Strategy

How to beat procrastination while wfh, from 10 experts

“I can focus on anything for 15 minutes at a time, and it helps break through the fears and anxieties.”

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Whether you’re experienced at working from home or new to it, there are moments where you’ll find yourself procrastinating. That’s OK! But to stop it from becoming a problem, there are some simple things you can do.

First, create a workspace in your home that’ll ease you into work mode. Next, remove things that will distract you, such as the TV and smartphone, and keep your desk organized. For further tips on beating procrastination while working from home, check out these 10 strategies:

10. Create deadlines

“I am self-employed, which means that I am in charge of my own schedule,” says Sherry Andrew, a financial coach and owner of Money Mindset Financial Coaching. “While this offers many positives, one of the negatives is that most of my tasks don't actually have deadlines. To impose deadlines on myself, I commit publicly to doing something by announcing a commitment on social media or to an accountability buddy.”

9. Compile major tasks for the week

“I used to list the tasks I absolutely needed to do in a single day. However, I found this was too narrowly focused to keep me motivated,” says Jay Allen of UJ Media Services. “So now, I like to list out the major tasks I know I need to complete in a week. This gives me what in programming we call a burndown chart — I know I need to complete enough tasks per day (burn them down) in order to stay on track. When I see that tasks aren't burning down quickly enough to keep me on schedule, it motivates me to pick up the pace!”

8. Do simple, fun things

“One big thing I need while working from home is something to look forward to that will break up the day,” says online marketer Maria Grace. “Each morning when I start working, I loosely schedule one to two things along those lines. Examples are drinking my favorite beverage, going on a walk or run, taking 15 minutes to read a good book, or even watching funny videos on YouTube for a little bit. It doesn't have to be extravagant — just fun, simple, and do-able!”

7. Time block

“Time block important tasks on your calendar so you treat them like meetings,” says Lauren Torregrossa, media relations manager for CareerPlug. “You wouldn't want to miss a meeting with your boss or a client. Apply that same mindset by setting meeting times with yourself. I am less likely to push things aside when I give myself a specific timeframe to complete a task. I also find that I not only get more done by applying this strategy, I get things done faster.”

6. Attack tough things first

“In order to avoid procrastinating while working from home, I use the same technique that I employ at the office. I always do the tough things first,” says Ray Zinn, co-founder and CEO of Micrel Semiconductor and founder of Tough Things First. “When you do the tough things first every day, everything else falls into place and your day opens up with easier tasks on the horizon. Doing the tough things first also develops discipline that you can build on each and every day.”

“I can focus on anything for 15 minutes at a time, and it helps break through the fears and anxieties.”

5. Commit to 5 minutes

“The reason why we procrastinate is because we know the task is going to take a long time, so we find it hard to commit to that,” says Willie Greer, founder of The Product Analyst. “Especially when we're at home, it's easy to get distracted by comforting things like the bed, couch, and coffee maker. To beat this, commit to doing your work task for five minutes. It wouldn't appear to be a burden, but once you start it, you're suddenly in the zone and the momentum will push you to continue and eventually finish what you started.”

4. Try the Pomodoro method

“On days when I'm badly procrastinating and can't seem to even start a task, I like to use a modified version of the Pomodoro method,” says Jennifer Walden, director of operations of WikiLawn. “The standard Pomodoro is 25 minutes of focusing on one task, then a five-minute break. Repeat for four 25-minute blocks, then take a longer break. If I'm really struggling, I'll usually lower that to 15/5, with a longer break after two total hours of work. I've found I can focus on anything for 15 minutes at a time, and it helps break through the fears and anxieties that cause me to procrastinate.”

3. Time your breaks

“When you're working at home, a five-minute break can easily turn into two hours without even noticing,” says R.J. Weiss, founder of The Ways to Wealth. “As such, I've made it a habit to set a timer every time I leave my desk. The timer may last five minutes, or for lunch, I'll set it to 45. Avoiding these long breaks is one of the best things I've done for my productivity.”

2. Have a co-worker pressure you

“It turns out that peer pressure actually works pretty well as a means to beat procrastination,” says David Reischer, attorney and CEO of LegalAdvice.com. “I always ask my business partner to check up on my progress and I do the same for him. The work always seems to get completed much faster if we both stay on top of each other in a competitive but good-spirited way.”

1. Practice mindfulness

“We cannot be effective when our thoughts or worries about what must happen in the future prevent us from remaining in the present moment,” says DeAnna Crosby, family therapist and clinical director at New Method Wellness. “The practice of mindfulness enables us to become grounded in the moment, gain awareness of our surroundings, and get in touch with our senses. Step outside for a 15-minute walk and allow yourself to see the trees, feel the weather on your face, and absorb the aromas around you. When your mind wanders, allow yourself to drift back into the present where your senses are awake and aware. Practicing mindfulness allows you to remain in the present moment, which is the only space you can be effective.”

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