One reason we procrastinate is that we want our work to be perfect. Just imagine how well you’ll feel after completing your task with a solid result: positive emotions will help to start working.
Here’s something we can both agree on:
Productivity is the #1 trait for customer support agents to develop if they want to satisfy clients with their services and, as a result, with a brand they represent.
Marketers and business owners understand that, so they try hard to give a fail deal for customer support teams work: comfortable workplaces, bonuses, corporate trainings, out-of-office activities… You name it!
But one small yet dangerous saboteur remains there still, deliberately damaging all endeavors and killing productivity at its grassroots level:
Nothing human is alien to customer support agents: they check Instagram instead of answering the calls and close the tickets, drink coffee and read Facebook news feeds for a long time and, as a result, miss deadlines or disappoint customers.
Scientists nailed it a long ago: people procrastinate to avoid unpleasant tasks and substitute them with something that provides a mood boost. Yes, procrastination causes guilt and shame, but these feelings lead to nothing but procrastinating even further.
Good news is that you can handle it.
They who will help here are your emotions.
Can Positive Emotions Help to Boost CS Agents Productivity?
The answer is yes.
All you need to do is beat the impulse to procrastinate by calming yourself and motivating yourself to new horizons. For example, you can watch motivational lectures from TED, read advice from customer support experts, or listen to songs giving you a creative drive and ambition.
One reason we procrastinate is that we want our work to be perfect. Just imagine how well you’ll feel after completing your task with a solid result: positive emotions will help to start working. Once you’ve overcome the fear of mistake and failure, you’ll feel happy with your omnipotence.
What Tricks Can I Use to Start Working?
The best and most obvious trick would be to… start working, especially if you procrastinate because of the fear of failure. Even if some parts of your work appear imperfect, it’s better than nothing anyway.
To cause positive emotions that help to work, do the following:
1. Say “No!” to Boredom
Sometimes you can’t start working simply because your next task or project is… well, boring. Monotonous tasks are faster and easier to complete while listening to music or favorite movie in the background. Sure enough, it won’t turn the dull task into a fascinating job, but the process will become more positive itself.
The key is to make sure your boredom killers don’t kill your productivity as well. There’s always a risk you’ll get into them and miss deadlines.
Another trick that helps to beat dull tasks comes from Mike Hanski, tutor of freelance writers and customer support agents behind Bid4Papers. He recommends to “set a timespan – let it be 20 minutes – when you can’t do anything except work and allow yourself to relax (take a walk, have a snack, etc.) after this time winds down.”
Keeping to such a schedule, you’ll complete tasks faster.
2. Make a Plan
The strongest emotion feeding your procrastination is fear. Often, a project seems so dark and boundless that it brings you to a standstill even before you start. To put up with emotions, break the project apart: it will turn an abstract task into a list of clear, particular actions.
Once you’ve finished a small part of the task, you’ll feel more confident and ready to continue.
Before you start working, make a clear plan of actions and decide on the flow of its execution. It will help to see how much time you’ll need to deal with each stage. Set a deadline for each item of the plan so it would be more difficult to take the eye off the ball and procrastinate.
Author of How to be Really Productive, Grace Marshall recommends making short lists of actions to do in a short period of time. For example, you assign five tasks to finish in an hour. The challenge is to stay within that hour, even if procrastinating every now and then.
3. Wake Up to Your Strengths
Let’s face it:
Often, you procrastinate over a task because it seems too simple to complete. You believe you’ll handle it fast and without a sweat, so you lay it on a shelf and promise to do it later.
It’s a semblance, and customer support agents oughtn’t to do it. Otherwise, deadlines come, and it suddenly appears that you allowed too little time for that work. To avoid stress and other negative emotions related to that, be realistic about the amount of work as well as your potential to complete it in the available time.
Do a mental tally of time you spend on each separate phase of work: it may appear the task won’t be so fast to deal with, and you need to start right now to meet the deadline.
If the task is simple indeed and you can’t force yourself to start working on it, think of its role for the whole project. This trick will help to take it more seriously.
4. Turn Off the “You of Tomorrow” Mode
The problem of most people is that they treat future selves like strangers. Putting things off, we think something like “Okay, that future me will come later and take care of everything.” We somehow believe that “me of tomorrow” will have more energy and time to deal with tasks, so we continue procrastinating today.
But you know what?
A new day comes; we stay busy; our “future selves” appear to be the same tired. And yes, we continue procrastinating even more that did it yesterday.
Alas, there’s no abstract “you of tomorrow”: no matter what, you are responsible for everything you do and don’t do today. Once you realize it, you won’t be able to use the same excuses; instead, think of organizing the working schedule so you could finally find time for what you have been putting off.
5. Minimize Distractions
Killing the boredom of some customer support agents, background music can prevent others from concentrating on work. The same goes for any other kinds of distractions.
Just listen to your gut. Do you work best in twilight? Curtain the windows. Do you need stony silence? Consider earmuffs or soundproof earphones.
Also, try browser applications telling how much time you spend on social media. Once you see the size of the problem, you’ll take it more seriously.
Turn off notifications and don’t check email while working. Or, follow the example of George R.R. Martin who types Game of Thrones on the ancient computer with no internet access. I doubt if this hack comes in handy for customer support agents who need internet for work, but you can try it with any other kind of task anyway.
Just Do It
If none of the above tricks helps, try to get benefit from your procrastination. It’s useful to take breaks from work sometimes: procrastination gives time to change perspective and think over out-of-the-box solutions for your problems. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist and professor at the Wharton School, considers it a crucial component of a creative process.
However, take into consideration the fact that far from all breaks are equally useful.
Psychologist Maria Konnikova recommends procrastinating while walking with no smartphone in the pocket. Social networks won’t distract you, and such a directionless stroll “can dramatically boost creativity.”
And yet, don’t demand too much from yourself. We aren’t machines that can work with no breaks. A small pause will help to “reload” and continue supporting customers with renewed vigor.