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How To Fight Procrastination When Working From Home

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Do you have tasks queueing up in your workstream which you just can’t seem to get through? Even if you’re usually great at staying organised, when you’re going through a busy period at work, it’s easy enough to let everything slip and to bury your head in the sand by procrastinating and putting off less desirable tasks. When we work from home, the pull to procrastinate is even stronger.

But, do procrastination & home working go hand-in-hand? In short – it really depends on your circumstances. Many of us will have become familiar with working from home over 2020/21 when most of the world were forced out of the office during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, not everyone has a home office, and found themselves working from the kitchen table, or even from their beds. This was usually alongside other family members, partners and children who were completing schoolwork online. When you’re forced to work in less-than-ideal conditions such as this, it can become a real struggle to get past procrastination.

In ‘normal’ times, a study found that working from home can increase productivity by up to 77%[i]. So, assuming that you have a good working environment with minimal distractions, procrastination is an issue that you can overcome. If you have a difficult time working outside the office, read on to discover the best ways to fight procrastination whilst working from home.

1) Identify the source of your procrastination

Before you squash your procrastination, you need to figure out what it is that distracts you from your work in the first place. For example, watching TV, browsing the web, checking social media, tidying up (again!), scrolling through TikTok, making yet more cups of teas all contribute to wasting precious time – around 2 hours and 10 minutes, to be precise[ii]. Imagine how much work you could get done if you utilised this time properly.

2) Define & prepare a workspace

Home office

Working from your bed or the sofa might seem comfy, but by not having an allocated work area, you are more prone to being distracted by your environment. If possible, you need a separate room where you can close the door and create a physical boundary between your home life, and your work life. Aside from your PC or laptop, as a minimum, your home workspace should have:

  • A desk – or another flat work surface
  • An ergonomic chair – if you’re short on space, consider an office tub chair instead of a full office chair
  • Good lighting – this will reduce eye strain and keep your brain awake
  • Organisation – desk tidies, pen pots and folders are all a necessity
  • Stationary – keep notebooks, pens, highlighters and a calculator on hand

3) Get up, dressed, and ready to work

As attractive as the notion of working in your pyjamas sounds, it won’t help your productivity levels. All you’ll be able to think about for the rest of the day is getting back into bed.

If you struggle to stay awake during your home working day, the key to success is getting ready as if you’re going to leave the house. Get up at a sensible time, have a shower, put ‘real’ clothes on (say goodbye to your hoodies and joggers), make yourself a good breakfast and relax for a while before you start working.

Spend the time you would usually spend commuting reading a book, catching up on the news, or on a hobby. This is a gentler way to wake your brain up than jumping straight from waking up to emailing clients in the space of 5 minutes. It will ease you into a productive mindset and put you in a good mood.

4) Plan your schedule

schedule

So many people have a romantic notion about working from home. You can get up when you want, waft through the house, work when you feel like… or can you? The likelihood is that you WILL work just as hard at home with the same time pressures and challenges as you would at a desk in an office. You just need to have the right mindset and a definitive plan on how your day is going to go. At the start of every day:

  • Note down the tasks you need to complete
  • Start with the important or more complex tasks first when your concentration levels are at their peak
  • Not looking forward to a task? Get that out of the way first so you have a sense of accomplishment
  • If you have a project management system, update this religiously and use it to organise your week
  • Use a tool like Toggl to time how long it takes you to complete your tasks. This will give you a better idea of how much you should be able to get done in a day.

Remember that even though you aren’t in an office, deadlines still need to be met and clients communicated with and kept happy. You do have more freedom to work when it suits you but a too-lax attitude about work hours can lead you down a dangerous path.

5) Take breaks – set boundaries

You shouldn’t work for hours and hours on end without a break because this simply depletes productivity. Take the same breaks you would take when working in an office, and physically move away from your workspace. Use your time to eat, relax and switch off your brain. Message your colleagues to let them know you won’t be reachable for your lunch hour and put your phone on silent.

As well as taking time off for lunch, make sure to step away from your computer every couple of hours to make a drink, stretch, and have a break from staring at your screen.

It’s easy for people to overstep your personal boundaries when working from home, as they know you can easily access work files and emails. It’s not unheard of to have colleagues picking up the phone way past working hours to ask a question. This is fine as a one off, but if it happens regularly, have a polite word with them and remind them of your working hours. If they still persist, it may be worth speaking to HR or your line manager.

 

6) Get out of the house

walking

Working from home can quickly turn into a nightmare of isolation and boredom if you are constantly looking at the same walls, day in, day out. Staying inside for too long can be extremely detrimental to your health.

Physical Impacts

  • Bad posture. Staying inside and sat down for too long can put pressure on your spine, leading to back pain and a bad posture[iii].
  • Weakened immune system. When you aren’t exposed to certain bacteria and viruses, your body doesn’t build up immunity. This means that when you are exposed to them, you’re more likely to become ill.
  • Poor sleeping pattern. Because you aren’t doing anything to tire yourself out and use up any energy, you’re less likely to sleep well. A lack of natural light can also mess with your sleeping pattern.

 

Mental Impacts

  • Depression & irritability. When you stay inside, have no change of scenery, and get no exercise, you will become depressed and irritable.
  • Loneliness. Feeling lonely and isolated is almost inevitable when you never leave the house.
  • Anxiety. The longer you spend indoors, the harder it will be to go outside. Anxiety around leaving the house and interacting with others can develop quickly, especially if you live alone.

Ensure you make plans with friends and family after work a few days a week, and at the very least, go for a short walk once you’ve clocked off. This will let you stretch your legs and wind-down after a long day.

 


Sources

[i] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/technology/pages/teleworkers-more-productive-even-when-sick.aspx

[ii] https://www.humanresourcesonline.net/how-much-time-are-your-employees-spending-procrastinating

[iii] www.walkinlab.com/blog/cope-negative-health-impacts-staying-indoors/

Anna Sharples

Office and marketing manager for Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs, who sell a range of high-quality tub chairs, accent chairs and more.

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