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Avoid Procrastination with These Handy Tips

As someone who works from home, I know how hard it is to stay focused. Sometimes it feels as if the entire world is conspiring to keep me from getting any work done. I promise that I’ll begin working after a TV program is over,only to fall into a pit of YouTube videos, which is followed up by a few quick hours on Facebook. Before you knowit, the whole day is shot and I’ve got nothing to show for it.

Because I wrestle with procrastination on a regular basis, I was excited about finding some help during one of my late night internet gorges. The Huffington Post has a great article about the seven ways to keep yourself on task when your productivity is flagging. Because I’m a sucker for a numbered list that promises to make me a better person, I decided to follow their advice for a week. Here’s what I tried, along with a description on how well it worked:

1.Do something else. The idea on this is that you should take a break to refocus whenever things are getting stale. This is helpful if the ‘something else’ you do is productive. I found that an hour of thumbing through comedy articles made me no more productive than before.

2.Add a deadline. If there’s no ‘due by’ date, then there’s no real urgency. Giving each task a deadline makes every item important. How did it work? Surprisingly well. I found that adding my jobs into Google calendar gave them a legitimacy they had all been lacking.

3.Delegate. Find a partner who can either help with your work or take over while you focus on something else. Verdict—not so good. Unless you’re the boss or you have some sort of leverage on your potential ‘helper,’ this isn’t a useful hint.

4.Rename the project. Give your work an exciting new name to keep things fresh. I tried this once, announcing to my husband that I was “liberating the kitchen sink for freedom,” but in the end we decided I should give up on the fancy names and he’d do the plumbing.

5.Ditch the list. Just throw away my ‘to do’ list? Why don’t you just ask me to give up my morning coffee? Both pieces of advice will have me wandering around my kitchen, clucking like a chicken until someone tells me what to do. Verdict—didn’t even try.

6.Reward yourself. Now we’re talking! I don’t even get out of bed in the morning without rewarding myself (see ‘morning coffee’ above), so this was right up my alley. I rewarded myself every day for a week with a low-cal ice cream when I got all my work done on time.

In the end, I found that I work best with a reward. This wasn’t a big surprise to me, but I found it interesting that adding a deadline helped a lot. My week of procrastination boot camp wasn’t miraculous, but it did give me some hope. In the end, I think that facing my challenges instead of promising to think about them later was a real help.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve completed this article so I just earned a trip to the store.


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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Didriks

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