You just checked your calendar and saw that you have three deadlines today. You sigh and tell yourself that you will take a breather first. But instead of going back to work, you check your phone, you cuddle with your pet, and then get a cup of coffee. And before you know it, you just wasted an hour of doing something else other than what you ought to be doing.
You feel bad and ask yourself what's wrong. You are procrastinating, and it's a prevalent phenomenon. This study shows that procrastination comprises over a quarter of most people's working days, costing employers about $10,000 per employee per year.
What is procrastination?
It is defined as failing to regulate yourself. This is a major issue that must be tackled especially now that working from home seems to be the new norm. Since there is no boss or colleague to monitor your work, you should motivate yourself to finish things within an agreed timeframe.
It is an uphill battle. Adjusting to this new work setup can affect productivity but that does not mean that procrastination should be a part of the process.
You can overcome procrastination
Luckily for us, we can avoid procrastination if we really want to. It needs will power and then some, but it will be rewarding to finally get off the rut and start accomplishing things. Here are some tips that can help you to stay productive and program your mind and body to start working.
1. Have your own office -- Or if you don't have a room, having a table would do. It just needs to resemble a workstation where you can switch on the work mode in your brain. You can be clever and find inspiration from these creative workspaces or you can buy a sit-stand desk that you can position anywhere in your home. An ergonomic desk will help you to stay healthy as it allows you to alternate between sitting and standing. Additionally, it impedes the development of a sedentary lifestyle which takes a toll on mental and physical wellbeing.
2. Start your day right -- This means leaving the pajamas in the bedroom and wearing some light clothes that can be associated with working. And while you are having your coffee, you might as well do your daily schedule. List all your tasks -- both at work at home -- and rank them according to their importance so you don't feel overwhelmed.
3. Stay away from distractions -- It can be tempting to put on Netflix for background sound but don't do it. It can easily distract you. Instead, opt for calming and ambient music that will boost your focus. You can also message your colleagues on Slack or Messenger that you are working so they can expect a delay in reply. You can also try putting your phone on silent mode so you can concentrate on the task at hand. Those healthy boundaries will help you to finish your work faster and allow you to do more throughout the day.
4. Work for short bursts and then take a break -- There are just days when the mind refuses to focus. That's okay. Be kind to yourself. You can try the Pomodoro technique instead. Set an intense 25-minute work and reward yourself with 5 minutes of break. After four bursts of 25-minute work, you can take longer breaks.
The key is to push yourself to work so you don't end up with a pile of incomplete tasks at the end of the day.
Avoid cabin fever -- Sheltering in place can also be chilling and lonely especially if you are alone. Take some time to open the shades or go outside for a few minutes for a change of scenery. This can help ward off claustrophobia and boost your mood.
Stay grateful -- Author William Arthur Ward said, "Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings." If you stay in a space of gratitude, you will appreciate that you have a job to report to while others grapple with employment issues. This way, you can embrace your tasks and work with gusto.
Make it work
You might feel burdened with your work right now. And that's fine. It's tough to strike a balance when work and personal life blends under a single roof. It can be chaotic. Procrastination can be your body's way of coping with the changes. When you feel too overwhelmed, don't be too hard on yourself. You can always get back up and try again.