Procrastination is a common problem nowadays. Especially when you work online as a freelancer, you are faced with many distractions. Social media platforms like Facebook, a distracting environment or a lack of passion for the task let us become procrastinators. If you are one of them and frustrated by it, let me help and inspire you. Here are my top tips to stay productive:
Procrastination is everywhere
I’m confronted almost daily with this problem. Either friends tell me that they lose plenty of time due to procrastination. Or I randomly find Facebook posts from people who don’t know how to remain on track.
That you get easily distracted can have many reasons.
It’s important that you take the time to reflect yourself and your habits to find out what your exact problem is.
Ask yourself the following questions
Are you overwhelmed by your tasks and goals?
Many people feel overwhelmed because they see their crazy long to-do lists and think it’s impossible to finish all. But who said, you have to complete everything in one day?
Break your big tasks and goals down into smaller, manageable pieces and set realistic due dates. Don’t forget to calculate enough time for interruptions (which you can’t control) and breaks throughout the day including meals.
Only focus on the next little steps, don’t think about all the future tasks.
Do you set priorities?
Another common mistake is to have long to-do lists without priorities. Are you aware that there is a difference between “important” and “urgent”? Since I discovered the so-called Eisenhower Box, my work life and productivity improved! How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the Eisenhower Box is a must-read article. It helps you to define “important” and “urgent” tasks.
Do you make enough breaks during the day?
If you don’t, you easily lose your focus and energy. Our brains are just not made for working non-stop. There are many studies which prove that the human brain has a limited attention span. And you should not ignore it.
If you implement more breaks, you create free moments in which you can do whatever you want without feeling guilty.
The best technique I can’t live without anymore is called Pomodoro. It helps you to manage time in a smart way, eliminate distractions and avoid burnout. Pomodoro is easy to learn – find out how it works here.
Since I follow Pomodoro, I scroll regularly and happily through Facebook in my little breaks, because I deserve it – haha! I enjoy those mini Facebook moments and I feel no longer guilty. After my five to ten minute breaks – I dive into work again fully focused and motivated.
Do you multitask?
Stop now. Don’t do that. Multiple studies show that multitasking damages our brains and destroys productivity.
Do you turn off push notifications or your phone Wifi to not get distracted?
No extra comment needed, right?
Do you have a dedicated workspace?
How does your workspace make you feel? Is it inspiring or rather inviting you to take a nap? Do you work in the sleeping room? That’s a bad idea.
A dedicated workspace, tidy table, and calm environment help you to focus. Find a room where nobody talks to you unexpectedly. If you get interrupted, again and again, you will easily lose motivation and focus on finishing your tasks.
In case you can’t escape people who distract you, use headphones and a motivating or calming music. I like to listen to rain sounds for example.
Do you regularly take a few days off to recharge your batteries?
I know many freelancers who work constantly – up to seven days a week. They think they get things done but sooner or later they lose energy and focus and experience exhaustion. We are no robots, but humans. We need breaks. Regular.
Try a digital detox and feel the difference! Read my article 5 Steps To Master Your Digital Detox.
Are you a perfectionist?
I have to admit, I tend to be one. But I learned to take things easier. For good reasons. I prefer to get things done instead of making myself crazy with too many little details. We lose so much time with perfection. And who cares in the end about it?
It’s all about learning by doing. Give your best, but don’t try to be perfect. Take action and keep moving.
Do you have an accountability buddy?
Working alone and at home can be quite isolating and often it leads to procrastination. For the simple reason that nobody controls us. Don’t get me wrong, I like freedom, but I figured out that an accountability buddy is awesome to stay on track. Have a regular chat, talk about your goals and check out how your buddy is doing during the week. Support along the way makes us feel good and motivated.
Do you need help with your tasks?
Sometimes we want to do it all, but we simply can’t for different reasons. Often it’s a skill that is missing. There are two options to deal with it. Either get help from a professional. Or, simply learn that skill. Don’t just sit there being frustrated.
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Are you convinced of your goals?
When we do our best but we just can’t motivate ourselves to work and accomplish anything, it’s time to reflect our goals. Be honest with yourself. If you procrastinate for a long period, it could be that you work on something which is not worth your time and effort.
Goals can change over time. Reflect on them. Adjust them.
Do you visualize your future?
Even so, I recommend to focus on the next small steps and tasks, don’t forget to remind yourself where you want to be in one week, one month and one year.
Our work is helping us to accomplish dreams. See the positive side. Imagine how your finished tasks and projects will make you feel. Imagine how proud you will be. Visualize your success.
Do you celebrate your progress?
We tend to forget about how important it is to be proud of ourselves when we accomplish tasks. Take the time to honor your work. Go and eat an ice cream, meet friends to have a fun time, go shopping or book a massage.
And don’t forget to remind yourself of those rewards while procrastinating!
Follow the Two Minute Rule by David Allen. He is the author of the bestselling book Getting Things Done. Get inspired by his interview 1-on-1: David Allen’s Two-Minute Rule to learn more about it and get super productive.
To summarize his two-minute rule quickly: If a task takes lass than two minutes, do it NOW.
I hope, my article inspires you to take action. Whenever you feel lost, take a few minutes and reflect your behaviour.
Ask yourself regularly if you follow these twelve rules:
1. Reflect your goals
2. Set priorities
3. Make enough breaks (daily and weekly)
4. Don’t multitask
5. Turn of push notifications
6. Create a dedicated workspace
7. Don’t try to be perfect
8. Get an accountability buddy
9. Get professional help
10. Visualize your future
11. Take action – don’t overthink
12. Celebrate your success
What makes you procrastinating?
Do you have other helpful tips to share how to get productive?
Leave a comment below!
Stay productive and balanced, Kathrin
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