Why do we “get a feeling or craving” for something at a certain time of year? It’s Pavlov at work. These become habits and with habits come expectations.
Not everyone can succeed in working in a home office. The temptation to procrastinate and do non-work stuff is too great. Lone workers don’t have to worry about people watching over their shoulders or Alt-Tab to switch away from the improper web site.
Turn “forcing yourself” to get things done into “habits that make it easy” to get things done in six steps:
- Create a general schedule: This depends on what you do for work. As a writer, my activities are: communications (emails), writing, editing, research, administrative, and interactions. Assign blocks of time for the activities for the day.
- Stick to schedule: I’ve made it a habit to start the day with an email, followed by a blog post (when I do one), and then article writing for the morning. The afternoon is for the tedious, less creative work and social networking (reading blogs, tweets, etc.). I know I don’t function as well in the afternoon as in the morning. I also exercise mid-day.
- Give it time: You won’t have that “feeling it’s time to do something” overnight. It takes 21 days to form a new habit. It works, I promise. When I got into habit of not working due to hand surgery, I thought I’d never get back into work. I did. Just had to push myself to do #2 and it fell into place.
- Work from the same place: If possible, set aside a space for work. I have two places: my little home office and my bed with a laptop (I had back problems plus that’s where I play games for reviewing).
- Handle guilt: You might feel guilty about household chores and other personal activities that we must do, but don’t want to do. Set aside 30 to 60 minutes a day for such activities and do them then. That gets rid of the feelings of guilt and carries you through the day.
- Take a break: Don’t let yourself get carried away with working at your computer all day and eating lunch at your desk. You may feel like you’re on a roll and not tired, but a break revives you. Make this personal chores time, if need be. The physical break gets you moving and your eyes away from the screen. I have a dog, so unless I want her to do her business in my house — I must take a break to walk her. We don’t have a backyard and she refuses to go before walking at least half a block.
Think about the different times of the year. Do you find you crave something or expect something? For example, my family can’t help but crave cake in January with three of us having birthdays this month and one in early February.
I used to play tennis on Saturday and Sunday before I got hurt. It’s going to take time to get back in the mood for it after a long time off plus the cold weather. So I’ll start with one of those days and build back up.
If my routines don’t convince you, maybe these people in Daily Routines will.
Habits can work on an hourly, daily, monthly, and yearly basis. It’s what you make of it. Steps 1 through 4 work for most habits. Pick one thing to turn into a habit and try it.