When you work remotely it’s amazing how much you can get done. You’re often left alone, uninterrupted, and can pick the hours (to a degree) that you work on things. That’s great. Every once in a while, though, there’s a task with a deadline staring at us and we just…can’t…get…started.

Here are some simple techniques for jump-starting your work when procrastination is getting the better of you.

Reach out and talk about it with someone.

This is what we’d do in the office, but remote workers don’t reach out for a number of reasons. We worry about interfering with people’s schedules, or maybe we are concerned about looking incompetent. Sometimes it’s as simple as preferring to handle things ourselves that fuels our procrastination. Talking it out for some of us is the simplest way to break whatever mental log-jam is holding us back.

Determine the real reason behind your procrastination.

If there are genuine barriers, you can do something about them. Ask yourself honestly about what’s holding you back. If it’s that you don’t WANT to do it, well… admitting it is the first step. If you don’t know where to start, well there’s this next idea.

Break the elephant into bite-sized chunks. 

Sometimes the reason we procrastinate is the task looks too large and imposing. Often, those tasks are composed of a series of smaller, easily-accomplished tasks. Identify a couple of those components that you can check off and give yourself a psychological win.

Identify tasks that might get in the way.

One reason we put off tackling work is because we have other things we need to do as well. A trick our brain plays is to make those seem more important than they are. Checking a couple of simple tasks off your list often gives us some momentum for the day and we are more ready to tackle the big stuff.

Change your physical location.

This sounds silly but changing your physical surroundings can impact your psychological approach. I do my best “turning on the tap” when I’m walking or doing some menial task that frees my brain up to process.

Hold yourself accountable by scheduling time to work on the task.

You’ve essentially given yourself permission to take the time, and if you have shared calendars you’ve told the world you’re going to be working on it. Accountability is important. Also, block more time than you think it should take.

The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone, even if you work remotely. Get help from teammates or your manager. Talk it out. Identify what the problem is with getting started and take inspiration from wherever you can.

Procrastination is just one hurdle to clear for remote employees. If you want to learn to maximize your productivity as a remote worker, check out this on demand course.


Wayne Turmel--The Remote Leadership Institute

Wayne Turmel
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager

Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.

Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.

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