How to Beat Procrastination in Remote Work and Freelancing: 7 Simple Ways

Procrastination is a side effect of freelancing: no one controls the work, so you start putting things off. This prevents you from taking more orders, inhibits professional growth, and even spoils your reputation because deadlines are sometimes broken.

The willpower to stop procrastination is difficult, you need to act gently and accurately. It’s better to choose uncomplicated methods, otherwise, their application will also start to be postponed. These simple techniques will help you learn how to fight procrastination and not lose.

Stop Scolding Yourself

The first important thing is to stop berating yourself. “How irresponsible I am,” “I’m not getting anything done,” “I’m a real slacker” – such thoughts are ineffective, they do more harm than good. By self-mobilizing you aggravate the situation, put yourself in a non-resourceful state, and end up in a vicious circle.

To break this negative chain of events, change tactics: instead of constantly blaming yourself for every little thing. Woke up earlier than usual, cooked a delicious dinner, and after a long postponement finally got down to business – all this is an excuse to say to yourself, “I did good!” Praise creates a positive mood and stimulates productive activity. Scolding, on the contrary, lowers your hands, and you, again and again, find yourself in the trap of procrastination.

It happens that you don’t want to perform one particular task. Inner tension about this grows and takes away strength, so the procrastinator does nothing at all and drowns in the abyss of accumulated cases. Try to free yourself from the hated task for a while. Legal time-out will reduce dissatisfaction with yourself, stop unpleasant thoughts, and free up energy for other useful activities.

You don’t want to get involved in a project now – make a to-do list, read articles and books related to your profession, watch training videos, and develop your hard and soft skills. If you like hanging out on social networks, get involved in networking, and talk to successful people. You can commend yourself for this: such activities are important, and they inspire you to get to work.

Find the Reason for Procrastination

Procrastination doesn’t occur in an empty place, it’s a defense mechanism that protects the psyche from negative factors. You do not just put things off, there is always something behind this, and here it is important to identify the true problem. When you procrastinate again, ask yourself: “What’s the reason I’m not getting to the task at hand?” The most common answer is, “I don’t want to.” Digging deeper, ask again, “What’s the reason I don’t want to?” The answers will reveal the reason for procrastination, let’s examine them.

Lack of Desire and Interest

Even a job you love can’t inspire you all the time, especially when you’ve been doing the same thing for several years. If it becomes boring and nauseating, add novelty to the work processes.

For example, rent a coworking space or modernize the workplace: rearrange the table, throw out unnecessary things, buy a new chair, and place a motivating picture.

Reconsider the attitude to the project, imagine it not as something difficult and uninteresting, but as a way to self-expression, money, stability, and success because that is what you work for. If you feel professional burnout, don’t rush to think about changing activities, as this phenomenon often indicates professional stagnation – think about growth, development in the field, take up new tasks that are interesting for you.

Take 5 Minutes

Compare “I need to master betting on baseball” and “I’ll only spend five minutes on learning how to live bet basketball.” The second option seems to be easier, it’s not difficult to talk yourself into giving only 5 minutes to the task: this minimum isn’t frightening and doesn’t strain the brain. Of course, this isn’t enough for productivity, but usually, you start, and you get a taste for it – you’ll want to stay longer. If you manage to work for only 5 minutes, it’s still better than nothing.

Belle Beth Cooper, the co-founder of Hello Code, used the five-minute method to learn how to speak and write French in a year. She says that the main thing is not to skip classes, it should become a habit.

It isn’t always possible to convince yourself that such five-minute sessions will have an effect. But let’s do the math: Five minutes of daily exercise in a year will turn into 30 hours. During this time, you can learn the basic functions of Photoshop, learn to create websites on the website builder, or master the “hot” keys.

Uncertainty, Fear for the Result

Among procrastinators, a large number of perfectionists. They put off work for later, reasoning, “I’m not ready to do it well yet.” Their thinking is characterized by all-or-nothing cognitive distortions, i.e., “I’ll do it perfectly or I won’t do it at all.” Include the rational part and think about whether the ideal is achievable and maybe the project just needs to be done well, because that’s better than not doing it at all. Any result will do more good than no result at all. Even if something didn’t work out, you can identify mistakes and correct them – the important thing is that the process has begun.

The customer or employer doesn’t need perfection, he pays for something that works – something that can be applied to the current project and benefit. No one needs something perfect but completed after the deadline. It’s like making the perfect dinner and bringing it when everyone is already full from the delivery pizza.

With any uncertainty, the statement: you can’t jump over your head, you can’t do worse than you know how. Stop thinking about the perfect thing and start doing it!

Tired, No Energy

In this case, stop for a while. You need quality rest, adequate sleep, a change of scenery, sports, and reconsidering your lifestyle. If fatigue is chronic, check your health: vitamin and micronutrient deficiencies, and hormonal failures often cause loss of strength. If all is well in this regard, analyze what is draining your energy. This can be internal conflicts, gloomy thoughts, and stress – it’s important to deal with this with a therapist.

