Hi, all. I want you to know that there are approximately 843 things I would rather be doing than writing this article. It’s nice outside, so there’s all that stuff – walking, running, bicycling, bird-watching, sunbathing, boating, staring at people who are boating, etc. It’s also nice inside, which means I could be reading or watching a movie or taking a nap or playing the drums that are currently calling me from my basement. Hit me! they scream. And I want to. I want to very much.
And it’d be the easiest thing in the world. I don’t have a boss standing over my shoulder, or coworkers to wander into my office and notice that I’m not being productive. There’s literally no one to force me to be useful today. Millions of people have that privilege, but it’s a dubious privilege. The temptation to not work is constant, and it’s definitely alluring.
But we have to work. So here are a few things I do to make sure I keep my business moving forward, and hopefully they’ll be useful for you as well.
Maybe it’s just that I’m a slave to cultural norms, but I find it extremely difficult to want to do anything productive when I’m not wearing pants. All of us are affected by our physical environments, and that includes the physical environment of our own bodies. If you wander around all day looking like you just rolled out of bed, you’re going to have a harder time powering through tasks than if you have breakfast, shower, put on decent clothes, and act like you have a real job.
Take Frequent Breaks
This is a massive failing of ‘real’ jobs. All of us – every single one of us – occasionally runs into a wall where we are pretending to work but aren’t actually accomplishing anything; or worse, we’re busying ourselves with unimportant tasks so that we look busy. It’s far better to accept what your brain is telling you and take a short break to clear your head and gear yourself up for the next burst of activity.
Make Phone Calls
This is critical, I think, for anyone who works alone. We are social creatures, and the only technology that really comes close to replicating the experience of being around others is the telephone. Email and IM and texting simply can’t give us the same depth of connection. If you’re struggling to find the motivation to work today, it could be because you’re sick of feeling like you’re doing it all alone. So call a colleague and talk shop for a while. Just the sound of another human being might be all that you need.
And look at that! I got this thing finished, which means I can go do whatever I want now! Except that, no I can’t. I have more stuff to do.
I think I’ll call someone. Or maybe I’ll just take 7 minutes for myself and then get back to it. That should be enough time for me to find some pants.