How To Avoid Procrastination and Boost Your Productivity

Knowing how to stop procrastinating is a valuable skill in business. Procrastination and productivity are polar opposites, but productivity feeds directly into your business’s profits and prosperity. That’s a lot of pro’s – in fact the only negative here is procrastination itself.

In this guide I’ll try to answer the question “what does procrastinate mean?” and look at how to avoid procrastination at work, to help make sure that the time you spend in the workplace translates into productivity, and isn’t just wasted.

You can learn more about these issues in my Diary of an Entrepreneur podcast, where I share my own experiences in building my content marketing business Stada Media. Episode 5 in particular looks at productivity and how to maintain momentum, which I’ll address later in this article.

What does procrastinate mean?

Before we look at how to stop procrastination, let’s make sure we understand what it is. It’s not a complicated definition – procrastination is “the act of delaying or postponing something”.

The word comes from the Latin “crastinus”, meaning “of tomorrow”. If you’re trying to learn how to avoid being a procrastinator, there’s a lesser known Latin phrase you might like to keep in mind: “pro hodie” means “for today”, although “carpe diem” (“seize the day”) is more commonly used.

Why do we procrastinate?

There are many reasons why we procrastinate. Sometimes a challenge appears insurmountable, and it feels safer not to get started. Sometimes an urgent issue pushes other items down the agenda. Sometimes it’s a matter of poor physical or mental health preventing you from making a start, and sometimes it’s poor self-discipline.

Whatever the cause, learning how to avoid procrastination at work can give you a powerful tool set to recognise and overcome this inertia before it robs you of your hard-earned momentum. Even with a few small techniques, knowing how to stop procrastinating can help you make incremental gains to restore your business productivity.

The negative impacts of procrastination

What does ‘procrastinate’ mean in terms of your business? Essentially, it’s any time when you could be productive, but are not. Avoidable lateness and absences, coming back late from lunch, making endless cups of tea or coffee, and getting distracted by social media are all examples of procrastination.

Any business only has a limited amount of time in which to make money – that’s why we go to work, ultimately. Procrastination eats into that time like rust into metal, and in severe cases your business can completely seize up as chronic procrastination leaves you unable to deliver on your goals and on your commitments to your customers.

How to stop procrastination

Knowing how to avoid being a procrastinator can help anyone tackle this blight. This isn’t just something you should focus on as an entrepreneur, it’s also something worth discussing with your employees, and helping them to understand that procrastination will not reduce their workload, but will actually increase the pressure later.

Set specific goals and deadlines

Setting goals, milestones and deadlines is a powerful tool in how to stop procrastination. A schedule will help you to maintain momentum in business and prevent workloads from getting out of control as final deadlines approach.

Break tasks into smaller steps

Break large tasks down into smaller steps. Most work can be sliced into more manageable chunks in this way. If you don’t feel this is possible, try to track your progress towards completing the single overall task – watching the percentage creep from 0% to 50% and beyond can be surprisingly motivating.

Minimise distractions

Shutting out distractions is another essential ability in how to stop procrastination. Applications like Microsoft Word now have ‘Focus Mode’ which will reduce screen clutter to help you concentrate. You may also want to silence phone and email notifications using build-in ‘Do Not Disturb’ options, then handle all your correspondence at one designated time.

Reward yourself

Plan rewards for yourself and your workforce. The “work hard, play hard” mentality isn’t always healthy, but in some cases it’s a good way to ensure that your employees feel their achievements. Knowing that your work matters can be hugely motivating, and can help you to resist procrastinating the next time the inclination hits you.

Don’t overdo it

Finally, one major way to avoid procrastination at work is simply to keep things under control. Don’t take on too much or you WILL burn out eventually. Grow your workforce as required with talented individuals (who may be much more productive than you in their role!).

As your business expands, think about hiring a managing director. This can help to share your leadership burden massively, and reduce those distractions that have been preventing you from being as productive as you would like.

My personal experience with procrastination in business

I’m not immune to procrastination, and in my Diary of an Entrepreneur YouTube series I often talk about the things I do to keep Stada Media moving forwards. I try to never have a day where I don’t build forward momentum in some way. As I said earlier, those incremental gains really build up over time and can make all the difference to your revenues by the end of each financial year.

I’m a big believer in personal progress – my business depends on my skills as an entrepreneur, so I’m always trying to be better. That includes learning how to avoid procrastinating, along with many other areas of business and self-discipline.

For some recommended reading to help you build your business better, read my list of 50 books to transform your business strategy.

The benefits of overcoming procrastination

The benefits of overcoming procrastination can be both immediate and incremental, and should be seen in your business’s bottom line over time. But there are personal benefits too, and the knowledge that you are building momentum every day is hugely empowering.

In the time-critical world of business, don’t waste valuable minutes. Yes take breaks, yes eat lunch, yes stay hydrated, but make sure those things are all helping you to deliver your objectives, and not distracting you from them.

Final thoughts

Nobody’s perfect, and you might find that avoiding procrastination is a continual battle, but with some of the coping mechanisms I’ve outlined here, I hope you’ll be able to get more done. Carpe diem, for an easier tomorrow!

To discuss anything I’ve mentioned in this article, or if you’d like to ask me anything else about my experiences in business, please get in touch.