As you can see, procrastination can signal a deeper problem. Sort it out, and then it will be easier to solve problems because there will be no more reasons to avoid them.

Divide the “Elephant” Into Parts

This method is similar to the previous one – here, too, you need to break the task into small pieces, so as not to perceive it as complicated and voluminous.

Suppose you have the task of creating a website. Again, you start putting it off, imagining how much work you’ll have to do. Don’t frighten yourself – break the process into stages: now I will install WordPress, before lunch, I will choose a theme, after lunch I will install the modules, then move the site to the hosting, and in the evening I will fill the main blocks. Solving these kinds of micro-tasks is easier than trying to “eat the elephant” in its entirety.

For greater effect, do this exercise. Put the list of microtasks into the table and estimate in percentages the expected difficulty and pleasure of the process, and after completing it, the actual difficulty and pleasure. See what comes out of it. Procrastinators usually present things as difficult and joyless, but in the end, the opposite is true.

Evaluating the difficulty and pleasure will make you realize that the tasks you are facing are not as difficult as they seem at first glance, and it’s even enjoyable to do them. You will see that labor brings much more pleasure than putting things off, and because the task is divided into stages, it isn’t difficult to perform it.

Use Time Management Techniques

In time management, there are great techniques to help stop procrastination, one of them is the Eisenhower matrix. Its essence is to sort the list of tasks on the principle: important or unimportant, urgent or non-urgent. Thus you will understand what to do right now, and what to delegate, schedule or cancel altogether.

The Eisenhower Matrix helps you to prioritize and not to put off the main things to the end of the day. Procrastinators often reason in this way: I’ll do some small things now, and then I’ll quietly get down to the important project. Such tactics are erroneous: there is a risk of disrupting deadlines. It’s reasonable, on the contrary, to postpone small tasks in favor of serious tasks – this is called proper procrastination.

Another good way to get rid of procrastination is the Pomodoro technique. It will help you not procrastinate and plan your time rationally. You will need a timer, or better yet, a special application: Flat Tomato, Clockwork Tomato, Focus Booster, or another. 

Here’s how to apply Pomodoro:

  • Divide your planned task for the day into time slots of 30 minutes: 25 minutes to work and 5 minutes to rest.
  • During work don’t get distracted: close social networks, turn off the sound on the phone, ask your family not to disturb you.
  • If distracted, stop the timer, reset it to zero, and start over.
  • After four “tomatoes,” rest for 20-40 minutes, then get down to business again.

Measuring tasks this way is convenient; this approach organizes things in your head and sets your brain up for productive work.

“No Buts” Exercise

Procrastinators tend to justify their procrastination and find a thousand excuses. Observe how you do it, and learn to overcome your “buts.” There’s a great exercise for this that David Burns suggested. The idea is to find an argument for each “but” and so on until the list of excuses runs out.

Be persistent: don’t give up and don’t fall for the tricks of the inner idler. Eventually, you will be able to stop procrastination and convince yourself to get down to business.

Ask Yourself the “Magic” Question

There are special questions in psychology that help you break through the shroud of ineffective thinking. One of them is “What am I missing out on if I don’t accomplish a task right now?” The answers will help motivate you and see what opportunities you are “flushing down the toilet” in favor of procrastination. A high fee, customer confidence, career advancement, new opportunities, time to relax in the evening with the family – such a list encourages you to get down to business immediately. The question can be rephrased, “What do I get if I complete the task right now?” Try both and leave the one that works best for you.

Now you know how to beat procrastination, and you can stop it. Praise yourself, divide the “elephant” into parts, apply time management, parry the excuses of “lazy” and then procrastination will have no chance!
Faced with the lure of social media and the dream of working from bed, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to chip away at projects while working from home and freelancing. Procrastination is a real problem for most remote workers and freelancers. It often leads to missing deadlines, taking on more jobs than one can handle, and feeling overwhelmed.

Fortunately, there are a few simple steps one can take to beat procrastination and get more done.

1. Create a to-do list. Start each day with a list of tasks that need to be completed and prioritize them in order of importance. This will help keep you on track and allow you to focus on the most important task first.

2. Use a calendar. Block off time in the day to work on your tasks and stick to it. When something urgent arises, be prepared to reprioritize and move some tasks around in order to get them done.

3. Limit distractions. Turn off your phone and set your computer for “do not disturb” mode while you’re working. As well, remove any unnecessary and distracting items from your workspace.

4. Set aside uninterrupted time. Working in a noisy or distracted environment can quickly lead to procrastination. Create a quiet and comfortable environment, preferably with a door that can be closed.

5. Take regular breaks. Working for long periods of time without a break is exhausting and can quickly lead to procrastination. Schedule regular breaks throughout the day to rest and refocus.

6. Take time off. Working from home can easily blur the lines between work-life and personal life. Taking a day off each week to recharge will keep you motivated and effective.

7. Establish rules. Create boundaries with yourself and clearly outline what is acceptable and not acceptable behaviour. This will help you stay focused and work towards longterm goals.

By following these simple steps, remote workers and freelancers can keep procrastination at bay and stay motivated and productive.

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