The Procrastinators Guide to Working from Home.
At the moment, so many people are finding themselves working from home and have found that working from home has zero routine. Getting up early is a struggle and let’s not mention the kids, constant distractions and the freedom of having no one looking over your shoulder to see if you are working. As a result, it is easy to procrastinate. Luckily, there are people who work from home all the time. So how do they do it? Well here are five tips on how to work effectively from home, by resetting your mind and planning to procrastinate.
Just like you set your alarm to wake you, you need to set your mind to get up, wake up and go to work. What I have found is you need to kick your mind into gear. I like to jog in the morning but if I don’t get my shorts, top and shoes ready the night before, my mind won’t be set for a jog. Likewise, if you take out a shirt, slacks and shoes or dress, blazer and trousers before going to bed, when you wake you see your clothes ready for the new day of work. It’s like telling your mind, “we’re going to the office,” even though it’s only the room next door. Your mind won’t fight you to stay in bed or snooze and will feel ready for a day’s worth of work. Other tricks, like having a coffee or lunch at the same time as you would when at the office help you stay focused.
Make a list. Said every organisation and planning professional ever. But when does making a list actually work? You never finish everything on the list, or constantly underestimate the amount of time tasks will take and even forget you made the list in the first place. If you have mastered making lists and sticking to them then kudos to you. However, for others it only helps build the feeling of inferiority at your own inability to follow simple instructions.
You may need to experiment to find a ‘list making technique’ that works best for you. Some people say that making a list with only six things on it and then starting with the hardest item is the best option. This does make you feel good, as completing the most difficult item first gives you a real sense of accomplishment. Another way is to start with the easiest item and work your way up to the hardest. This means you get lots done quickly and can make you feel very productive. Another way is to make a list with six tasks in rows of three, one for the morning and one for the afternoon. Split each one into easy, medium and hard tasks. Start with the hardest in the morning and finish on the easiest task before lunch. Repeat after lunch, starting with the hardest task and ending on the easiest. If you prefer to do it the other way around then do.
Honestly, this works for me and helps to break the day up. Instead of having a long list I have two short lists. However, this might not work for everyone. At the end of the day, what ever works for you is best for you. These are just suggestions, but I know making and keeping to lists is a habit and will take time to master.
One thing I can recommend when making a list is to write down why each task is a priority. The ‘why’ can help you feel motivated to do the work. When there is a reason attached to something it gives it meaning in your life, so it’s not just words on a page.
#3 Focus blocks.
If you are like me and you get easily distracted by your phone, or the need to tidy your room, or get 2 - 3 cups of tea before you are ready to work then this might help you get work done fast!
Set a timer for 30 minutes and pick a task. Then for 30 minutes, focus only on that task until it is done or the timer runs out. This does require some self-discipline to stay on task but can help to develop focus over time. After 30 minutes of work take 10 minutes to do nothing, go outside into the garden, read a book, go on Facebook and let your mind be distracted. After 10 minutes get back to work and focus for 30 minutes again. You can also extend your times to 60 minutes if you feel 30 minutes will be too disruptive. After 60 minutes of work give your brain 15 - 20 minutes of chill time.
Planning to procrastinate can help your mind to focus and be rewarded for its hard work. It will help you if you ever feel you’re not focused enough.
#4 Overestimate your tasks
If you are planning tasks for the day, split them into lists and assign how much time it will take. Always overestimate how long something will take. Using the focus block formula, if I think a task will take about an hour, then I might add an extra hour and a half on to this task. This means if I should have 4 blocks where I focus for 30 minutes and 3 breaks of 10 minutes in-between.
This should give enough time to complete the work and also gives time to procrastinate.
#5 Flake Day
This idea is similar to planning to procrastinate, except it focuses on an entire day of doing nothing. If you work in an office and have weekends off this might not be as applicable to you because you are used to switching off at the weekends. However, for those of you who work at home consistently and never switch off, you could be in danger of burn out or in my case, as a designer, could end up with creative block.
I always have a day for doing nothing or mostly nothing, usually in the evening. I might block out 5-6 hours for gaming or a catch up with friends. I recommend spending time with your partner or kids and doing something to take your mind off work. For creative thinkers it’s great to have one day each week to indulge your mind in cartoons, Netflix, books and games. It stimulates your creativity and helps you be more innovative. This works well for anyone, not just creative professionals. Ideas can come from anywhere and having a day to flake out and do what you enjoy can only be beneficial.
Planning to procrastinate can seem like an unproductive tactic but if you find it difficult to stay concentrated or have ADHD or ADD, then constantly giving your mind time to be distracted can help your focus. It’s like reverse psychology, and anything that works to keep people with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) like myself focused then it should work for you “normal” folk. Getting dressed as if you’re going to work, setting a list that isn’t overwhelming and giving reason to each task on the list will help your mind focus for the day.