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Last Updated on August 26, 2021

Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

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Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

Procrastination is in a human’s biological makeup. Thanks to our limbic system, the neurological powerhouse that controls our emotions and memory, we are inclined to feel before we think. To avoid experiencing negative feelings, we keep away from tasks that may overwhelm or inconvenience us.

Because we are inclined to seek and enjoy pleasure first, we tend to give in to things that make us happy instantly. It is so instant that we don’t see a point in neglecting ourselves. But it blinds us from viewing the consequences due to procrastination — more than 3 hours go missing every single day, and about 55 days — almost 2 months are lost every year.

It All Comes down to Our Emotions

The essential way to overcome procrastination is by regulating these emotions. When obligations are dreadful, they drag our feet to complete them. Most people tend to confuse work with emotional suffering because the task at hand may appear to be complicated or difficult; which can cause anxiety or despair.

The more complicated or challenging the work may be, the more challenge-averse we become. All of these negative feelings and reservations add up, making people avoid the tasks altogether to keep from experiencing suffering or negativity.

Dealing with procrastination

1. Break your tasks down

Difficult or complicated tasks tend to easily overwhelm people, causing them to lose interest in the project and faith in themselves.

The key is to make these tasks more manageable.

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How do you do this? By breaking them up into smaller, digestible elements that will eventually add up to complete the big picture. This way, a lot of the strain is lifted, and you can find a little more enjoyment in your work.

Before breaking down the tasks, as a whole they appear to be time consuming and challenging.  Small, manageable parts you can take action on immediately.  The smaller the tasks, the easier you will find them to manage.  So it’s good to break down your tasks into elements that will only take you 45 minutes or less to complete.

2. Focus on one thing at a time

Keep the big picture in mind, but keep your workload light and only focus on one small task at a time. When you commit your attention to one element at a time, you are gradually making your way towards the larger goal.

3. Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements

Since we are inclined to seek out things that bring us pleasure, small rewards can go a long way to help to satisfy our need for pleasure and positivity.  Rewards give you small goals to work towards, which will help to keep you motivated. Even if you aren’t able to physically reward yourself, still celebrate the progress you’ve made along the way.

Celebrate the completion of each small step to encourage morale. Keep up momentum throughout the entire project, and tiny celebrations will help you to do just that. Expecting to see results of the task at hand immediately is unrealistic. Accomplishments are measured by the differences you have made along the way, not the end result.

Imagine holding an event at work.  You must find a venue, caterer, and entertainment.  You also need to come up with a theme, and decorate the venue and table settings.  This is a huge project.  Break it down into smaller parts.  For example, maybe focus on deciding on a theme first.

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When you’ve completed that, give yourself a small break as a reward before moving on to the next part.  One thing at a time and reward yourself to stay motivated.  Then the big project will not overwhelm you.

4. Don’t be too hard on yourself

If you have a long history of procrastination, you should stop beating yourself about it. Accepting yourself the way you are can go a long way in eliminating negative self-talk, thus reducing the chances of procrastination.

Start paying attention to the way you talk to yourself. Instead of using phrases such as “have to” or “need to”, consider saying, “I get to” or “I choose to”. Taking ownership of your goals and work will make you feel in control of your life. Keep in mind that behind every word, there’s a thought. And thoughts are things.

5. Eliminate distractions

Distractions are among the biggest killers of productivity. And the leading cause of procrastination. Most people have gotten used to distractions in their environment that they actively look for small and large disruptions during the workday.

You can set yourself up for success by taking the time to identify key distractions and avoid them. For instance, if a family member or friend is always texting or calling you during the workday, you should consider silencing your phone for a couple of hours.

If your computer is always popping email and social media notifications, consider turning the notifications off. Find a quiet place to work and block all kinds of distractions to get things done.

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6. Tackle things right now

When you keep postponing things, they will eventually pile up and overwhelm you. If you don’t want this to happen, try tackling your tasks at the moment. You can bundle up small tasks such as sending emails and making phone calls so that you can take care of them at a go.

Set an hour aside every day and commit to tackling small tasks so that they don’t stress you out in the long run. Setting clear goals and intentions every week will help you know exactly what is supposed to be done. Creating a schedule and having a clear plan is one of the best ways to deal with procrastination.

