While working remotely has a lot of advantages, it also comes with challenges.
Much has been said about the benefits of working remotely but we’re not here to rehash that. If you need a bit of refresher, check out this article about working from home.
Something had to be addressed, though.
Working from home, or working remotely, makes one prone to extreme procrastination.
You can dress it up, say that you’re scheduling, or thinking, or gathering strength for a long bout of work, but those really are just different types of procrastination.
Having been a freelancer for most of my career, I know exactly how tempting it is to procrastinate and do other things. And having been prone to procrastination in the early days of freelancing, I am very much aware of how heavily one pays for it, especially in the eye bag department.
So, to help all of you who are new or are thinking about going into freelancing or a company that allow working remotely, here are a few things to do to curb that urge to procrastinate:
1, Remember that even though you’re not working at an office, you are on company time
Sometimes, all it takes is a conscious effort to make that mental note. You may be working in your pajamas but you are working nonetheless. Your bosses or clients trust you to do in your own time what you are hired to do – just make sure that “your own time” meets the expectations of your job. Make sure that you meet all your deadlines, you never miss meetings (whether in person or online), and that people can get ahold of you during business operating hours.
Working remotely allows you to have power over your time. Cue that very popular, now seemingly eternal, Spiderman line about power and responsibility.
2. Power through your tasks with a To Do list on steroids
The problem with To Do lists is that it is oftentimes easy to justify missing some of the items in it by saying any or all of the following:
- One item took an unexpectedly long time to complete
- You deserved that coffee run after finishing a difficult task. Never mind that it took you an hour
- You realised that you couldn’t complete them all because you have listed down too many
An alternative? A scheduled To Do list that includes the actual hour and length of time it would take you to do those tasks. An example:
Too detailed? Definitely. But it does something that a plain list doesn’t do: provide you with a guide of when to start and how long you should do each specific task. It also gives you an idea of when your most productive hours are, how much time you need to finish certain tasks, and whether or not you’re underestimating or overestimating your capacity.
3. As much as humanly possible, stick to your schedule
Because, really, what’s the point of making one if you’re not going to follow it. Make room only for emergencies or urgent matters.
4. Classify your tasks
To help you figure out which tasks to prioritise, classify them based on importance and urgency. This quadrant may help:
It may be tempting to put everything in quadrant I, but control yourself. Really think about the level of importance and urgency of your tasks and classify accordingly. This is important in helping you organise your schedule.
5. Do not let yourself get distracted
Easier said than done, this is one of the most difficult ones to actually implement. For example, this is my view while writing this article:
It is incredibly tempting to just stare at it. This view and other distractions like a movie or a t.v. show running in the background, the internet, or even other people (especially if you’re out working in a public place) is an absolute test of your focus, concentration, and willpower. If you cannot deal with distractions, it is best to remove yourself from situations that provide you with said distractions.
6. Accept the fact that there is no such thing as productive multitasking
A substantial number of studies had been conducted to prove whether or not multitasking actually helps humans increase work productivity. A little spoiler on the results of those studies: it doesn’t.
One study by neuroscientists even said that multitasking literally drains the energy reserves of the brain and that about 40 per cent of productivity is lost when one multitasks. Scientifically, when you multitask, the quality of your work suffers, no matter how many times you insist that you work better when under pressure to do many things at once. Remember that your work deserves your best effort so listen to science and avoid multitasking.
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