Procrastination: The Reason Behind It and How to Drive Results

Procrastination: The Reason Behind It and How to Drive Results

Some would say that procrastination is a fact of life and it simply cannot be avoided. While there may be some truth to that, the reality is some employees do waste time for various reasons. We understand the expectation for someone to sit at their desk for eight hours and not take a break from work is unrealistic, but studies show that, on average, workers waste 34 minutes a day. So how do you keep your employees from procrastinating and wasting valuable work time?

What Causes Procrastination?
Procrastination can stem from a variety of reasons. Are employees bored in their job? Are they overwhelmed or fearful of not doing the task correctly? Did they receive enough direction to get started? Is it something that’s outside their comfort zone and stretches them out of the wheelhouse? Studies show that if a person thinks negatively about an assignment, they’re more likely to do tasks they enjoy first, pushing the negative task to the back burner. Ultimately, it’s physiological, a failure of self-regulation. People tell themselves one thing or it makes them feel a certain way and if it doesn’t align with how they want to feel, they’ll put things off.

Effects of Procrastination
While there are obvious effects of procrastination, including not meeting deadlines, rushed work or even diminished quality of work, there are less obvious effects of procrastinating. With about 20 percent of the population considered “chronic procrastinators”, these people may experience more stress in life along with a lower well-being. Procrastination can lead to conflict between coworkers and upper management. If a person is known to procrastinate, they’ll be less likely to receive new projects or considered for other opportunities. Teams can see a procrastinator as someone who can drag the team down because the same sense of urgency isn’t there.

Solutions to Procrastination in the Workplace
Most people who consider themselves procrastinators look for ways to help them overcome their habit of putting things off. How can you help someone on your team work towards becoming more proactive in their approach? Try employing these strategies:

  1. Deadline Trickery – Allowing your employees to set deadlines on projects may not be the best way to prevent procrastination. Without specific deadlines, employees can put off certain projects until it is crunch time. If you’re running into this, try setting deadlines prior to when something is actually due. This gives the sense of urgency.
  2. Support Them – It’s important to be understanding when addressing this topic with your team. It’s more than an employee scrolling through Facebook. Like mentioned above, there could be a real roadblock causing the procrastination. Chat with them and assess what could be causing their procrastination.
  3. Environment - Make sure you’re providing a work environment where they feel they can talk with you about issues they’re facing. Provide encouragement and support while helping them find solutions to problems they may be facing. Building trust and rapport can lend to better overall performance for your team.
  4. Feedback – Not providing feedback can lead to disengaged team members. When a manager doesn’t follow up with praise or any comments regarding a project a team has completed this can translate to employees as lack of interest or appreciation. This attitude can carry over into other projects and future assignments will be delayed since they don’t see the value or appreciation for them.

We hope this assists you when handling procrastination amongst your team members. If you have experience with mitigating procrastination, leave comment below with your solution.