How to avoid procrastinating when working from home

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A common concern I hear from people who work from home is that it’s easy to procrastinate and be less productive than when you work in an office surrounded by other people. “Working from home” often turns into sitting around in your pajamas all day while the hours slip by.

The fact is, when you work from home you have to create your own structure. Getting things done on your own requires discipline.

Here are some ways to get yourself into work mode, and stay there.

Start your work day off right:

One of the great things about working from home is you have no commuting time. But for some people, their commute is their transition from their home environment to their work environment. Without this transition through time and space, it can be hard to get into gear for work.

First of all, get dressed. You don’t have to dress as formally as you would if you were going into the office. But do wear real daytime clothes. Imagine if someone came to the door, or you had to run out for an errand. Dress accordingly.

Create a morning routine that serves as your transition from home-mode to work-mode. Have your coffee, listen to some music, meditate, read the news. Limit this transition time to no more than 30 minutes. After that, you are in work mode.

Stay focused:

Create a work space for yourself. Whatever you do, absolutely do not try to work in or on your bed. Your bed smells like sleeping; you will not get any work done there. Set up a desk, temporary table, or other work space. When you sit there, you are at work.

Eliminate distractions. Don’t think about house chores during work time. Remove non-work related clutter from your work area. Turn off notifications on your phone.

Focus during work time. Here’s where you get down to it. Create focused work time for yourself. Do time blocking in your planner so you know what you are supposed to be working on and when. Use a timer to help you focus for a certain period of time. (Check out the Pomodoro Technique.)

Hold yourself accountable:

In order to get your work done in a timely manner, you have to assign urgency to your tasks. Otherwise tomorrow’s to do list will look suspiciously like today’s to do list, and yesterday’s.

Make a list of things that MUST be done today. Do the highest priority tasks first, and don’t give yourself the option to back out of them. They must be done. Check the tasks off your list as you complete them.

Create deadlines for yourself. Assign Done By times or dates to your tasks.

Create work hours for yourself, if your company does not already assign them. This is a great way to keep the day from slipping by entirely. If you have all day to do something, it will take all day to do it. If you know you only have X number of working hours today, you will work harder to get your work done within the designated time.

See more tips on working from home here and here.

What are your tips for working from home?

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