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Working from home: How to stay productive and avoid procrastination

Procrastination is the antithesis of productivity and most of us are guilty of it. Do you have enough self discipline to work from home?

Procrastination is the antithesis of productivity and most of us are guilty of it. Whether it’s just popping on Facebook for those five minutes that turn into an hour, or watching a few episodes of that box set you got last Christmas but haven’t wanted to watch until right now.

There’s no denying that the perks of working from home are great; with a 60 second commute to the sofa or the kitchen table, it comes with that added flexibility and freedom most of us desire.

But with the perks come the pitfalls.

Working without a traditional workspace or the conventional boundaries of set hours mean that it can be tempting to procrastinate.

The first ever in-depth report on the procrastination habits of the British public was released in 2014 by RateSetter, exploring how and why we procrastinate. It revealed that we, as Britons, spend approximately four hours a day delaying those things that we should be doing. The top five worst culprits are:

• Watching TV (60 mins)

• Browsing the internet (33 mins)

• Social media (25 mins)

• Tidying (25 mins)

• Personal grooming (19 mins)

• Making hot drinks (13 mins)

• Snacking (11 mins)

However, on a more serious note, the study also reveals that procrastination costs ‘businesses £76bn a year in lost revenue’ and it ‘also affects peace of mind at home’.

The report, based on a YouGov survey of 2000 adults, calculated that the amount of time we spend ‘wasting our time’ is 218 minutes per day and equates to a whopping 55 days a year! The report also revealed that employees waste 43 minutes a day doing non-work related tasks.

So how can the average home based worker avoid the lure of distractions?

Get dressed

Your office can be wherever your laptop is, but you have to admit that staying in bed with your pyjamas on isn’t the best way to start your working day.

Now we’re not saying you need to don your best suit / dress, but it has been proven that ditching the PJ’s or tracksuit bottoms does have a positive impact on your work. You can always put them back on when you’ve finished working – just see it as another way to set the boundaries between relaxing and working.

Define your space

It has been proven that setting aside a particular space for working has a positive impact on productivity.

Defining your ‘home office space’ can promote concentration and creativity – which could simply involve clearing the kitchen table or designating one room of the house / flat, away from anything that could vie for your attention (children, dog, television etc.).

Set a schedule

Without the confines of a 9-5 work day, the more relaxed work-from-home schedule can also mean that the boundaries of personal and professional life become merged.

Entrepreneurs and authors of Remote: Office Not Required Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson believe that dividing up the working day into sessions is an extremely useful tactic.

They suggest a ‘catch up’ session where you can get your emails out of the way, a ‘collaboration’ session where you can talk to co-workers about projects and a ‘serious work’ time where you set about tackling the most difficult tasks of the day.

By keeping a good level of consistency to your daily schedule, it makes it easier to maintain more distinction between the professional and personal.

Separate work and play

Eliminate those distractions. If you have a work phone or laptop, it’s simple: use them! If business is mixed with personal contact it can be too tempting to chat.

Humans are social by nature, so don’t isolate yourself completely. An advantage of an office environment is the interaction that we get with other people.

Make the most of your instant messaging apps or collaborative working systems to make sure you stay in the loop with your colleagues.

Take a break

Don’t forget to take a break every now and again; over-working can be equally as problematic. The typical ‘I’ll just finish this off’ mind-set can result in an all-nighter or working into the small hours. Make sure you make time for yourself too.

Get out of the house

If the temptations become too much and you feel like you’re fighting off a little mid afternoon nap then switch locations.

The latest trend in the coffee shop industry is offering a workspace environment to their customers, specifically suited to freelancers and those who work from home.

Treat it like an informal office environment - the people around you don’t particularly care what you’re doing, but the very presence of busy humans going about their daily business can trick your mind into thinking that work is the only thing you should be doing.

Think of it like a personality test

Running a business from home can be the best form of personality test, enabling you to gauge how you react to distractions and how you cope under self-governance.

Do you have enough self-discipline to run a business from the comfort of your home?

Melanie Luff

About the author

Mel wrote for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other global industry publications.


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