The constant battle: avoid procrastination.
I don't know about you, but I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to getting my work done. Especially when I work from home it is really difficult to avoid procrastination. This depends a lot on the time of day, but here are a few things I can find myself doing instead of getting my work done:
-Reading promotional emails
-Sharing new articles with friends
-Playing video games
-Untangling headphone cords -Clicking on "click the "I'm not a headset" links
-Clicking on "as seen now" links
-Looking out the window
And that's to name just a few. The list is endless..
It's not always your fault, but as a freelancer we need to give ourselves a break.
The modern world has a lot to answer for, with all its pop-up ads, social media notifications and Amazon deliveries. However, being able to identify and avoid procrastination can make a huge difference to your productivity, and let's face it, your reputation and your bottom line. Because if you work on deadlines and that impress your clients, then every minute of the work day counts to maximize efficiency and deliver projects on time.
Here are 3 tips to help you win the fight against distraction and procrastination:
1- "By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail" - Benjamin Franklin.
You've probably already heard this valuable quote, and it can be relevant in many different contexts. As serious as it may seem (as serious as it may seem), this rings true for me as far as my daily planning is concerned.
If I sit down at my computer and don't write a good list of things to do the day before, I risk (could) wasting time and energy trying to decide my priorities.
It's procrastination time. Suddenly, watching a compilation of "baked pot roast" videos or reading the Jamaican bobsleigh team's Wikipedia page seems much more appealing than concentrating on the work that needs to be done.
On the contrary, if I sit down at my desk and there is a list waiting for me, drafted the day before in order of priority, I am ready to start my work. I know exactly what I have to do and where to start. This saves me many precious minutes first thing in the morning and keeps me from checking the news or social media.
The to-do list tells me what to do immediately, but it also makes me feel like I'm on top of everything. A bit like a controlled emergency as opposed to a distant fear. An organized daily list with ten or so key tasks will get you off task easily in the morning and help keep procrastination at bay.
2- Tidy screen, clear mind
There is certainly a direct correlation between how many different internet browser tabs or email windows I have open and how productive or unproductive I am. For many among you who also spend a lot of your work time looking at computer screens, closing all these tabs and windows that are not useful for the task at hand will help you concentrate. A lot.
You will need to respond to some of these emails, no doubt, and perhaps a few hours later, it will allow you to visit some social networks or do some internet research. In this case, the to-do list saves the day once again.
How far down your list are you? What high priority tasks have you not yet accomplished? If you can maintain a level of discipline and apply it with a touch of toughness when deciding which tabs you need to keep open during your work, you will receive the rewards at the end of the day.
3- Drown out the noise
Some scientific research suggests that listening to music can reduce stress levels, lower your heart rate and improve your concentration. Putting on some music certainly helps me keep my head in my work. My preference is to listen to music t
hat I know by heart, because it doesn't hold my attention which allows me to concentrate on the job at hand. However, for some people the opposite may be true. When listening to their favorite music they may find themselves singing along and tapping along. If that is the case for you, perhaps you should listen to all or some of the following:
-Instrumental music (e.g., classical).
-Environmental noises (e.g.: waves)
-Whale noise (e.g., whale)
Drowning out noisy distractions, or in certain cases, eerie silences, can often help ward off distraction and the temptation to procrastinate by granting you periods of uninterrupted concentration. Just be careful not to tangle the headphone cord.
Working as a freelancer, controlling your workload can be very difficult, and although you will already have your own techniques for dealing with procrastination when it shows its ugliness, why not try some of these methods and see what improvements you can make?
This article was written by Joe Ogden.
Joe is a professional copywriter and marketer with a background in business development and technology sales. He is passionate about helping entrepreneurs, freelancers and small businesses reach a larger audience and grow their business. For more information, visit Joe's website.