Procrastination is one of the biggest problems faced by the modern workforce. The average worker admits to wasting about 2 hours every work day. This means that employers are wasting about $10,000 a year, per employee, on procrastination.
While there's no denying that breaks are an important part of productivity, that they help avoid burnout and boost morale, it's also clear that unmonitored procrastination is not the ideal way to make that happen. Understanding that it's difficult to combat procrastination alone, we've compiled 6 great tools that you and your workforce can use to fight this problem.
- Strict Workflow
If you're a believer in the Pomodoro technique, this is a good one to have. Strict Workflow runs on a timer. For 25 minutes, it blocks access to distracting websites (such as Facebook). After the 25 minutes are up, the timer goes off, and employees are given a five minute sanity break. Research has shown that for certain kinds of tasks, this approach helps with mental agility and burnout.
The tool is very easy to use. You just click on the tomato timer to start a 25 minute session. It comes configured to block popular distracting websites, and you can add additional sites. If this method proves ineffective, you can set it up to whitelist sites instead, so that only specific sites are allowed.
Assuming you're using Firefox, this can be a great alternative to Strict Workflow. If you're not a fan of the Pomodoro technique, Leechblock is another way to block access to specific websites. You can set it up on a timer, or you can set it up to come on during set times of day. One of the better features of this tool is that you can also set it up to allow a certain amount of access to a certain site, with time limits per hour.
This one also allows you to prevent people from deactivating the program by setting up a password or a random access code.
This piece of cloud-based project management software is perfect for keeping workers on schedule. Unlike tools designed specifically for project managers, WorkZone is useful not only for scheduling project tasks, but for sharing documents and providing team members with to-do lists. With some basic time-tracking utility thrown into the mix, WorkZone is beautiful in its simplicity and utility. Status alerts warn team members when they are falling behind.
This tool also brings a few other useful features into the mix, including Gantt charts, file versioning, and project lists. One of the more clever features is the ability of the project manager to remove features for users, so that they don't get distracted. WorkZone is great at giving teams something they can understand, without giving project managers a toothless piece of software.
- Mee Timer
This time tracking tool doesn't block access to sites. Instead, it measures how much time you spend on sites. It compiles information about your browsing habits, and reports the time as a percentage of work hours. This is another Firefox tool. To discourage procrastination, Mee Timer also warns users when they click a link or open a new tab.
- Rescue Time
More expensive than some of the other options on the list, Rescue Time is also one of the best time tracking tools for the PC. This web app measures where you are spending time on your computer. By seeing a breakdown of where you are investing your time, you start to realize just how much waste there is, and how much better you can budget your time.
The best thing about this tool is the fact that it measures time on applications as well as websites. A weekly email summary compiles the data. You can also use it to set goals for the day, and to receive a "productivity score."
- Remember the Milk
Best suited for personal goal setting, this is a good one to recommend to your workforce. Remember the Milk is a smartphone app that you can use to set simple sequential goals for yourself. This way, you never run into a situation where you don't know what you should be doing next.
Kill Those Time Sinks
These tools can be powerful in your quest to end workforce procrastination, but it's also important to use them wisely. Used improperly, tools themselves can become distractions. Stick to simple tools, and focus on getting people to use them habitually and instinctively. Also keep the role of incentives in mind. Workers will always find a way to procrastinate if they feel they deserve it, or that putting in the extra work won't offer any benefits.
This blog was written by Dipti Parmar. Dipti Parmar, is a digital marketing wiz associated with E2M Solutions. She’s been journeying through the world of digital marketing for 6 years and is a blogger and networker. She’s also a movie buff and loves taking long walks by the seashore. Follow her on Twitter at @dipTparmar