Working from home and by yourself requires a lots of discipline. Here are some tips to beat procrastination.
01 Tackle less favourite tasks first in the morning
02 Work in chunks: use the Pomodoro technique
03 If you need the internet for your work, keep only one tab open
04 Keep minimum applications open, focus on one task: close the apps which generate alerts (mobile phone, emails)
05 Planning end time is as important as planning start time
06 Interleave working periods (concentration mode) and break: sport or cleaning tasks in between will help your mind to be creative
Have lots to do
Everyone is different but I have come to realise that I need to have lots of things to do in order to be disciplined and to concentrate on my work. If that is not the case, it is too easy to postpone it to later.
If I have too much work, of course I stress, and that can have the opposite wanted effect: I don't know where to start. In that case, I just start planning and write the smallest action I can do to get the project or task started.
This works very well for me. Most of my work consists of writing documents or executing test cases. Finding a similar existing document or template, renaming it, changing small things like title, header, footer gets me effortless into the task. Similarly for other tasks, just start with the simplest, easiest part. For more inspiration, read the following 'A journey of 1000 miles begins with a tangible next action' article.
Enjoy the process
Concentrate on the process, not the end result or the deadline. When concentrating on the end result, it activates pain center of the brain and this is why we do other activities to relief the pain. This does not happen when we concentrate on the process: we go into a flow, we don't stress about progress made or if the product will be ready on time. It might also be easier to let the interruptions go by.
Do important tasks first
As long as all tasks require the same context, prioritize them by deadline, difficulty, complexity. Doing tasks that are less urgent first is a form of procastination, even if it gives you the impression you are still being productive. Finishing important tasks first will give you a sense of accomplishment which will help you concentrate on the next task.
Close other programs or other browser tabs
When you swap between programs or get into another internet tab, it is too tempting to change tasks.
Someday, you really don't feel like doing the work. The Pomodoro Technique works for me on those days. By forcing myself to work 25 minutes without interruption, then having a break as a reward, I slowly manage to get work done. I use the following iPhone application as my pomodoro timer - just a recommendation as I like the simple graphism and design, and only one reminder when a period is completed, no affiliation.
You might be avoiding the task or worrying too much about the complexity, difficulty of the task. By being mindful, you can realise where your mind has taken you and bring it back to the task. Just focus on one small step, task by task, moment by moment.
Recently I moved my desk to a quieter space which overlooks trees. Being surrounded by calm and nature has changed my clue and helped me to be more focus. Somedays I have to go to the office and I noticed that although I spent more hours in a day there, I get less done due to the social interactions (which are very important too, don't get me wrong). So I have become more philosophical about "only" doing 5-6 hours when I work from home because I have realised more get done in these "working from home" hours - unfortunately I get paid by hour, which is another story.
Food for thought
- How to stop procrastinating by using the 2 min rule by James Clear
- Short film Procrastination by Johnny Kelly
- Recently I read that self-discipline is a better predictor of success than IQ
Some of these tips come from the following free online courses: