Working from home can be a dream come true because you have a new-found sense of freedom. You still work, but you get to set your schedule and avoid traffic. You do not have to worry about spending money on a new wardrobe every month, and if you feel like taking a break, you take a break!
However, there is a thin, tiny, almost invisible line between ‘breaks’ and ‘procrastination.’
Your eyes wander, the dishes need cleaning, the TV is just begging you to take the day off, the phone rings, you are suddenly hungry and thirsty…should I go on?
It is normal! It happens to everyone working from home.
Today we are here to hack the process.
You want to ‘take a break’ or procrastinate?
That is perfectly fine. There are many ways to enjoy guilt-free, productive procrastination.
Let’s dive in!
Procrastination is inevitable. Even for the super motivated go-getters, it is unavoidable. But procrastinating does not mean being lazy.
For many people, it simply is a way to clear our mental or physical clutter so they can focus on work. On the surface, when we procrastinate, it appears that we are avoiding important work, and instead choose to do nothing. However, in reality, procrastinators rarely do nothing. They do other things first.
So let’s rebrand this procrastination with ‘building momentum.’
It feels better already, right?
Avoiding big tasks to clean the house is still productive. Paying bills and preparing dinners for the rest of the week is always productive.
Every night before you go to bed, create a list of all your tasks. Place the big, important tasks on the top and work your way down to the smaller obligations. In the morning, start by tackling whatever feels right first.
The trick here is to continue to build these lists, always placing the big, complex tasks on the top. Eventually, one morning you will wake up, and you will begin executing from the top of the list.
Remember, the important thing is to get things done on time. Avoid guilt-tripping yourself and keep building momentum.
When we procrastinate, we usually have something else on our minds.
Maybe we felt the need to socialize a bit, or we started researching a subject, and now we are deep into the rabbit hole and can’t stop.
If you feel that you need to take a break or do something else for a while, try to make it productive. Look for a recipe for dinner, check your inbox, reply to some messages, or pick up a book.
Creativity will unblock your mind and inspire you to get things done.
Decorate your workstation with things that inspire you: a vase, wooden puzzles, souvenirs from your travels, and a few good books.
When the ‘feeling’ kicks in, and you are ready to take a break, grab a book, or solve a puzzle. But try to stay at your desk. Eventually, you will train your mind to need creative boosts, and all those breaks will be replaced with ‘productive, creative time.’
Experiment with ‘Organized’ Procrastination
Yes, it sounds weird, but it works for many people.
What is organized procrastination?
It is an intentional break you will take to only ‘waste’ time. Even if you do not feel like it is break-time yet, take a break. Walk away for a few minutes or creatively use your time. It will prevent burn out, and since you took a break when you did not necessarily need one, you will look forward to getting back to work.
This idea is based on the pillar of reverse psychology. Forcing yourself to take a break when you do not want to take a break will have the opposite effect eventually.
You will start craving less and less breaks.
Take that list you make every night with all the tasks and plug them on a calendar.
After every task, place a break, or put a break in the middle of a task. If you want to adhere to super productive procrastination rules, write down what you will be doing during your break. If you want to read a book, make sure the book is on your desk.
Have you noticed how social media was not mentioned yet?
Well, that is because social media can be very addictive for most people. We tend to lose track of time scrolling for hours sometimes. But avoiding it altogether, especially if you are an active social media user, is not going to solve the problem.
Go ahead, schedule it. Knowing that you will get your social media’ fix’ will allow you to stop thinking about it all the time. If you want to take it a step further, when you use social media, try to speak with friends and catch up instead of scrolling through memes and passive-aggressive status updates.
Are you still looking for guilt-free ways to procrastinate?
Here are some creative ideas to be productively lazy!
- Organize photos, back them up to make sure you will not lose them, create a photo album, and pick some you always wanted to print. Use some of them to decorate your desk when you are done!
- Delete emails and sort your inbox. Create folders and organize your email, so things are easier to find. Go through your contacts and update the list. There is a big chance that you will not know one-third of the people in your address book. Cleaning up your digital space can be just as satisfying as cleaning up your physical area. Just imagine logging in in the morning and seeing a sparkling clean inbox with only a few new emails waiting for your attention!
- Useful information is abundant online. It is tempting to always go for the mind ‘junk’ food, but next time you take a break, check out a TED talk or a short documentary instead. Dare to look up TED talks on procrastination!
- Pick a couple of motivational podcasts and make a habit of tuning in a few times a day to get your mental fuel.
- Organize your desktop. Most of the time, our screen is filled with a lot of useless nonsense. Create folders and store away old data. Leave only what is relevant to your life now. While you are at it, pick a new desktop wallpaper. A bit of a digital renovation can go a long way!
Procrastination does not mean you are lazy or that you are wasting time. We are more than just tasks and work that need to be completed.
Stop feeling guilty about your sneaky delay tactics and instead enjoy your breaks!
Remember that Marthe Troly-Curtin said, “time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”