Freelancers often work alone in their homes or private spaces where the work atmosphere is relatively free. While this “freedom” is one of the major rewards for being a freelancer, it can also be the very stumbling block if left unchecked. Among all deadly sins in productivity, Distraction and Procrastination are probably the most stubborn ones for full-time freelancers. There is no one behind your shoulders to check what you are working on – or whether you are working at all! You can be spending a lot more time than you should on your “online research”, which in fact yields little productivity and results. Of course, we never admit we are procrastinating, but more often than not, we are…
As the beginning of a new series in addressing productivity in freelancing, we will start by exploring how to overcome procrastination. Below is a nice sharing by Suresh Rathinam from Singapore - and I hope you may find it useful as I did.
Following is the article shared with permission by the author:
I was a very bad Procrastinator for a very long time, until i really understood the basics of why i procrastinate.
In order to understand why you procrastinate, first you should have a strong desire to eliminate procrastination in your life and following the methods mentioned below will be helpful.
I. Track down your everyday activity
When i first started writing down the list of activities that i do everyday, it felt like a waste of time. But later while analyzing the one month data i clearly understood why i don’t have enough time to do the necessary activities and it narrowed down to the bad habits that i had created over time.
I was spending most of my time in Facebook and was affected by the “Chain-clicking curse” where watching a video from Facebook will lead to YouTube in-turn to Twitter to see the trend and it goes on and on into loads of unnecessary browsing wasting your precious time
II.Understanding why we procrastinate
We procrastinate because of the habits that we create over time. When we work some random thought strikes our mind, it might be as simple as,
where to go for the next vacation?
and I go to online to check details of it.
it doesn’t stop there, then to Facebook to see where my friends went? and something else catches up my eyes and the clicks goes endlessly
III. How we create Habits
I have been following this routine every day which let me do overtime to complete my work and had no time for the essential things in life. All of these made sense to me when i read the Power of habit by Charles Duhigg.
understanding the basic of habit was big help to me. I starts with a cue/Signalin my case it was the random thought and my routine was to search about it and reward that i get is leaving a stressful work for that moment/satisfaction by answering my random thought which sucks my time endlessly leaving only a very short period of time to do the necessary.
Now the trick it to replace the bad routine with a good routine which will lead to greater productivity in life, which could be understood by looking at how runners reward themselves
Here the cue is the Running shoe and it lets you to the routine of running which was created over time, running leads to the reward which is sense of accomplishment on completing a run also satisfying the Endorphin craving that you get by looking at the running shoe
IV. How I cured myself by changing my routine
1. Keeping myself distraction free
a. Turn off internet: Most of my work doesn’t need internet so turned off my WiFi whenever i work.
b. Note pad: Whenever some random thoughts strike rather than searching it online i started recording them down in a small note and researched about them later
c. Setting Time limits: Started setting a duration to complete my work which helped me to focus more on my work, Even had set time on socializing with my colleagues spending not more than 5 minutes on unnecessary talks.
2. Sustaining the habits
a. Tracking your activities: Its quite tough for me to write every activity now and then, so i spent half an hour every day before sleeping to write down the activities of the whole day splitting into hourly activities and do a quick analysis on where to improve next day. It looks something like this,
9:00 – 10:00 : Forecast Meeting
10:00 – 11:00 : Project#1 – Prepared the procedure
b. Prioritizing activities for tomorrow: This summary helps me in prioritizing the activities that i should be concentrating more tomorrow and I write down top 3 things that should be completed tomorrow
c. Monthly and Quarterly Review: then i started analyzing my monthly and quarterly data’s to continuously improve my productivity
The methods mentioned above worked perfectly for me and I started finding more time to do the necessary things in life. Hope it will be useful for you as well, Let me know if it was helpful
About the Author : Suresh Rathinam is an Electrical Engineer who loves to learn multiple facets of life. A Knowledge seeker and a constant explorer. You may get in touch with him at email@example.com