7. Say No to reduce your workload

Most frequent procrastinators say yes to almost everything. Saying yes to everything will make you spread yourself too thin. And you’ll end up pushing things off. To have more time for your most important tasks at work, yourself, and your loved ones, you need to learn to say no. Say no to tasks and projects that don’t align with your goals. If you have to do everything, consider delegating a couple of tasks to a capable team so that you can find time to plan, work and relax.

8. Promise someone you respect

Most of the time, you make promises to yourself but you end up breaking them. You can avoid this by promising someone you respect that you’ll complete your tasks at a specified time. When you promise someone you respect, they’ll hold you accountable for the tasks that you procrastinate on.

9. Identify activities that make you productive

Do you need to create an outline before you start working? Is there a song that inspires you to take the next step? Do you generate brilliant ideas after taking an afternoon nap? You need to find out the practices that boost your productivity and integrate them into your schedule. Working on tasks that you are passionate about can help you feel more positive and energized.

10. Try mindfulness techniques

Chronic procrastinators usually experience increased stress and anxiety. To address anxious thoughts and healthily reframe them, you should try mindfulness techniques such as meditation. It’s one of the best ways to calm your mind and work with intention.

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Dealing with dreadful tasks

What if no matter how small or big the task is, it’s still dreadful?  No job is perfect. You will always at some point find yourself faced with tedious and uninteresting tasks that you must complete. Sometimes you just need to suck it up and push through.

To stay motivated, plan to complete positive tasks along with the negative ones.  This will regulate your emotions, and ensure that you don’t only do the things that you “feel like” doing.  Always remember to keep your eye on the big picture, which will give meaning to all of your tasks (even the tedious ones).

When you alter your attitude towards your obligations, it will make the tasks seem less tedious.  It takes a lot of practice and reinforcement, but eventually it will change your work ethic.

Bottom Line

Numerous research studies suggest that procrastination is a problem of managing emotions. However, most people think that it’s a time management issue. Poor time management is but a symptom of the problem; not the problem itself.

Emotions influence how people feel. And this affects how they behave. People procrastinate for a wide range of reasons such as frustration, fear of failure, anxiety, and self-doubt. By putting the tips that we’ve discussed into practical use, you’ll gradually gain control over your emotions, thoughts, and life.

Learn more tips about how to stop procrastinating: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

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Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on September 9, 2021

15 Easy Ways to Avoid Procrastination When Working from Home

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15 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.

Examples of Procrastination When Working from Home

Well, people who prefer working from home believe is a way of spending more time with family and escape the hell of having a boss breathing down their neck. However, what happens when you find yourself flipping from site to site, one YouTube video to another, changing your music, and watching countless movies that end up wasting hours of your time and affecting your productivity level.

Procrastination is a major cause of concern for everyone who works from home as they find themselves pushing deadlines backward. Learning to “eat that frog” isn’t easy after all. Getting stuck in that circle might cost the individual their job.

However, there are ways to solve procrastinating when you work from home. The solution starts with knowing why you procrastinate in the first place and we’ve outlined some of reasons in this guide.

Why do People Procrastinate While Working

No Clear Goal

A wise man once said – ” Procrastination is the grave in which opportunities are buried”. We couldn’t agree less but sometimes procrastination goes beyond self-control and willpower. Experts have proposed that one of the reasons people procrastinate is when there’s no clear goal in mind.

Trying to Move Mountains

People are likely to focus more when they have concrete goals in mind. For instance, it’s easier to procrastinate when we set goals such as “I want to write a book” or “I want to earn more money”. Having realistic options such as “I want to make $100k in August” or “I want to write 1000 words daily for the next 30 days” forces us to take actionable steps to make that a reality

No Shortage of Time

There are other reasons people are likely to procrastinate when they work for home and a few of these people have clear goals. And it happens when we feel there’s enough time to complete the task. For example, it’s easier to put off a task whose deadline is in a month than those that have to be submitted in a week.

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Accordingly, such people always have a thought of “I have enough time” hence they never get started. The problem with this approach is that the deadline slowly creeps in and they suddenly realize that they haven’t gotten started.

