Your normal structure is gone and without any timeline for zipping out the door (at least not safely), it’s easy for procrastination to set in.
Not only is everyone at home, it’s not temporary. We’re all cramped together ‘til who knows when. That means not only do we face production challenges, many other factors have escalated, creating all sorts of reasons to walk away from work:
- Increased interruptions. Beloved Grandma (Nana, Abuela, etc.), who didn’t even have your work number before, now thinks you’re suddenly available 24/7. “Why haven’t you called? Don’t you think it’s important to talk at a time like this?!” Or your partner figures this is the best time to start cleaning out the garage (your workspace, the basement, etc.) and not only creates a ruckus but may ask for your help or opinion or …
- Welcoming distractions. Normally, you’d set up (and learn to stick to) your schedule, rules, or workspace specifically to avoid easy slides into postponing real work. Now, you easily justify your focus drifting into other tasks; e.g., you’ll get to work right after you’ve washed the dishes, or watched the news, or read your child a story.
- “I’m just catching up.” Time’s flying by…but not on your work. You’re using On Demand to finish catching up on Veep. You’re trolling social media to find the cutest doggie vids, best pot roast recipe ever, or 10 sit-down exercises.
- “I’m not close to deadline.” You start procrastinating, so your work isn’t done. Because your work isn’t on schedule, you’re intimidated, depressed, or anxious. Now you feel overwhelmed and fearful. But while you’re in depression or denial, deadlines keep getting closer. So, what do you do instead of putting fingers to the keyboard? Something like, “Well, I can’t handle this now. I’ll just call Aunt Matilda; she’s fun. I’ll work afterward.” But afterward never comes.
Tips to keep you on track
Assert some rules for yourself and your family:
- Set a work timeslot and tell loved ones you need to focus from 9a-12p and 3p-5p, for instance. And re-emphasize that with every interruption.
- Set a “social media alarm clock.”
For example, access social media only during lunchtime or after the official workday. Set an old-fashioned kitchen timer or a unique alarm on your phone (dog barking, bugle, etc.) to signal when to start and end your time limit.
- Lose the guilt by turning negatives into positives.
Psychologist Alicia Clark says, “If you feel afraid, envision yourself feeling excited, elated, or just simply relieved after you’ve finished the project.”
“Imagine replacing a feeling of failure with a feeling of success.” 1
Building a room with a more positive view
Times are so challenging now that beating yourself up about what you’re not doing only makes things worse. Give yourself strokes for everything you get done, even if it’s as small as, “I outlined that next chapter” or “I set up the document,” or “I’ll do in-home walking during commercials.”
Getting started is the hardest step. Use these ideas for inspiration so that—for a few minutes each day—you can minimize procrastination and achieve that more positive outlook.