Working from home: Managing Procrastination

Have you found yourself working from home (WHF) recently? If so, have you found yourself procrastinating more? Have you been putting off an activity or task despite expecting to be worse off for the delay? 

If you have recently found yourself procrastinating while WFH you are not alone. Research shows that nearly one fifth of the adult population and half of the student population have difficulties with procrastination during non-pandemic times. I imagine that these numbers are even higher during a global pandemic when we are faced with many new worries and anxieties. 

Thankfully, there are a number of strategies we can use to help us to overcome procrastination and successfully transition to WFH.

Stop justifying your procrastination

Do you find yourself saying things such as “I’m too tired now, it will be better do to it tomorrow when I’ve got more energy”, or “I’m not feeling motivated, I’ll wait until I am” or “I need to do the dishes first; otherwise I won’t be able to concentrate”?

While it might be true that you are tired, that you are not feeling motivated or that there are dishes that need to be done, the conclusions that we draw from these excuses- “that it will be better to do it tomorrow…”, “I’ll wait until I’m motivated”, and “I won’t be able to concentrate”- are often not true.  

Think about a task you’ve put off previously. Was it any easier to get started the next day when you had more energy? Did you have more energy? Were you able to concentrate after you had done the dishes or did something else, say the dripping tap in the kitchen distract you as you sat down to work? 

If you find that mostly the conclusions that you have drawn from your excuses are generally not correct, it might be time to change them. “It is true that I’m tired, but I’ll make a start anyway”, “I’m not feeling motivated now, but maybe I will be once I’ve made a start”, “I’ll just write this email, and then I’ll do the dishes”.

Remove distractions 

If you haven’t already done so take some time to set up your new workspace so that it is functional, comfortable and free from distractions.

If you can, choose a place to WFH away from distractions (e.g., TV, fridge, family members) such as a spare room or quiet nock away from communal living areas.

Also, turn notifications off on your emails and phone and instead set aside a few times to check these throughout the working day. For example, you may decide to check your work email once in the morning before you start work, after your lunch break and then once again in the afternoon.

Schedule in rewards

It is likely that while WFH you are missing out on some of the natural rewards built into your work day such as chatting with co-workers over lunch or walking down to your favourite café for a coffee.

Try to build these rewards into your day while you’re working from home.

Schedule to call a friend or co-worker after you’ve spent an allocated amount of time on a job. Alternatively, schedule to make a coffee and enjoy it outside in your backyard or on your balcony. 

Just 5-minutes

If you are having a hard time getting started on a particular task or project choose to spend just 5-minutes on it. At the end of the 5-minutes, see how you feel and whether you might be able to do just another 5-minutes and so on. You may find that once you’ve made a start that the job feels less overwhelming and/or that you’re feeling more motivated to keep going.  

Be kind to yourself

And perhaps most importantly, during these unprecedented times, be kind to yourself. If you notice that your self-talk has become critical- “I’ve got more time on my hands since I’m not commuting, I should be being more productive!”, “come on Jo! stop being so lazy!”- remember to be kind to yourself. Being critical will only make WFH even more unappealing and therefore you will be more likely to keep procrastinating. One way to be kind to yourself may be to ask “what would I say to a friend/family member who was struggling to get things done at this time?”. 

Hopefully, the above strategies will help you to feel empowered to overcome your procrastination while WFH, but if you do feel like you need some extra assistance during this time please contact our friendly client relationship team.


Written by Dr Gemma Healey, Clinical Psychologist Registrar

More information

If you would like to learn more about managing procrastination or book an appointment with Dr Gemma Healey or another one of our experienced clinical psychologists, contact our friendly client team by calling 6143 4499 or email via our contact page.

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