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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 November 19, 2019

      Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

      Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

      I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

      How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

      Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

      So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

      1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

      Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

      For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

      Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

      “When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

      2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

      These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

      This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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      But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

      Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

      For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

      There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

      3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

      It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

      Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

      4. Use Your Phone Wisely

      Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

      If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

      5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

      If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

      In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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      One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

      6. Use a “To Don’t” List

      We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

      But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

      Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

      7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

      When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

      Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

      “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

      And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

      8. Be Concise

      Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

      One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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      Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

      • Making new contacts
      • Talking about yourself at a job interview
      • Meeting people at conferences or parties
      • Phone calls to new clients

      9. Ask the Right Questions

      “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

      How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

      When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

      Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

      Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

      10. Learn as Much as You Can

      You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

      Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

      “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

      11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

      No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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      If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

      What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

      Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

      12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

      As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

      But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

      The Bottom Line

      The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

      Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

      More About Working Smart

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

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