on the topic of procrastination in the workplace.

I suggest you apply these tips to reduce procrastination, improve productivity and facilitate the well-being of your employees.

If you liked this article, I invite you to share it by email and on social media.

To benefit from the expertise of a time management coach, write to us now using our contact form.


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