Motivation and procrastination are intrinsically linked, especially in the workplace.
You would think that when we have multiple tasks and projects to deliver it would be easy to stay motivated. But when we’re overwhelmed with too much to do, our natural reaction is to procrastinate.
Then we panic because we know we’re missing deadlines. This panic turns into an erratic burst of activity to tackle tasks, but it doesn’t mean we’re focused on the right things.
It’s a vicious cycle. Even though it’s not the most effective way to work, we do it anyway. So let’s look at some ways to overcome procrastination and stay motivated in the workplace.
Don’t jump into action each morning and just work on whatever tasks or projects seem the easiest or most exciting. Instead, start each day with a plan.
Ask yourself “what’s the most important task I need to work on?”
If you don’t already have a task management system in place, now would be a good time to start. When you have a list of tasks and projects you need to achieve, it is much more effective than trying to keep track of everything in your head.
A to-do list is an effective way to prioritise what you need to achieve, but it’s also a good way of making sure what you’re doing is adding value.
Part of the reason we lack motivated is that we don’t see the value of the task to be completed.
We all have dull tasks that aren’t appealing, but when they’re viewed from a different perspective, procrastination can be avoided.
Ask yourself “why am I working on this task?”
If the task adds value to a project or business goal, use the benefit it delivers to motivate you into completing it. When you know you’re adding value, it can provide a motivational boost.
If you can’t figure out why you’re doing the task in the first place, then there’s a good chance that it’s not adding any value and can be eliminated from your day.
Take the opportunity on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to evaluate your tasks and ensure they’re adding value to your project or objectives. There’s nothing more motivating than identifying and eliminating busy-work, and focusing on what’s important instead.
When you breakdown your tasks into smaller segments, they suddenly seem much more achievable.
When your task list includes a list of your highest priorities, it can still be overwhelming. One of the most common causes for this is because the tasks you’re trying to achieve are too large to deliver easily.
These types of tasks are easy to start, but they’re difficult to finish. We run out of motivation because we become bored or lose focus, and that of course leads to another round of procrastination.
If you’re faced with a task that seems overwhelming, ask yourself “how can I break this down into more manageable sized chunks of activity?”
This questioning approach works for projects, but often we overlook the obvious potential of applying the same chunking approach to tasks.
When you breakdown your tasks into smaller segments, they suddenly seem much more achievable. This puts a positive perspective on task management and can help you avoid the pitfalls of procrastination.
Using this what, why and how approach can really keep you focused. It’s the simple art of asking questions that is the most effective tool for overcoming procrastination and staying motivated.
Managers can establish regular project and task check points with their teams to maintain a consistent level of engagement without falling into the trap of micromanagement. This will allow them to anticipate business risks and coach their teams through the challenges.
Our contributing author is Jay Artale, a Global Operations Project Lead and Corporate Management Consultant. Her business expertise is Change Management, Performance KPIs, Team Collaboration and Employee Engagement.
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