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4 Easy Ways to Avoid Procrastination When Working from Home

4 Easy Ways to Avoid Procrastination When Working from Home

I was so happy when I started my career as freelancer. I thought that this was it, that I would no longer have to get up early and that there would be no more commuting. I’ll work when I’m most productive and no one will breathe down my neck. I didn’t even imagine that working from home was very different than I thought it would be.

I can’t say that I lacked enthusiasm; I still don’t. But, soon enough, I found myself under the spell of the comforts of my home. I was postponing tasks until they HAD to be done. In the meantime, I was hunting for snacks in my kitchen, dropping on the couch “just for a second” to see what’s going on with my favorite TV show, etc. After just a few months, I was under the impression that I was working all day and I literally had no free time at all.

Then one day, it struck me. I sat down and decided to do all my day’s work in one sitting to see how much time I really spend working. I was surprised with the result. I somehow managed to turn a couple of hours’ work into a whole day of hard work. That’s when I realized I had a problem with procrastination and I decided to fight it with all I had. These are the ways that helped me stay on track and become way more efficient. If I managed to pull it off, so can you, just bear with me.

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1. Create a Home Office

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    First of all, I decided to limit the comforts of my home by turning a guest room into a small office. If you don’t have one, don’t worry, since you can use some corner that has enough light during the day. In case you are a night owl, make sure to have appropriate lighting, so that you don’t fatigue your eyes.

    I planned in advance. I always had a bottle of water with me, so I didn’t have to get up and get tempted on the way to and from the kitchen. A bowl with a couple of fruits was on the table in case I needed a quick snack before the lunch break. I got my phone with me along with the charger and set it to silent mode to prevent distractions from that side.

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    2. Get Some Productivity Software Apps to Keep You On Track

    All of my freelance gigs involve using a computer in order to complete them. Did I accidentally fall into a magical YouTube circle? Or did I maybe endlessly scroll Facebook’s newsfeed back to the year 2010? I’m guilty, your Honor, put me in jail. I’ve lost so much time doing nothing while sitting at my computer staring at nothing useful.

    I decided to make one user account on my computer that’s going to be used only for work. Also, I made one browser only to be used when I’m working. Now, all I can see are job-related bookmarks and tabs. Furthermore, I did some research and found out some extensions that can really help anyone stay focused.

    Just to make sure that I stay productive, I’ve decided to spice it up with time-tracking software. There are many time-tracking tools, such as Toggl, Tick and RescueTime. In the end, I found that using these apps is very useful, because they also generate a report so that I could easily track my work.

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    3. Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize

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      This proved to be an essential thing to do when I waged my war on procrastination. Many of my freelance gigs didn’t have “actual” deadlines. What I actually did before was governed by the following thoughts: “Oh, cool, I don’t have to get this done by tomorrow, I have enough time.” And then, when that tomorrow came, I had to complete many “tomorrow” tasks in just one day. Staying up late working often resulted in poor quality jobs and sometimes I didn’t even manage to finish everything on time.

      That’s when I actually got myself a board I could attach stickers to and I put it on the wall in front of me. I started organizing tasks in timetables and figured out that there is a reason why we had one back in my ex workplace. This helped me get back into the routine and I started taking my freelance jobs seriously enough. The results were incredible; I did more work than I actually planned for that day. I’ve started getting more jobs to fill in the empty time slots and, in the end, I started earning more money.

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      4. Keep The Focus on the Rewards

      I remembered that there was a lecture about procrastination during a psychology course I took back when I was in college, so I decided to do a little bit of a research and found some really interested articles about procrastination on the web.

      All the experts say that motivation is an essential part of avoiding the temptation to procrastinate, and it didn’t take me too long to realize that I lost my sense of motivation because I used to dwell too much on the hard work I had to do to complete my tasks. Remember my priority – the timetable sticker board I mentioned earlier? I started writing down how much money I will earn after completing each task. At the start, it worked well enough, but in time, it lost the effect it had on me.

      That’s when I replaced numbers with the things I would spend or save my money on. Rewards play an important role in forming good habits. Also, I wrote down all the benefits working at home has for me. All this did the trick. Motivation was there to put my focus on good things instead on the hard work ahead of me.

      As you can see, you are in charge! Keep in mind that all of this didn’t happen overnight for me; there was the incubation process that led to some action. However, it’s important to start doing at least something to start getting back on track. It might not be a bad idea to make a list of things you can do to fight procrastination, then sort it from the easiest to the hardest thing you need to do. Start working on your list and take your time to adapt to all the changes.

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      Katarina Milovanovic

      Creative Writer

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      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

      How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

      How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

      We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

      So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

      While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

      Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

      What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

      How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

      But what does being productive actually entail?

      Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

      Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

      It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

      Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

      9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

      1. Avoid Multitasking

      Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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      Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

      If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

      2. Turn off Notifications

      According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

      Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

      The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

      Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

      3. Manage Interruptions

      There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

      Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

      If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

      By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

      4. Eat the Frog

      Mark Twain once famously said that:

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      “if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

      What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

      We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

      Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

      5. Cut Down on Meetings

      Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

      You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

      The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

      But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

      If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

      6. Utilize Tools

      Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

      If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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      And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

      Some examples of tools that could be used:

      Communication
      • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
      • Samepage for video conference software.
      • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
      Task Management
      • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
      • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
      • Wekan for an open source option.
      Database Management
      Time Tracking
      • Clockify for a free tracker.
      • TMetric for workspace integrations.
      • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

      You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

      7. Declutter and Organize

      Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

      Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

      Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

      Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

      8. Take Breaks

      Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

      As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

      Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

      Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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      9. Drink Water

      Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

      Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

      Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

      A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

      If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

      You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

      The Bottom Line

      The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

      After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

      In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

      A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

      Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

      More About Boosting Productivity

      Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

      Reference

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