If you want to successfully work at home, there’s a monster you must defeat. No, not the cute monster you call your child, at least not every time you want to work. I’m talking about the procrastination monster that gobbles up your work time in such insidious ways.
Defeating the procrastination monster when you work at home isn’t easy. It has many disguises. Some are almost irresistible.
Discover the Monster’s Lair
First, you must figure out where your monster comes from. What makes you procrastinate? There are many possibilities when you work at home.
Other adults can be the worst when you’re trying to work at home. They don’t always understand that it’s the same as working outside the home. You have to teach them to respect your schedule and needs.
Procrastination monsters love hanging around your children, and there’s only so much to be done at some ages about the procrastination children cause. You’re usually best off finding ways to work at times your kids are less likely to need your attention.
Social Media, Email, etc.
Procrastination monsters love your computer too, especially if you go to sites such as Facebook, Pinterest or anyplace where you can connect with friends or play games.
Whatever you do that leads to procrastination, do what you can to avoid it. You may not be able to entirely avoid the things that make you procrastinate. If you market on Facebook or Pinterest, for example, sometimes you will need to go on those sites, but need to find ways to keep your visits effective.
Think About Why You Want to Do What You Want to Do
It’s not enough to know what makes you procrastinate. You need to know why you want to work. What makes this important to you?
You work to earn money, for example, but that’s only the most obvious reason. Try to be more specific.
- Why do you need to earn money?
- Why this job or business?
- What do you like about the work you do?
- How badly does this need to get done?
- What happens if things don’t get done?
Plan to Defeat the Monster
The procrastination monster has difficulty interfering with a well planned day. Set goals, know what tasks you need to get done, and what times you do your best work. Commit to getting them done and avoiding the things that make procrastination easier than working. Make your goals something you can reach in a reasonable time as well as longer range goals. Daily goals have as much a place in your plans as annual goals.
Many people find it helpful to write their goals down. There’s something about checking things off a list that can be very motivating.
Get An Accountability Partner
Consider finding an accountability partner. It’s much harder for the procrastination monster to get you if you have a friend to help you keep on track. No one likes to say “I wasn’t productive today” to someone who really cares how well you did.
Your accountability partner doesn’t have to live with you. If you have an online friend who also works at home, you can motivate each other to be more productive.
You can have more than one accountability partner. In fact, if you have goals in different areas of your life, it can even make sense.
You might have one person who helps you keep accountable with your work life, for example, and another who encourages you to keep going to the gym or taking walks so you keep fit.
Close Extra Tabs And Programs
How many tabs do you really need open on your browser when you’re working?
It’s easy to have too many tabs open. Maybe you checked your email before working, and there’s something you’re watching for.
Don’t keep those extras open while you work. Whatever extra tabs or programs you have open when it’s time to start working, close them.
This especially includes anything that might distract you.
If you want to check your email or social media during your work hours, set a timer or alarm for when you will allow yourself to do so. Don’t just check these things on a whim – have a plan. They’ll interfere less with your productivity that way.
Get Rid Of Clutter
While your home office should be comfortable and decorated to please you, that doesn’t mean you can have all kinds of stuff all over your desk.
Get rid of the clutter!
Your home office desk should not be the place where you bring in the mail when it’s delivered. Your kids should not bring you the papers they need signed for school there. These will only make a mess of your desk and distract you from working.
Find a better place for these things and anything else that tends to clutter up your home office.
Work Your Best Hours When Possible
I’ll say this straight out – I am NOT a morning person. I often see people say to get up early to have a productive work at home days, and that’s a huge no for me.
I just can’t do it.
Nights after most of the family has gone to bed, on the other hand, work great. My focus is better, even though I’ve also worked through much of the day. I often finish off blog posts at night.
I’d probably stay up later, but I do have to be functional enough in the morning to get the kids off to school.
Whatever hours work best for you, make sure you include them in your work routine as much as possible. There may be times when you can’t work your preferred hours, but do the best you can.
You’ll likely find it far easier to be productive this way.
Try to set up a regular work at home schedule. Not only does this give you a routine that can help your productivity, but it also gives your friends and family a schedule they can respect. The more seriously they see you taking your work, the more seriously they will take it.
Use The Pomodoro Technique
I’ve mentioned the Pomodoro Technique in other posts. It’s a solid method of time management that I think is well suited to working at home. It’s also helpful in ensuring that you remember to take breaks, which can actually increase productivity.
I like to use breaks to get a little housework done, exercise, or play a game.
If you haven’t tried this kind of time management technique, I strongly suggest doing so. Doing short bursts of more focused work can be highly effective.
Keep The Kids Busy
As children are a major distraction, you need to plan ways to keep them busy. You can even combine this with the Pomodoro Technique and tell them that they can’t bother you until the timer goes off.
The difficulty of this depends on how old your kids are. Mine are all in school, so I have hours every school day that they aren’t home (unless one is sick, of course).
When they were younger, I had a variety of ways to keep them busy as I worked at home. They had places where they could play near me, and permission to interrupt as necessary.
Now that they’re older, I do most of my work when they’re at school, and continue it into the night.
I take a break during homework time as my youngest often still needs help, and it’s so hard to focus on writing when she’s coming up with questions every few minutes. This lasts until after dinner, even though her homework doesn’t take all that long.
Know Your Limits
How often do you try to do too much during the day? Have you ever noticed how discouraging it is to fail to reach your daily goals day after day?
Make a to do list for yourself each day, but keep it reasonable. Don’t expect more of yourself than you can really handle.
Feel Free To Move Around
One of the great things about working at home is that you may have a lot of flexibility in where you do your work. So long as you don’t have to have a wired connection to the internet or the phone, and you don’t have privacy issues to consider, you may be able to switch where you work as you please.
Get out of your home office sometimes and work someplace else. This can be the coffee shop or coworking space, in the yard while the kids play, on the couch, or wherever suits you at the time.
Don’t let this change in scenery keep you from reaching your goals for the day. These places still need to be somewhere that you can work effectively.
Review Your Progress
Take a look at how you’re doing. Are you reaching your goals? Is the procrastination monster winning or losing? Some things are going to work for you. Some things aren’t. Looking at your progress can help you figure out what still needs to change.
Review your progress regularly. What works at one point may not work in the future for you.
Consider A Focus App
If you find you need more help defeating the procrastination monster, consider a focus app. There are quite a few available for different platforms. These can help keep you on track while you work.
Remember That We All Struggle With Procrastination
You may feel as though you’re all alone in your struggles with the procrastination monster. You aren’t. We all struggle with it to some degree.
All those things I’ve listed as causes for procrastination? Yeah, they give me trouble too. Some days more than others.
There are times when I just can’t focus. Even when I know exactly what I want to get done, and truly mean to get it done, focus can be a problem.
It takes a ton of
Some people have it more difficult than others. If you’re struggling with ADHD as well as the usual challenges of working at home, you may want to consider if medication will help.
If It’s Just Not Working…
Some days, working at home just doesn’t work out. If your schedule permits, it can be best to just take those days off.
I have days where it’s next to impossible to get anything done. Things keep coming up.
If it’s bad enough, sometimes I give in and don’t even try to work the rest of that day.
It’s one of the things I love most about working for myself. I can decide which days I have off, which means I can take an unplanned one off, and make it up later if necessary. No fuss.
You don’t have to take the entire day off just because a part of it isn’t working out for you. A few hours doing something completely unrelated may be just what you need to regain your focus and get back to work.