Avoiding Work-From-Home Procrastination

By Max Denis · Apr 19, 2021

While the pandemic has shut down communal offices, for most companies, the show must go on. Yet remote working has a number of pitfalls that are increasingly affecting workers’ productivity.

Procrastination affects everyone from students revising for exams to CEOs making business deals. It becomes even harder to resist when the home environment becomes the workspace. Working from home blurs the lines between leisure and work – making it harder to switch-on and also harder to switch-off.

Here are 5 top tips for managing procrastination behaviours while working from home.

1.     Managing Distractions

Simply being in the home environment draws your mind away from work to alternative enjoyable experiences, inhibiting productivity.

Designing your environment is a quick and simple solution to remove unnecessary temptations that foster procrastination.

A. If you have a desk: remove the clutter – a tidy desk equals a tidy mind.

B. If you find yourself reaching for your phone: take that phone into a different room (preferably far away so you’re less likely to travel for it).

C. Keep things simple: the less visual stimuli you have around, the less likely your mind will be drawn to associated thoughts. Minimalism rocks.

2.     The Power of the Checklist

We struggle to remember phone numbers, names of new people and even wedding anniversaries. Research shows that medical professionals too suffer from the limitations of our memory capacity. A simple checklist can help: when standardised checklists were put in place for surgery operations, the rate of deaths due to surgical complications halved.

You too can utilise the power of the checklist. Not only does this prevent simple forgetting mistakes but checking things off of a checklist produces a rewarding feeling. As the work becomes more rewarding, attitudes towards working will change and, eventually, procrastination will have less of an effect.

3.     Timetabled Office Hours

When at home it’s easy to become consumed by work; there is no defined start time and no regular clocking off, making work seem like it never ends. Because of this, the idea of starting work becomes unattractive, encouraging procrastination.

The simple solution is to set a rigid working window that you promise to stick to. This gives the day structure; it gives you a time to meet in the morning as well as something to work towards. We enjoy reliable and consistent commitments in our lives. Creating a working structure makes work feel like work, and importantly makes play feel like play.

4.     Quality (not quantity) down-time

As mentioned above, working from home can feel all-consuming with no start and no end. Making time to relax and doing the things you truly enjoy will improve your productivity, mental health and ability to resist procrastination. Focusing solely on work, leaving little time to relax is a one-way train to burnout. Giving time for your mind to rest and wonder is a fundamental long-term solution to procrastination.

5.     Embracing Your Inner Procrastinator

Even if you implement all these tips, you might still struggle to overcome procrastination. It’s important not to push those feelings down and force yourself to work because the quality of your work will suffer. Engaging with procrastination might allow you to recognise underlying sources of stress and anxiety which are putting you off working. Taking time to introspect why you are procrastinating might be the best way to solve it.

These quick fixes can help lay a path to a healthy-work life balance which maximises productivity and well-being. But, until all businesses can return to offices, workers must be wary of the dangers of procrastination. Understanding procrastination can help self-implemented interventions work wonders.