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.
1. Create a Home Office
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.
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.
3. Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize
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.
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.