Working from home has been a necessity for the past year or so. However, as our situations move toward a new normal, many people are finding they would prefer to continue working remotely. And others say they would be happy to work part-time from home, if possible.

This is a major shift in the way most of us are working. However, when working remotely, it’s essential to avoid struggling with the many temptations found at home. It can be a real struggle for some people. Procrastination is only a second away, depending on whether you choose to work or be distracted by other things.

Procrastination, Stress, and Being Hard on Yourself

Remember those first few days and maybe weeks when you started working from home? You had such great intentions! Most people believe they’ll be more on top of their work, meeting project deadlines, and more. Instead, they may find themselves procrastinating. Have you been, or are you now in this position?

It may begin as something very small. Maybe you’re not happy with the arrangement of your workspace. So, you start rearranging furniture, pictures on the wall, and more. Oh, and once you’ve finished rearranging your home office, you may notice some dust bunnies here and there. Of course, then it’s time to clean. Work can wait, right?

Now, you may have a deadline on a project coming up. In fact, you check the calendar only to realize it’s due tomorrow. However, you still don’t get to it. When this happens, you may start to feel negative about yourself, which can also trigger stress with all its pleasant hormones.

What’s Driving the Procrastination?

Procrastination is known to be a self-defeating behavior. It’s actually a pattern; once it starts, procrastination is very hard to change. However, psychologists have found that procrastination does have a purpose. It’s to provide your mind with a bit more time to re-energize and improve your mood.

What’s more, procrastination may be protecting you against fear, judgment by others, failure, and even self-condemnation. However, the outcome is that you end up staying in the procrastination phase rather than refueling. It’s a fact that this type of behavior takes a lot of energy and effort. All this energy and effort needs to be put toward your work instead.

What Can You Do About Procrastination?

We’ve put together some tips to help you work through the procrastination and get back to work.

1). Self-Care & Compassion

Did you know there’s a link between self-compassion and success? When you spend time procrastinating and are then hard on yourself for this, you only make the situation worse. You keep yourself from getting better.

So, rather than beating yourself up about procrastinating, take time to take care of yourself. And don’t be so hard on yourself. Being kind to yourself helps you recover sooner. When you forgive yourself, all those stress hormones begin to subside. Stress is also relieved, while self-forgiveness boosts your motivation.

2). Curb Perfectionism

This is a huge problem for many people. They believe everything they work on must come out completely perfect! What’s the result? You feel the task is too difficult and that the results will be judged harshly. Perfectionism can lead you to make unrealistic goals, then try too hard, leaving you a failure when the result isn’t perfect.

However, when you see tasks as doable and reachable, the tendency to procrastinate will fall away. You’ll be happy with a less-than-perfect outcome. Giving yourself permission to make a mistake is the first step to relieving procrastination.

3). Create a Daily Plan

Having a daily plan is a great way to beat procrastination. Studies have shown that people who have a plan do get more done, which means a higher level of productivity.

You can start by working in a delegate workspace. This way, your mind will be geared up to focus on working rather than moving the furniture around. Be sure to choose a workspace that has few interruptions and fosters focus.

This way, you’ll be sure to get more done on a regular basis. Make a commitment to work now and then do personal tasks when you’re done working. This way, you’ll get more done when it comes to housework, too.  

It also helps to stay on a regular schedule each workday. Set a time to begin and a time to end your workday, and stick to this schedule.

4). Break Tasks into Smaller Steps

Another way to break free of procrastination is to break larger tasks down into smaller steps. Remember that project that’s due tomorrow? To keep from having everything due at a looming deadline, instead, break this large task down into smaller steps. Be sure to set a realistic start & end time, then schedule the smaller steps within this timeline.

The effect this has on your brain is amazing. When your brain sees you’re getting each step completed according to schedule, it allows you to relax. There’s not as much stress involved. You know, if you stay on schedule, that you’ll have the project done on time. You may even manage to get it done early!

This is a method that works with any type of project, whether it’s for work or home!

5). Stop Saying “Must” or “Should”

This is another problem that can lead to self-sabotage and procrastination. When you say “must,” your brain sees this as a negative term. Here are some examples, “I must get that client to sign the contract,” “I must get those documents sent off today,” “I must do perfect work.” These phrases have a tendency to overwhelm you, which leads to stress and more.

Instead, use a supportive phrase. Here are some examples: “I choose to…” “I want to…” “I can…” When your mind brings up the word “must” (or the similar word “should”), then replace it with one of these phrases. That persnickety voice that’s saying you “must” or “should” will clear out pretty fast, and you’ll feel less stressed.

6). Don’t Call Yourself a Procrastinator

Once you begin labeling yourself a procrastinator, you become what you’re trying to avoid. The habit even becomes more ingrained. It also means that you’re accepting the label, which is very negative.

Instead, learn how to separate yourself from the issue. Take a look at the issue without judging yourself. You might even try referring to the procrastination as another person. Talk to this “other person” and try to be compassionate. The result will be less negativity about yourself and more compassion, too. You will feel better and not as stressed out.

7). Remember to Reward Yourself

Once you’ve started successfully completing your small tasks, then plan on rewarding yourself. However, don’t fall into the trap of rewarding yourself before the tasks are done. Make yourself wait.

When the task is completed, then do something to reward yourself. Maybe allow yourself to have one of those freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen!

Following these steps can get you back to working again and getting things done on time. Just remember to never be harsh or negative about yourself. Try to break larger tasks into smaller steps, and when you accomplish one of those smaller steps, then give yourself a reward!

You’re sure to break free of procrastination when you’re kinder and more compassionate to yourself!

Written by the team at Purple Lemur