How to Avoid Distractions When Working From Home
If procrastination is the arch enemy of remote work, then this article is the antidote.
This post will throw a few handy anti-procrastination hints your way. You’re welcome to use them to improve your remote working productivity levels OR you can just procrastinate for 5 minutes by reading an article on procrastination…
Oh, the irony.
Always do the rubbish stuff first
No excuses! Face it, if you don’t want to do it at 9:20 after 2 coffees and a bowl of Readybrek, chances are, you’re not going to fancy it at 5:15 when you’re contending with a storm-force-9 screen headache and sloth-worthy levels of productivity.
Always do the thing you’re looking forward to the least at the start of the day. Forget the emails for an hour; if an unpleasant task was playing on your mind the night before, take that as an indicator that it needs to be the first thing you get out of the way.
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Set aside 9-10 am as your hour of apprehension; send the email you’ve been dreading, make that call to the narky client, plan out the article you’ve been anxious about writing. Getting some of this stuff ticked off will drive you to really crack on with the tasks you enjoy/tolerate. If you just went ahead and did the fun stuff first (I use this term loosely) those unfavourable tasks would carry on niggling away at the back of your mind all day. ALL.DAY.
Just write something…anything
Just like it’s always easier to critique the suggestions of others than it is to come up with a groundbreaking idea of your own, the same applies to your own work. It’s a helluva lot easier to edit and improve upon a terribly written sentence than it is to break the back of a judgmental blank white page. The best way to make gains in your work, especially when writing, is to get started and then draft, draft and draft again.
Set goals (and rewards)
This may sound like the sort of advice you’d hear on an episode of Supernanny, BUT setting small goals and subsequent rewards is such an effective way of powering through a bunch of tasks. It’s amazing what the promise of a cuppa and a chocolate digestive will do for one’s productivity. If you don’t set goals and time frames to work to, it’s all too easy to get sidetracked and find yourself 10 minutes deep into a blog post on fly-fishing (we’ve all been there). Plan to reply to 5 client emails and then reward yourself with a little trip to the biscuit tin/fruit-bowl. Willpower permitting, of course.
It pays to break your day up into chunks. Have a last push leading up to your lunch by penning a mini POA for when you come back at 2pm armed with your sandwich and 3rd coffee. The pre-conceived plan will mean you can sit down and get straight back down to business, minus the usual post-lunch faff.
If you are yearning to read more about achieving wonders through goals then cast your eye over some of Leo Babauta’s musings. His site Zen Habits is a top-notch resource for learning how to increase your productivity.
Put everything on your to-do list
And I mean everything. Nothing gives you a mini work thrill like ticking things off your to-do list.
Writing down the overall task can feel overwhelming even for the best of us and being overwhelmed naturally goes hand in hand with putting things off and seeking alternative tasks, AKA the dreaded procrastination. Write down the task as several small steps which can be ticked off as you go. Each one will feel like a mini ‘win’ and will inspire you to get cracking with the next one.
Positive mental attitude
This one sounds a bit ‘new-age’ so bear with me. Whenever you find your inner distraction monster rearing its unwelcome head, try actually taking a second to imagine how you’re going to feel if you step away from whatever Buzzfeed quiz you happen to be embarking on and, instead, have a really blummin’ productive afternoon. Just picture how much you’ll enjoy your evening knowing you’ve achieved everything you set out to do that morning. Your imagined sense of achievement should instantly give you the kick up the arse you need to put the sudoku down and DO SOME WORK.
Zone out the noise
If you choose to frequent coffee shops as part of your remote working schedule then you may need to invest in some noise cancelling headphones to zone out from background chatter, milk steamers and children’s laughter (time and a place).
“But what should I listen to through my noise cancelling headphones” I hear you cry…!
Choose music without words. Music is amazing at getting you ‘in the zone’ oo err. However, if, like me you subconsciously find yourself warbling along to Madonna’s Immaculate Collection then go for something ‘un-sing-a-long-able’. Spotify have whole instrumental playlists specifically designed to work to. Classical music is a strong choice, but if Mozart doesn’t float your boat then get your ears round someone like Bonobo, beautifully crafted, heavily instrumental sounds that will have you in the ‘work zone’ before you can spell out procrastination. Cheers, spell check.