How to Find Procrastination at Work and Squash It

Procrastination is something we have all experienced at some point in our lives. There is no expiration date when dealing with the challenge of procrastination, it is the monkey on your back that follows you into the workforce. In this post, we will go over strategies to help you find procrastination in the workplace and squash it.


There are many takes on addressing procrastination. As with most things, it’s best to stick with the process that works for you and your team. The approach I take is similar to the one used by Jotform CEO, Aytekin Tank.

Crush indecision and unknowns

Unanswered questions can lead to procrastination. When an unknown is hindering us from completing a task it is easy to step away from the task under the guise of waiting for more information. A way to tackle this is by getting in the same room or on a call with whoever has the answers. It shouldn’t be a struggle to get everyone in the same room or on the same page. The more answers you have, the easier it is to move forward.

Collaborate in real time

Sometimes the answer you’re looking might not be readily available or you might just be stuck. In situations like these, you’ll have to find the answer yourself. A good technique to use in these situations is co-piloting. Co-piloting works when two people sit at the same computer and try and talk through the issue and come up with a solution. The technique works because someone is literally watching you work, so you can’t switch tasks or check out for a while.

Break it down

It is easier to procrastinate when you’re facing a large project or task. It can be hard to get the wheels turning when you’re focused on the magnitude of the task ahead. Instead of focusing on one large task, break it down into smaller manageable steps. This will help you avoid bottlenecks and frustration while enjoying the reward of consistent progress.

Slash bureaucracy

Empower your employees to take action. As mentioned earlier, waiting is a gateway to procrastination. Not to mention the fact that it kills productivity, blocks team progress and drains excitement. Having a streamlined system that empowers employees and delegates any potential blockers to a process leaves little room for procrastination. It will also give your employees a sense of accountability.

Plan a team push

Unfinished tasks should be considered the enemy. We schedule a weekly co-work to go through any unfinished or lingering tasks.  This will keep your processes streamlined and your workflow uninterrupted. Any team members stuck on a task other members can join the effort in the co-work and finish the task as a team.

Harness Momentum

If the team is stuck, waiting for answers or motivation, it’s difficult to re-start the engine. This is why it’s important to harness your team’s energy and productivity. Once they are rolling it is important to keep them rolling so they avoid productivity traps like procrastination. When your team is rolling it makes it easier to schedule successful co-works that actually get things done. Keep the wheels turning!

Show your work

Our team uses Trello and before a task can be closed the owner of the card must attach a finished product to the card. This might be in the form of a screenshot, a google doc, or even a short video recording. This motivates everyone to finish what they start while rewarding real progress. When you’re encouraged to show the work you complete you’re more motivated to get the work done, instead of, you know, procrastinating.

Make projects/tasks visible

In order for our co-works to be successful, team members need to be aware of the tasks that still need to be completed. Through our boards on Trello, team members can see what tasks are being worked on, what tasks are planned, and what tasks are still in the backlog. This challenges members to be accountable for their work and their time.

Separate work and play

This seems pretty straightforward but it can be easier said than done. Try limiting your workspace to only things that are work-related. No business articles, no emails, and no social media. None. Also try and to maintain a calm, productive office environment that promotes focus and flow.

Do the toughest task first

It’s easier to think well when your brain is rested and you haven’t slipped into decision fatigue. Productivity declines and fewer tasks are completed as the day’s end approaches.

Enjoy the rewards

Completing the tasks assigned to you might not be the most exciting part of your day, but it will result in a sense of accomplishment and control. Aytekin Tank experiences this at Jotform and I can say that I have at Anant as well. When you’re tempted to procrastinate try and remember that finishing what you set out to do feels better than the instant gratification you could receive from procrastinating.

Set time limits

Setting time limits can help you get started on your task, but it can also prevent you from getting bored when completing the more tedious tasks. Work uninterrupted for 25 minutes and take a timed break before diving back into your work again. This keeps you fresh and will quickly add up to create real progress.

Follow a strict order

If you’re failing to plan, you’re planning to procrastinate. If you have a set plan that you never deviate from it forces you to tackle issues and questions right away instead of putting them off until a later time.

These are just a few tips that can help you battle procrastination at your workplace. They have worked and continue to work for me, but it is important to adopt practices that work for you. If you’re curious about optimizing your team’s time, also check out our blog post on doing that using Jira Cloud and Tempo Timesheets. If you have any other practices to help combat procrastination that we may have missed send us an email!


Photo by Chase Clark on Unsplash