If you’ve found yourself putting off work, you’re not alone. We all procrastinate. Procrastination is the habit of delaying an important task, usually by focusing on less urgent, more enjoyable, and easier activities instead.

As the pandemic drags on, many of us are dealing with anxiety, isolation, and burnout. Even small tasks, which seemed easily completed before, are feeling harder and harder to check off. Suddenly, minor, clerical tasks can feel like climbing a mountain, which Sarah Greenberg, a licensed psychotherapist and leadership coach explains, is related to a lack of “intrinsic motivation around them.”

So what can you do if you think you might be a habitual procrastinator?

Forgive yourself.

Recognize that you are procrastinating, identify the reasons behind your behavior, and forgive yourself. This works because procrastination is linked to negative feelings. Procrastination is not laziness. Forgiving yourself can reduce the guilt you feel about procrastinating, which is one of the main triggers for procrastinating in the first place.

Don't wait until you are in the right mood.

One of the most important things is to recognize that you don't have to be in the mood to do a certain task. Most of us seem to believe that our emotional state has to match the task at hand. But that's just not true. Recognize that you're rarely going to feel like it, and that it doesn't matter if you don't feel like it.

Start with one small step.

Even if it's a tiny action such as working for 10 to 15 minutes on a task, a little progress will make you feel better about the job ahead and increase your self-esteem, which in turn reduces your need to procrastinate to make yourself feel better.

Procrastination is a habit – a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. This means that you probably can't break it overnight. Habits only stop being habits when you avoid practicing them, so try as many strategies as possible to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding.

How can you help?

As the pandemic drags on, many of us are dealing with anxiety, isolation, and burnout. “Procrastination can be a sign or outcome of burnout,” says Greenberg. This means, when we’re heading into a burnout zone, our reaction may be to avoid assignments we know are important.

Fortunately, if you’re a manager, you can help your employees fight burn out. First, connect with them by proactively checking in. Adam Goodman, director of Northwestern University’s Center for Leadership, says ‘burnout can be remedied through a healthy discussion about life and work. In order to prevent burnout, it comes down to showing compassion and interest in your employees, no matter how small: “An easy starting place is having informal quick ‘connects’ on a weekly basis. They’re as simple as a quick hallway conversation, email, IM, or phone call.”

Enough reading, it's time for a well-thought-out, inspirational, information and entertaining Ted talk by Tim Urban. We think you'll love it.

Stop procrastinating, start anticipating! Here's to a proactive version of yourself, from the team at Anista Employee Benefits! 🙂