By Aoibhinn Mc Bride
From loading laundry when working from home to falling down a Wiki rabbit hole, we all know what procrastination looks like. Studies show that roughly one in five people globally are textbook procrastinators, while 88 per cent of those who responded to a newsletter survey said they tended to procrastinate for at least one hour a day.
But "procrastiworking", procrastination’s insidious cousin is much harder to detect and tends to masquerade as work even though nothing is getting done.
From playing around with the font on a presentation when you haven’t finished writing the content for the last couple of slides to organising an office whip-round for someone’s birthday, procrastiworking looks like work and might even seem like work, but it’s a form of procrastination.
But is putting off important tasks by focusing on more menial ones impacting your career?
Leadership speaker and author Rory Vaden has identified this subtler form of procrastination as “Priority Dilution” and says it happens when “you delay the day’s most important tasks by allowing your attention to shift to less important but perhaps more urgent activities”.
He adds: "Distraction is a dangerously deceptive saboteur of your goals,” Vaden confirms.
"You must learn to ignore the small stuff in order to work on the big stuff".
Addressing the issue
So how can you stop procrastiworking in its tracks and ensure that you’re not wasting your time, energy and focus on work that isn’t adding to your professional development or the goals of your company?
Step one is owning it and acknowledging what your go-to version of procrastiworking looks like. If you know that your concentration wanes after lunch and your mind tends to wander, implementing a productivity hack could be the solution.
Made famous in the 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method of working in short 25-minute bursts, interjected by five-minute breaks.
Or you could implement a “scary hour” into your day. Coined by San Francisco-based copywriter Laur Wheeler, which has since gone viral on TikTok, “scary hour” involves setting a timer for 60 minutes and in that time, only working on tasks that you’ve been avoiding because they make you feel stressed.
When the 60 minutes are up, you move on to something else and while some fans advocate that first thing in the morning is the best time to complete a scary hour, it can be done at any time of the day.
Alternatively, body doubling is another way to hold yourself accountable and focus on deep work. Frequently used by neurodivergent workers, body doubling entails virtually co-working with strangers in silence and has been found to increase productivity.
"Before the pandemic, as entrepreneurs my co-founder and I would often go to coffee shops to co-work and keep each other accountable. During the pandemic, we weren’t able to do that so we tried recreating the experience online," explains Ricky Yean, Co-Founder and CEO of body doubling app Flow Club.
“If you’ve ever felt that you got more done at a cafe, a library, or at the office than if you were working at home by yourself, you’ve experienced a mild version of body doubling.”
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