PROCRASTINATION – THE ARTICLE!

Posted on May 18, 2018

Or...  How to do "working from home".

Procrastination prə(ʊ)ˌkrastɪˈneɪʃ(ə)n

noun: The action of delaying or postponing something.

 

Inspirational, tone setting quote

 

"BE wise to-day; ’t is madness to defer; Next day the fatal precedent will plead; Thus on, till wisdom is pushed out of life. Procrastination is the thief of time; Year after year it steals, till all are fled..."

Excerpt from 'Night Thoughts" - Edward Young (1681–1765)

Preamble

If you stick around for the full day of People Power on June the 6th - and I'm confident that you will - I strongly recommend Joshua Riffe's seminar on 'Procrastination'.  It's on at half 3, and for what it's worth, I reckon it'll be one of the liveliest of the options you'll have that afternoon.

The following several hundred words is in no way an attempt to steal thunder from Joshua's half hour...  Frankly, I don't know what he's going to talk about.  However, I've used the lecture topic as a jumping off point for some musings about working from home in particular, and distractions in general.

Perhaps you'll learn something about yourself along the way?  Perhaps you won't.

Either way, enjoy.

Context

I'm no stranger to procrastination.

In normal, everyday life, I will habitually not get around to stuff.  I'll achieve maybe 2 or 3 of the biggies - the essential tasks for the day - mainly as an exercise in keeping my wife off my back.  I'm not using hyperbole there - she will genuinely climb on my back.

But in work, procrastination can be a threat.  Getting caught up in something not incredibly important may blind you to some other terrible risk; or make you miss out on a business opportunity; or an urgent email...

The problems associated with procrastination only get worse if you happen to work in the place with the most distractions imaginable:

Your own house.

 

More Context

I recently started life as a Freelance Copywriter, after having spent years working in internal communications for a major IT company -  One that actually trusted me to work from home.

You see, when you sit in front of a PC, or write things for a living - *coughs* - you don't actually have to physically be anywhere.  Well, you do...  Just not around other people... People who might want things from you, or expect you to be sat in a particular place doing said things.  No - the self employed and the "working from home" must be their own boss; their own time manager.

The Home Worker

In theory, this isn't too taxing.  You just have to drown out all distractions, and then somehow recreate the feeling - or if you're American, the "head space" - of Being at Work.  For the luxury, otherwise office based, home worker, this might present something of a challenge.  I mean... It feels like a sick day, or a day off, but crucially, it isn't.

You might be unshowered; sat in your duds; with 'This Morning' on in the background, but you still have to produce work of a quality indistinguishable from the stuff you knock up in the office.   Failure to do so may curtail any future opportunities to do it again.

The Freelancer

For what Universal Credit dubs the "Gainfully Self Employed", the home office* is all we have.  If you don't manage to adjust, you'll never get anything done.

* Not the home office - as in the ministerial department of Her Majesty's Government, responsible for immigration, security and law and order.  I mean "The office in your house".**

** I wasted time googling a definition of the Home Office there.  That's procrastination.

 

Actual, Practical advice

I find it helps to lock yourself into a particular mode.  Either you're sticking a 30 degree wash on, OR you're correcting the formatting on a web page.  You're NOT doing both.

In order to achieve this clarity of purpose, I do the following:

  1. 1.  Set a timer.  If I need to sit down for an hour, I set a timer for 60 mins; park my backside and get to work.
  2. 2.  Set a timer (again).  If you need to achieve a number of conflicting, equally time demanding tasks, give them a set amount of time each, e.g.  30 minutes here, 20 minutes there, and so on...  It's sort of like time management in an exam (if you remember those).
  3. 3.  Listen to music with the headphones in.  I would never have done any of this when I worked around living human people, as that would be anti-social.  However, left to my own devices, I find that drowning out everything with loud prog rock helps with my Total Immersion in a task...  This only becomes an issue when some inconsiderate person / employer / client rings you and asks for something, but that distraction aside, I stand by this advice.
  4. 4.  Don't switch the Television on: Just leave it off... Go and work in your office.  You've already been to IKEA and bought a desk; you might as well use it.
  5. 5.  Check your inbox regularly!  This might just be me, but it seems easier to take your eye off the prize when at home.

Top 6 List of potential Time Thieves

  1. 1.  Children, the care of
  2. 2.  Household disasters - e.g. Leaks / falling masonry
  3. 3.  Hunger
  4. 4.  Thirst
  5. 5.  Hunger or Thirst of a Third Party, e.g. A cat.
  6. 6.  Passing interest in WWII documentaries / afternoon courtroom based reality programmes

Conclusion

Well there you have it.  Perhaps that gave you pause for thought and a few ideas on how to manage your time.  I certainly hope so.

For more great ideas on procrastination - and the avoidance of it - register for People Power this June and listen to what Joshua has to say.

 

People Power 2018 is on from 09:00 - 16:00 on June 6, at St. James' Park, Newcastle.

 

Tony Clark - Freelance Copywriter (and part of the People Power team)

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