9 Ways You Procrastinate Without Realizing It

We are all guilty of falling prey to procrastination. Whilst we should (and rightly do) feel guilty about watching that new Netflix series when we really ought to have been working, there are lots of ways that we procrastinate on a daily basis without realizing it. These can build up if unchecked, wasting lots of your time and reducing your work output.

Here are some of the ways we’re subconsciously escaping putting our nose to the grindstone:

1) Snacking

Constant trips to the kitchen, either at home or at work, and hunting through the fridge and cupboards for yet another snack can take up far more of your time than you might initially realize. Especially as this can lead to you engaging in meaningless chit-chat with your colleagues. Next time you’re about to make your 4th cup of tea, think about whether you’re really going to drink it or if it’s just a great way of escaping your emails for 5 minutes.

2) Smoking

There are many reasons why we smoke; as well as the addictive powers of the substances in cigarettes, the aspect of isolation and time out from the pressures of conversations and the working day can also prove addictive. Consider whether your last cigarette was a result of nicotine cravings, or simply a valid means of escaping the office and your colleagues.

3) Messaging on social media

Getting through a large quantity of messages on social media can feel like a highly productive use of time, reaching out to lots of people. But what is this really achieving?

Often we feel as though we’re just ‘checking’ Facebook, but this can lead to extensive time caught up in someone else’s photos, and before you know it ten minutes have passed. In fact, we spend an average of 50 minutes a day on Facebook alone. Consider who you actually need to message, and whether you’re actually saying something important, as opposed to just maintaining a meaningless conversation.

4) Cooking

Whilst it’s always great to have a healthy diet of home cooked, nutritious meals, consider whether you’re using time in the kitchen to avoid getting your work done. Did you really need to bake that last batch of cookies, or are they just a great way of avoiding that tricky email you really need to send?

5) Commuting

Whilst your commute is very likely a necessary part of your day, long commutes can equal a huge amount of time down the drain. Spending an hour on the tube simply waiting to arrive at your destination is just as bad as an hour of procrastination. You can utilise your journey in a whole host of different ways, from reading and listening to podcasts to learning a new language or preparing for a presentation.

6) Tidying and cleaning

A tidy house means a tidy mind, and it’s always important to keep the space where you work organised. But did the hallway need hoovering again? And did you need 2 weeks’ worth of shirts ironed right this minute? Whilst being overly obsessive with cleaning or tidying may just be a part of your personality, also be aware that it may signify a subconscious effort to avoid other tasks or work.

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7) Grocery shopping

If you plan ahead and make a comprehensive shopping list, you realistically only need to do a big food shop once a week – and with the convenience of modern technology, you can even get this shop delivered right to your door.

Popping to the shop every morning or afternoon to pick up one or two more items can be a huge waste of time. Plan ahead, make a list, and stop going back to the shop every 5 minutes.

8) Doing work to avoid work

Whilst this may sound ridiculous, one of the best ways to trick yourself into avoiding the hard work that really needs doing is to get on with other, easier or less pressured tasks.

Whilst you may have a difficult essay due next week, working on a presentation for a month’s time away still feels productive. Avoid this form of procrastination by listing your work tasks in order or priority and deadline, and getting on with the top of the list first!

9) Making lists and over-organizing

Whilst in certain situations (like point 8!) making a list or writing down an organised plan can hugely benefit your levels of productivity, over-organizing can waste a lot of your time.

Making lists about every last thing, and colour coding your plan to the extent where you can barely read it anymore is certainly not an effective use of your time. Watch that you don’t fall into the trap of feeling productive when all you’ve done is outlined all the things that need your attention!


Alexandra Jane is the writer of graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency. Check out their website to see which internships and graduate marketing jobs are currently available.



Main image credit.


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