12 Proven Ways to Stop Procrastinating While Working Remotely
by Thom Brown
If you’re part of the 88% of workers who procrastinate at least once a day, then you’re probably looking for solutions. Procrastination is inevitable but at some point, it causes real harm to your professional progress. All office workers get distracted but when you work remotely, the problem is compounded.
Luckily, there are plenty of strategies remote workers can use to overcome this struggle. Here’s how to stop procrastinating and succeed as a remote worker.
- Find a Dedicated Workspace
Procrastination often occurs when you’re not fully in the work mindset. You can, therefore, help yourself by making sure you have a space dedicated to work and only work. If you’re trying to work where you sleep or eat, then your mind and body won’t fully enter “work mode.”
This is one of the toughest problems for remote workers. When I worked in an office, it was easy to go there and get things done. Now that I work remotely, I have to create a space for this. Even if it’s just a desk, you’ll know that when you sit down, the time for social and leisure activities is over.
- Have Great Setup
Wherever possible, your dedicated workspace should have a great setup. If you have work equipment that is a joy to use, then you’ll want to use it. Many rental apartments are created for tourists and, therefore, leave you feeling like you’re in holiday mode. That’s why Anyplace Select provides you with a great office setup. This will get remote workers in the mood for productivity.
If you have an awesome green screen for Zoom calls, then you’ll be less likely to skip the weekly meeting. If you have fast WiFi, then you won’t get distracted while waiting for a page to load. The more awesome your office is, the more you’ll want to be there.
- Create a Well-Defined Schedule
One of my biggest mistakes as a remote worker is thinking that I can just work when I want. Time, I thought, was just a social construct that wasn’t worth paying attention to. I could just work when I felt like it and rest when I wanted. The problem with this is that I always want to rest and rarely wanted to work.
Instead, create a schedule dividing the workday into eight one-hour blocks. Decide exactly when you’ll focus on work. There’s still space to be flexible here; an hour work block in the morning can be moved to the afternoon if something comes up. But you’ll see exactly how much work you’re planning to do and will make sure it gets done.
- Get in the Zone
The zone is a place of deep focus, in which you have no interest in the things happening around you. Your full attention is on your work. To do this, you need to eliminate distractions and give yourself space to enter a flow state.
When I have a creative task, such as writing an article, I fire up some classical music (usually Chopin). I make sure I’ve attended to all my biological needs and then put my phone somewhere far away from my desk. With no distractions, I begin typing in time with the music and the words just flow. Once I’m in this state, I have no interest in procrastinating.
- Get All Your Chores Done in Your Free Time
You can preemptively fight procrastination by doing your chores early. If I’m working in an untidy environment, with dishes piled up, then procrastination becomes all too seductive. It’s easy to justify leaving your work and get the washing up done first.
You can’t work in a messy environment, right? If you have a spare hour before you start work, then consider cleaning up rather than scrolling Instagram or watching YouTube videos. This way, when the work starts, you won’t be able to justify it to yourself. You won’t be able to fake the feeling of productivity by vacuuming the house.
- Break Big Tasks Down
The hardest part of any important project is getting started. There’s nothing scarier than a blank page when you know you have 2,000 words to write. This is when the urge to procrastinate is stronger than ever. You’ll convince yourself to start the project later when you find the willpower.
If you break a task down, then it becomes less daunting. For instance, this list of 12 items seems quite long. That’s why I told myself just to focus on the first three. Suddenly, this is a much simpler task that I’m happy to get started on right away. Do that three more times and you’ve got yourself a full article.
- Remember Your Long-Term Vision
Achieving your professional dreams is sometimes going to require dull, monotonous tasks. When you’re only thinking about the day ahead, you might fail to see the point of filling in that spreadsheet or wading through your Google Analytics data. This will cause you to seek anything else to do instead.
To regain the motivation, focus on what you’re working towards. These small, seemingly pointless steps all add up to something a lot more exciting. Think about where you want to be in 5 or 10 years and you’ll find procrastination to be a bad option.
- Offer Yourself Short-Term Rewards
You may understand the long-term rewards from a purely theoretical point of view but this often isn’t enough. What you need is something more visceral. If you experience intense pleasure whenever you complete a task, then you’ll naturally want to seek it out again.
Essentially, a remote worker is just a dog doing tricks for treats. The reward you choose for yourself could be anything but, of course, don’t excessively reward yourself with alcohol and junk food. That will only become counterproductive. Personally, I’m writing this from a small island. That means that as soon as I’m done, I’ll reward myself with a sunset swim in the sea.
- Work on Your Sleep Habits
Procrastination is often a sign of fatigue. When the brain can’t concentrate it will get distracted. You’ll also be drawn to tasks that require the least amount of mental energy, such as watching television, scrolling your newsfeed, or washing up. Therefore, sleep might be how to stop procrastinating.
The best ways to improve your sleep are to limit caffeine after midday, create a dark and quiet environment, and go to bed at the same time each night. If you do all these things, then you should find yourself achieving more and better quality sleep. You’ll then wake up ready to be more focused.
- Start with the Most Daunting Tasks
This has worked well for me. I used to start the day with the easier tasks, thinking that I’ll build up to the big, difficult, scary projects. Once those little tasks were done, though, I was tired and already felt a satisfying sense of accomplishment. This meant that the hard tasks were always pushed to a later date.
One day, I decided to start with the hardest job. Once it was done, it offered an amazing sense of relief. That would give me the confidence and mental energy to rattle through the more easy and enjoyable tasks.
- Start with the Unpaid Jobs
Many remote workers will have tasks that they get paid for and ones they don’t. Unpaid jobs typically involve searching for work, networking, writing pitches, and sending invoices. Since you aren’t being financially rewarded for your time, they’re easy to neglect. I’ve found myself procrastinating on this important unpaid work by doing paid work that isn’t even due for a long time.
The money is simply too important to ignore. That’s why I decided to force myself to do the unpaid stuff first. I can trust myself that the other projects will be completed because not doing so would mean not getting paid and potentially struggling to afford my living costs.
- Do Useful Procrastination Tasks
Not all procrastination is a waste of time. If you really feel that you want to be doing anything other than your work, then think about a productive way to do so. I like to organize my spreadsheets and other documents, create a schedule for the week or clean my email inbox. Anything that will ultimately lead to me being able to work more quickly in the future is worth doing. Procrastination is all but inevitable so why not make it work for you?
Now you know how to stop procrastinating, you can start feeling happy and productive as a remote worker. Find yourself a dedicated office space with a great setup and then implement the strategies above to overcome procrastination once and for all.
Where to next? Find flexible month-to-month rentals across the globe on Anyplace.
Born in Oxford, UK, Thom has been a digital nomad since graduating from the University of Sheffield in 2016. He’s a freelance writer and founder of Thom Brown Travel. Thom specializes in minimalist, ethical, and meaningful travel writing.