This is more reason why it’s better to handle tasks as they come rather than waiting till you’re motivated to take action.

Dangers of Procrastination at Work

Unfortunately, the habit of procrastination doesn’t go unpunished. You could have more tasks piled up which results in stress. This could have been avoided if the tasks were attended to as soon as they came.

Most bosses have labelled freelancers who procrastinate as “incompetent” which results in job loss and a long time search in finding a new one. If you own an online business, procrastination might affect your profit and a lot of opportunities pass by due to your inability to act immediately.

If you want to take control of your time, the tips mentioned here will help you do so. You will begin to priorities your goals more and act accordingly. Let’s jump right in

15 Easy Ways to Avoid Procrastination When Working From Home

1. Create Daily Goals

A survey conducted reported that people who set daily goals are likely to be more productive than those who don’t. For instance, rather than taking each day as it comes, it pays to write down the task you want to accomplish the minute you rise from bed.

There are several benefits of doing this. First, it’s registered in the brain and secondly, you will be willing to push yourself to achieve what you’ve written down on paper.

2. Break Tasks into Tiny Bits

Taking things one step at a time reduces procrastination. For instance, if you dream of writing 10,000 words eBook, putting down 1,000 pieces of words on paper for the next 10 days will bring the book to life. When you do this daily, you realize that the task doesn’t feel overwhelming and you can break free from procrastination.

3. Take Breaks in Between Tasks

Breaks are a way to keep you energized. It’s difficult to work 10 hours daily on a stretch without feeling overwhelmed. Breaks allow your brain to refresh and come back stronger. If you plan on working for 6 hours daily, it pays to take a short break after every 3 hours interval.

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There are times when a break can improve the quality of your thinking and speeds up the creative process.

4. 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.

5. 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 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.

6. 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.

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7. Stop Comparing Your Results

Most often, when people work from home, it’s easy to compare your result to others. When your results don’t match up, it’s easy to feel disappointed and put off a lot of work. This is very common in sales.

Well, if you suffer from this, it’s important to appreciate every little step you take daily and stop beating yourself over other people’s results. This will limit your ability to get things done.

8. Read Books on Time Management

When you feel like every second is slipping away, it pays to read books on time management and habit formation. Books such as eat that frog, atomic habits, and the 5-seconds rule will arm you with strategies on how to eliminate procrastination and live a productive lifestyle. If those options feel out of reach, we have a number of useful tips that will help you with goal setting.

All the books were hand-picked because they contain actionable plans that can transform your life by a whole 360. The most successful people read 20 pages of a book daily and you can also do the same.

9. Turn off Social Media Notification

If you are like most people, a little beep sound from your smartphone can catch your attention and force you to look at notifications. When you set out to work, ensure your smartphone is set to “do not disturb” mode so those distracting beeps don’t steal your attention when you’re engrossed in your task.

Even better, you can keep your cell phone distances away when you’re working

10. Block out Nearby Noise

The notification sound from your mobile phone isn’t the only distraction to fight against. Distraction might come in the form of noises such as traffic sounds, the sound of running water, or loud laughter from your living room.

You can block out this noise by using noise-cancellation earbuds or cell phones.

11. Learn to Eat Your Frog

The first few hours you rise from bed are your “hour of power”. It’s easier to get things done during the early hours of the day. As we’ve found out, the hardest tasks are the most difficult to get started with.

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During your ” hour of power” ensure you address the difficult tasks first before moving to the simplest ones.

12. Learn to Forgive Yourself

It’s difficult to let go of the hurts and pain the habit of procrastination has caused. Do not expect perfection from yourself, rather try to be a better version of yourself.

13. Reward Yourself

Reward and punishment is an essential part of human psychology when it comes to motivation.[3] 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.

14. Avoid Multi-Tasking

Doing several things at the same time might result to a shift in attention. Hence, learn to finish up one task before jumping to another

15. Apply Consistency

Making positive changes is difficult, there’s always a temptation to go back to the old way things were done. It’s important to employ these tips for several days to see how it changes your productivity level. We recommend sticking to this routine for at least 30 days, to stand a chance of killing off procrastination

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.

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Featured photo credit: Progressive Insurance via unsplash.com

Reference

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