1. Parenting

Stop Procrastinating at Work

Get More Done and Get Noticed

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Procrastinating at work.

Stop procrastinating at work.

Photo Credit: Andersen Ross/Getty

Looking for s way to set yourself apart at work? Make sure you're getting noticed for the right things such as focus, organization and increased productivity.

Don't let procrastination sabotage your career. Use these tips and stop procrastinating at work.

Know What's Important

If you want to get more done, make sure you're focusing on the right things. What appears to be procrastination may actually be a lack of focus or direction. How should you determine what's important?

  • Make a master list - with pen and paper in hand, spend some time simply listing everything you are responsible for and every task that needs to be completed.
  • Prioritize - review the list and ask yourself what's most important. Having difficulty prioritizing? Ask yourself the following questions: "If I only have time for one task today, what item on my to-do list is most critical to my company's goals?" or "I'm leaving for vacation tomorrow. What are the mission-critical tasks that must be completed before I go?" Continue through your list asking yourself these questions, prioritizing as you go.
  • Get input - maybe you're not in total control of your day or priorities. Solicit input from your boss or supervisor. Review your master list with your boss and ask for input regarding what she deems to be your top priorities.

Get Organized

Take a critical look at your desk area or office. Is it functional and efficient or are you buried in stacks of paper and other clutter? Does your office send the message that you are in control or are you subconsciously sending the message that you're disorganized and shouldn't be trusted with important tasks?

In today's office environment, organization is no longer a personal preference. Most workers are being asked to do more with less and disorganization can hinder you and lead to procrastination. You must be organized and more efficient to get everything accomplished. These resources might help.

Timing is Everything

Are you trying to do important tasks when your energy level is low and you're having trouble staying focused? No wonder you're procrastinating.

We all have times during the day when we're energized and mentally alert and times during the day when we're not. Schedule your important tasks for your best time of day.

For example: I'm alert and focused first thing in the morning but find myself fading later in the day. I write and work on critical projects during the morning and save routine follow-up and tasks for afternoon. On the other hand, one of my co-workers is not a morning person but gets a surge of energy just after lunch. She follows a reversed routine.

Listen to your body and schedule your day accordingly.

Tackle Your Worst Task First

Once you've identified your priorities and your best time of day, tackle your worst but most important task first.

We all have them. The tasks or projects we're dreading or the things we want to put off until later.

Look at your list of priorities and ask yourself on which you're most likely to procrastinate. Do it first.

With a little discipline, this will become a habit. You'll be amazed at the difference this will make in your productivity and your stress level. You may just find that the anticipation of doing the task was far worse than the task itself.

Set a Timer

When you're ready to tackle a tough task, set a timer or an alarm for 30 minutes. Tell yourself you're going to stay completely focused and on task for those 30 minutes. Oftentimes, knowing that there's a defined end in sight will help you stay more engaged.

At the end of the 30 minutes, take a 10-minute break. Stand up and stretch or get a drink or small snack. Initially, you might need to set the alarm during the break as well so you don't go past the allotted time frame.

After the break, if there's still more to be done before your task is complete, set the timer for another 30 minutes.

Limit Distractions

Why does it seem like someone appears at your door or the phone rings just as you're getting ready to start a task or project?

If you want to stop procrastinating, you will need to limit distractions:

  • Close your door - when you need to be focused, close your door and put out a sign that says "Working on important project. Please do not interrupt." Work in a cubicle? Consider blocking the entrance with a chair or hanging a sign across the doorway.
  • Turn the ringer off on your phone - there's no rule that says you must answer it every time it rings. That's why voicemail was invented.
  • Stay unplugged - close down your email and social networking sites. If you're only working in Word or Excel, completely disconnect your computer from the Internet. If you need the Internet for research, set a timer to help you get refocused in case you get distracted.
  • Relocate - sometimes your office just has too many distractions. When this happens, relocate. Other workspace options include a conference room, an empty office or my personal favorite, the public library.

Use the tips above to stop procrastinating at work. You'll get more done and get noticed for all of the right reasons.

 

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