The home office.
Working from home. It always sounds so reassuring at first. The mental planning and forward thinking of how one’s day will pan out in the comfort of familiar surroundings is always so optimistic, regardless of previous experiences of serious self-scrutiny and nauseating nervousness as you edge towards a deadline.
Freelancing and distractions.
So meeting freelance journalist and assistant editor Tatiana Regan across a coffee table in Bristol’s Stokes Croft area, I was finally able to apply some practical measures to my debilitating procrastination that always ruined my work day experience.
I am a freelance illustrator. It sounds really nice, doesn’t it? The reality is contrary to the idea of sitting in a light infused studio with a cat sleeping at my heels as I sketch ideas listening to Radio 4. Actually, what I tend to do is anything, other than the very work I am trying to complete.
I tend to work digitally now, owing to the huge benefits of having artwork editable to suit the predictable whims of the client’s amendments. As such this means I am sat in front of a back lit screen for hours at a time whilst knowing that at my fingertips lies the answer to almost any question or query that pops into my head. The curse of the internet. When client emails slip into Facebook messages, in turn to friend’s news feeds with YouTube links and references to articles on media sites serving up our daily dread of times ahead.
¨The very nature of modern day work assignments is that invariably we are reliant on the instrument that is the cause of so much distraction. ¨ No truer word said by Tatiana. But how do we overcome the temptations to pull our attentions elsewhere? Tatiana offered some practical advice.
¨Always have a schedule. Mimic the hours you kept at previous jobs if you must. And as such allow yourself breaks away from the computer, but do it with a mental goal of finishing something first ¨ she started with.
Correcting this statement she also suggested to find somewhere else to work, hence the coffee shop where I met her.
¨Leave the house early, and find a reliably quiet and close place to work¨ she offers.
Understanding that some jobs require a different skill set she goes further to develop a strategy for the week using her google calendar to support this.
¨Highlight in red the hours you need to focus on written work and brainstorming. For practical work, highlight with blue and any admin work, use a yellow to set your hours for that. Now for each colour determine a place that is suitable to carry out those tasks. ¨
She explains that having different spaces encourages different part of your brain’s focus to carry out the work. Having the reminder of the space helps assert the mind into action.
But what about the internet? We use it as life support now and it informs nearly every decision we make. Even the calendar system she utilized earlier requires connecting other devices via the net?
¨Turn it off. It’s not the necessary to have it on all the time.¨ She said, expanding on this rather glib and obvious statement till the point where it actually was basically true. ¨Take what you need from it, write down each task in hand then set yourself a timer to complete each task then turn it off! ¨ She made it sound like an instrument to use for work, which is actually when the penny dropped. That’s exactly what it is!
The joy of trivia.
I really appreciated Tania. Her guidance and clarity gave new hope to my work life and certainly improved my efficiency to meeting deadlines. The only thing I would say, procrastinating afforded me a lot of well-informed trivia that was great for story telling in the pub. Now when I’m there I just think of my Tax Returns.