Everyone is guilty of workplace procrastination from time to time. Whether you’re checking social media or chatting with coworkers, procrastination can be easily abused, and can wreak havoc on your task management, productivity, performance, and even your health.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Selection and Assessment, procrastination is correlated with lower salaries and shorter lengths of employment. What’s more, a separate study found that people with chronic procrastination are more susceptible to health-related conditions, like cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
If you’re like most people and struggle with procrastination, it’s time to kick the habit once and for all. Use these tips to boost productivity and tackle your to-do list with confidence.
Practice the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle says that 20 percent of your tasks should yield 80 percent of results. In other words, determine what tasks on your to-do list will yield the greatest results and prioritize from there.
When evaluating which tasks will provide the most value to the overall picture, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this add value?
- Does this get me closer to my end-goal?
- Can I delegate this to someone else?
- Am I spending too much time on this?
Answering these questions will not only help you prioritize your to-do list, but it will help you create more time for yourself. For example, by delegating tedious work you have more time to work on the 20 percent that’s most important. Better task management will help you focus in what matters.
Break down your tasks
A traditional to-do list may not be enough to keep you focused on the task at hand. Experts at Zety suggest taking a project-management approach by writing each task on a post-it note and breaking down each task based on two factors:
- Dependency: Whom do you need to do what? This will determine how early you start on a task, leaving room for someone else to weigh in or complete something.
- Time: Denote the time needed for each task. Be realistic about the amount of time you have in the work day and leave room for disruptions.
Not only does this hold you more accountable, but using this strategy, you’re able to better plan your days and weeks.
Prioritize your hardest tasks
It’s often easier to knock out the easier, less labor-intensive tasks on your to-do list. When you’re not in the mood to work, the smaller tasks are easier to handle. However, this leaves the harder more intimidating tasks for later.
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By doing this, you run the risk of not getting the task done as other distractions take you away from focusing or finding time, which can lead to negative consequences. In the case of having a challenging conversation with a client, when put off for too long, it could lead to lost revenue, which impacts everyone.
Instead, task management aficionados tackle the most challenging tasks earlier in the day. These are often the most important tasks, and you don’t want to risk running out of time to get them done.
Know when and to whom to delegate
Delegating tasks to others can be difficult because you assume it’s easier to simply do yourself. Simply explaining what to do and how to do it does take time, but taking too much can lead to poor time management and shady results. Trusting your co-workers or employees to do the job well is a critical skill, especially as you grow into management roles.
The key is delegating tasks to someone who has the skills to complete it and trusting that it will get done. To do so, follow the 70 percent rule. Inc. explains what this is: “Put simply, if the person the CEO would like to perform the task is able to do it at least 70 percent as well as he can, he should delegate it.”
Use this to decide who is best suited for the task and then commit to working with that person. Over time, they’ll learn your style and requirements, which creates even less work for you. Additionally, consider taking some training in project management where you will learn more about task management and their delegation.
Do you ever feel like you’re doing 10 things at once, but end up doing nothing at all? Multitasking is widely considered a positive trait, when in reality, trying to do too many things at once can actually work against you in the workplace. Rescue Time breaks phenomenon down according to computer scientist and psychologist Gerald Weinberg:
- Focusing on one task at a time = 100% of your productive time available
- Two tasks at a time = 40% of your productive time for each and 20% lost to context switching
- Three tasks at a time = 20% of your productive time for each and 40% lost to context switching
That’s not task management, but chaos management 😉 Instead of jumping between tasks and killing your productivity in the meantime, use a time management tool like Harvest to keep track of your time. Give each item on your to-do list a predefined amount of time to be completed and the hold yourself to it, taking breaks in between to check email or grab a coffee.
Become a task management master
Procrastination can be a productivity killer in the workplace. Don’t let another minute go to waste!
Instead, use these tips to become better at task management, getting more done in less time.