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Overcome Procrastination & Lack of Motivation

Stop letting procrastination eat 1 hour and 13 mins of your day with this menu of research-backed strategies

The percent of people who self-describe themselves as "chronic procrastinators" has quintupled (yes, that's grown by 5x!) over the last 40 years. According to Gallup polls, 2 out of every 3 American workers are disengaged - meaning they are are not involved in, committed to, or enthusiastic about their workplace. It's worse globally, with 7 out of every 8 workers disengaged.

How much time does the average person spend procrastinating at work? The average across 6 studies was 90 minutes per day, ranging from 43 to 125 minutes per day.

On top of the obvious time spent actually procrastinating, how else does procrastination cost us:

  • Procrastination leads to more missed deadlines (tasks with changed deadlines take an average of 15 more days to complete than their on-time peers)
  • People who procrastinate spend time doing work they never complete (when people miss deadlines, the chances of completing those tasks goes down by 16%)
  • People who procrastinate do lower priority work first (creating idle time for themselves and those they work with, amounting to about 9 mins per day just for them)
  • People who are not motivated work slower and make more errors (disengaged, demotivated people make 60% more errors than their motivated peers)

If you struggle with procrastinating or even waning motivation, it likely feels like nothing will ever change. The good news is that 'bookfuls' of research has been done on procrastination, identifying a range of evidence-based tools. Before you accept slowed and lower quality performance and immerse yourself in the world of social media scrolling, try these research-backed strategies.

Still not convinced? Take your time reading through the details of our time-savings calculations below in the research and analysis section.


"I liked this course a lot. These are things I want to improve on in a big way."

- Consultant, The Bridgespan Group

"Excellent use of time! I have a much better understanding of why I procrastinate and how to break it down into smaller tasks. It's really short, easy to consume, and succinct. Definitely worth it!"

- Software Developer, Kongregate

"This course was amazing! How can I get the documentation?😊😊😊"

- Graduate Student, Pacific School of Religion

Course Curriculum


  How We Lose Time on Procrastination
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  Change the Difficulty of the Task
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  Reduce Temptations to Procrastinate
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  Eliminate the Option of Procrastination
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  Additional Resources
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RESEARCH & ANALYSIS: 1 hr and 13 min/day time-saving opportunity

#1 – Spending time on non-work-related tasks to delay doing work = 43 mins/day

  • There are many surveys and studies that attempt to determine how much time people waste every day by doing tasks other than work. In our review of 6 studies, we found a reported range of 43 minutes to 125.4 mins with an average of 94 minutes.[1,2] We have chosen to assume the least amount of time reported (43 minutes) to be as conservative as possible and because the study finding the 43-minute value explicitly asked about “procrastination,” while the others asked about time spent on non-work-related tasks.


#2 – Making wrong prioritization decisions that result in missed deadlines = 15 mins/day

  • According to research on 0.5M tasks entered into an online to-do list app, when we change (i.e., miss) a deadline, it takes us an additional 15.8 days to complete the task on average[5]
  • During that time of just over three weeks, we assume that we split out time evenly among our 74 active to-dos[3], such that we spend 1.4% of the extra 15.8 days on our missed deadline task, meaning that every missed deadline costs us about 2 hours
  • Of deadlines we miss, we miss at least 14% of them due to prioritization[4]
  • We change deadlines (i.e., a proxy for missing a deadline) on over half of all entered tasks[5]
  • To be more conservative, we assume that had we gotten the work done on time, we would have spent 25% of the post-deadline time before the deadline, so 25% of the time calculated is not actually incremental time
  • When we multiply the 2 hours spread over the 15.8 days (7.6 mins/day) times the number of tasks we miss deadlines due to prioritization decisions [74 x 51% (missed deadlines) x 14% (due to prioritization decision)] and the percent of time we wouldn’t have spent before the deadline (75%), we find that we lose 22.8 mins/day
  • We also assume a 33% overlap with deadlines missed due to poor prioritization decisions, further deducting the time loss to 15.3 mins/day


