Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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7 Ways to Overcome Procrastination When Working From Home


Everything is taking longer.  As we work from home surrounded by distractions, we wear masks when running errands, we are sanitizing even the smallest items brought into the house, and our inbox has exponentially increased.  Our personal and professional lives are merged and our lives seem focused on the ever-increasing list of things we have to do.  When the list seems endless, we may have moments of “why bother?” which leads to procrastination.

Even when we are motivated, it seems like tasks are taking longer and more effort to complete, which further slows things down and takes a toll on productivity.

If we can improve one aspect, we can get some momentum and start moving forward.  Here are 7 ways to overcome procrastination and boost productivity.

1. Limit Screen Time

By being home, it’s easy to be constantly on the phone, TV, or laptop.  I know of lots of people who work in front of one computer with another computer next to it, use dual monitors, or work in front of the TV.  Not only is having too much screen time dangerous for your health, but when you reduce it, you may be able to improve focus.

2. Take a Walk

Moving your body is important to not only our physical health, but also our mental health. We know even short walks increase cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, decreases joint and muscular pain, strengthens bones, increases muscle strength, and reduces body fat.

Taking a walk also improves energy, so we feel less inclined to procrastinate.

3. Keep Your Space Organized

When we have a lot of tasks piling up, we can feel a sense of overwhelm.  Molehills turn into mountains.  Keeping our workspace organized helps us keep our minds organized.  This Reader’s Digest article shows how some household chores are actually therapeutic, and can help you feel a sense of accomplishment while contributing to a clean space.

4. Schedule Time for Yourself

Make sure you take the time to do some activities that make you happy.  Even 15 minutes a day can make a difference.

Most people then ask, “How do I find time for myself?”

A few suggestions:

  • Just say no to activities that sap energy, time and resources. If a social event, even if it is virtual, feels like a chore, it may be time to decline.
  • Fix it, file it, or dump it. Have a goal handle each piece of paper just once.  Pay bills right away, handle forms, and either read or toss articles right away.
  • Manage your email. I use my D.I.C.E. method for the hundreds of emails I get every day.  Train your people to help you sort your email by using the D.I.C.E. method.  In the subject line, ask the sender to task you with one of these action words: Decide, Information, Coordinate, or Execute.  That tells you what you need to do with the email, which makes it easier for you to sort it.
  • Stop doing what is not necessary. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you have to.

“Do you really need to wash the car every week? Does your garden have to be 100 percent perfect?’ asks Gladeana McMahon, co-director of the Center for Stress Management. “Look at your weekly tasks and see if you can trim them back, then spend the extra time gained doing something healthy like going for a walk.”

5. Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan

Create a schedule and stick to it.  Habits and routines are especially important during times of stress.  Having set hours for specific work, breaks, meals, and free time creates expectations and accountability while managing time.

6. Make To-Do Lists

If you know you have work that you need to get down, write it all down in a task list.  I love check boxes next to each task so that when I’m finished, I can check the box.  And I am not the only one.  According to Lauren Marchese’s April 2019 article How Checklists Train Your Brain To Be More Productive And Goal-Oriented, “When we experience even small amounts of success, our brains release dopamine, which is connected to feelings of pleasure, learning and motivation. When we feel the effects of dopamine, we’re eager to repeat the actions that resulted in that success in the first place.” So checking things off of our list makes us happier and encourages us to do even more.

7. Take A Moment of Silence

When our minds are running a million miles per hour with everything we have to do, we can feel distracted and discouraged. Take a moment to recenter and set some goals. This will help you take leaps forward and boost productivity.

It’s time to stop procrastinating on saying no to procrastination. 


  1. Steve Shambach

    Mary, Your stuff is always so good. Thanks for sending! Timely, too!

    • Mary Kelly

      Thank YOU for reading and for your feedback, Steve!


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