It’s human nature to put off complicated or difficult tasks. It’s also tough to get and stay focused when there’s a lot on your mind. You may find the new unknowns of life during the COVID-19 pandemic is adding to your stress. And, it’s ok to admit if working from home, while beneficial in many ways, can be an environment fraught with distractions and reasons to put off getting down to business.
What’s a well-meaning worker to do?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. We are all tempted to procrastinate. Knowing this is true for me, I’ve leaned into the mantra, “Eat the frog!” To paraphrase Mark Twain, “eat the frog” means doing what it takes to tackle tough tasks.
Here are a few strategies I’ve always used to eat the frog, along with a few new ones to help make working from home a little more productive.
Set an internal deadline way before the hard deadline.
Think of it as a mind trick that works on you!
Put everything on a calendar and block out specific times for work tasks and home errands.
A calendar with interval blocking is your best friend! Creating a schedule tailored to the work you want to get done first can help reduce procrastination.
Determine if there’s any uncertainty to the task, then get the answers you need.
We tend to procrastinate if something is unclear or confusing. When you are working at home, it may be more difficult to get quick answers. If you recognize this as part of the problem, make sure you block out time to obtain what you need to get started.
Reduce distractions & plan for interruptions.
Easier said than done, especially at home! Our jobs may demand multi-tasking and being at home only adds to that demand, but constantly switching between tasks can negatively impact your concentration. This is where, once again, time blocking is your friend. When it’s time to work, do all you can to avoid what may distract you. Close those extra tabs on your computer and turn off the phone, if necessary. But then, when it’s time to be interrupted, go ahead and read that email from your child’s teacher, and make callbacks.
Find an accountability partner.
Check-ins with a teammate help you both stay on track, and it’s a great way to help with feelings of isolation.
Do what you need to shift your mood.
It turns out, procrastination is not about laziness. It has a lot to do, in fact, with your overall mood. What will help you put you in an upbeat mood? Maybe it’s a change of scenery (from the kitchen table to the dining room table, LOL). Or to start your day with no screen time. A little exercise might do the trick. Or maybe it’s waking up early to enjoy some coffee in peace. Whatever it is, do that!
I’d love to hear if you have a motto or a saying in your company that you’ve been using to help keep your team going during these difficult circumstances. Please send me an email so I can share it online!