#3 – Not finishing work we have started = 13 mins/day

  • We work on about 37 different tasks over the course of a day[6], spending an average of 12.8 mins/task.
  • Of these 37 tasks, we’ll miss or change the deadline for 53% of them[5]. For those 20, we are 16% less likely to ever complete them than for tasks we complete on-time[5].
  • This means that we spend time on roughly 3 tasks per day that we won’t complete because we missed the deadline, costing us 40.4 mins/day.
  • We assume that one-third of poor prioritization decisions are made due to procrastination, discounting the amount of time lost to 13.3 mins/day


#4 – Making wrong prioritization decisions that result in idle time = 2 mins/day

  • We experience an average of 13.8 minutes of “others-caused” idle time per day[7]
  • We assume that one-third of this time is the result of a poor prioritization decision on our part that resulted in us not having a consistent stream of work (e.g., we didn’t account for the capacity of our supervisors),[8] even though we report it as “others-caused”
  • As in the above calculation, we assume that one-third of poor prioritization decisions are made due to procrastination
  • One-third of one-third of 13.8 minutes results in potential savings of 1.5 mins/day



Sources/Notes:

  1. Vaden, Rory. “Is Procrastination Killing You and Your Company? Author Offers Proven Distraction Busters.CNBC (Mar 2012): 10,000 employees polled, 125 mins wasted on non-job-related tasks
    1. Korkki, Phyllis. “Driven to Worry, and to Procastinate.New York Times (Feb 2012): 120 mins wasted on nonwork tasks
    2. Employee time tracking: the complete guide to monitoring employees in the workplace.” DeskTime (Accessed Aug 2018): 600 worker survey, 96 mins spent on non-work-related tasks
    3. Connor, Cheryl. “Who Wastes The Most Time At Work?Forbes (Sep 2013): 86 mins of wasted time at work (average of 3 generations)
    4. WORKPLACE PROCRASTINATION COSTS BRITISH BUSINESSES £76 BILLION A YEAR.Global Banking & Finance Review (Feb 2015): 2,000 adults, 43 mins per day spent procrastinating
  2. Note: While we don’t doubt that the higher results are accurate, we chose to use the minimum in order to be as conservative and realistic as possible when projecting potential savings and to account for any overlap between this category of potential time-savings and the ones that follow. Also, the survey that produced the 43 mins/day used the language “procrastination,” whereas the other surveys were focused on all non-work-related activities
  3. Bellotti, V., et. al. 2004. What a To-Do: Studies of Task Management Towards the Design of a Personal Task List Manager.
  4. The Cost of Poor Project Management.” PwC: Project Management Institute (2016)
  5. Wilcox, K., Laran, J., Stephen, A. T., Zubcsek, P. P. “How Being Busy Can Increase Motivation and Reduce Task Completion Time.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2016).
  6. Note: Some studies have shown we complete 50% of our tasks on our list in a day, but this study also showed that only 15% of completed tasks were entered onto the list before completion, which suggests 50% is a more accurate representation of tasks engaged than tasks completed.
  7. Blanding, Michael. “American Idle: Workers Spend Too Much Time Waiting for Something to Do.” Harvard Business School: Working Knowledge (Jan 2018).
  8. This is assumption is based on common reasons given for others-caused idle time in which several reasons are given for idle time: poor allocation work, overstaffing, equipment failure). For lack of better data, we assumed an even split between these 3 reasons.
 

About Us


Zarvana
Zarvana

Our goal is putting time back in your life. We help individuals and companies save time by developing productive habits and adopting productive mindsets based on real research into where people lose time and how they can get it back.


Our online courses enable you to take ~5 minutes of your daily Facebook or Instagram scrolling time and get something for it. Here's how they work:

  • Micro-lessons: ~5 mins each, 1-2 hours over a month
  • Learning as a game: Learn by answering questions, no long reading
  • Habit-focused: Designed to help you change your behaviors

Frequently Asked Questions


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