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Last Updated on May 6, 2020

4 Easy Ways to Avoid Procrastination When Working from Home

4 Easy Ways to Avoid Procrastination When Working from Home

Freelancing and working from home are becoming more and more common, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many assume that working from home can only bring positive change. Who wouldn’t want to work on their own schedule, get up later, and avoid the heavy traffic of a commute? However, once people begin to work from home, they see that it’s a bit different than they thought it would be and that procrastination at work can easily take over[1].

It’s not that people lack enthusiasm or motivation. It’s simply that the pull of distractions is quite strong, and many aren’t prepared to face them immediately. They find themselves postponing tasks until they absolutely have to be done, hunting for snacks in the kitchen, dropping onto the couch “just for a second” to see what’s going on with their favorite TV show, etc. After just a few months, many feel that they are working all day and having almost less free time than before.

Fortunately, most of the major problems with productivity while working from home have to do with procrastination and distractions, which have some simple remedies if you’re willing to work on them. Here are some tips to help you stay on track and become more efficient.

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1. Create a Home Office

Start by limiting the comforts of home[2] by turning a spare room into a small office. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. Just use a corner of the living or bedroom 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.

Before heading into your home office for the day, imagine what you may need for the next couple of hours. For example, put a bottle of water and a small snack on the desk so you won’t have to get up when you get hungry. Also, make sure you have a charger for both your computer and cell phone so you won’t have to go searching for them later. These can all cause distractions that can set you on a path toward procrastination.

You can also take a look at these 20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity.

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2. Use Productivity Software Apps

Since most work done from home involves using a computer or other piece of technology, getting distracted by unrelated sites throughout the day can be a huge barrier to productivity. There are now several extensions[3] and apps you can use to limit time spent on specific websites, so if you find you often get distracted by YouTube, for example, put a limit of 30 minutes to keep yourself focused.

Also, consider creating a user account on your computer that’s going to be used only for work and delegate a specific browser for when you’re working in order to see all job-related bookmarks and tabs.

If you still have trouble staying on track, try to use time-tracking tools, such as Toggl, Tick and RescueTime. Many of them will generate a report so that you can easily track your work and how you use your time. If these don’t work, take a look at this article to find some other time management tools that may work for you.

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3. Prioritize Your Tasks

Prioritization is essential when fighting procrastination. Most freelance work won’t have deadlines, so staying on task can be even more difficult. Therefore, figuring out which things are most important throughout the day is key.

Prioritization looks different for everyone. It can include a board with notes and stickers, a timetable in Excel, or a list in one of the various productivity apps out there. Once you’re able to prioritize your tasks, you’ll see how effectively things get done.

4. Focus on the Rewards

Reward and punishment is an essential part of human psychology when it comes to motivation[4]. Rewards play an important role in forming good habits. Different rewards will work for different people, so identifying what you want as a reward is the first step. Are you motivated by money? Recognition? Free time? Snacks? Write these down and assign a reward to each task.

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Final Thoughts

As you can see, you are in charge! Going from working in an office to work from home is a big change, and adjusting won’t happen overnight. It’s important to get started with some of these tips to keep you on track, and after a bit of time, you’ll find that you’re able to be more productive throughout the day.

More Tips on Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Progressive Insurance via unsplash.com

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Katarina Milovanovic

Creative Writer

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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