For many Australians, working from home (or ‘WFH’ as I’ve recently discovered) has and most likely will continue to be the new normal for many months to come. While I’m sure many young professionals would be jumping at the chance to finally get an excuse to ditch the office, enjoy more freedoms and come to ‘work’ in less formal attire, for me when WFH days were suggested, my heart sank a little. Not because I’ll miss seeing my colleagues every day or because I won’t get to fill up on delicious Surry Hills coffee…but because I have one tiny problem…I am a Grade A procrastinator!

Somehow within three days of working at home, I had miraculously found time to bake vegan banana bread, shave my legs, build a puzzle, dust the cabinets and meet my neighbours and their bulldog Max – a range of things I would never do on a daily basis.

For someone like myself, I thrive off structure, routine and accountability. Each day, I love knowing when I need to wake up, what train I need to catch and what tasks need doing. I love having the team around me in the office to ask questions, bounce ideas off and talk to when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Unfortunately, these are not the luxuries one  has when working from home, so instead, I am left finding ways to keep myself accountable and self-motivated.

However, whenever I get tempted to do something crazy like learn how to make gnocchi from scratch (confession – I’ve already found a recipe), here are some tried and tested methods that always help me stay on task.

1.Make a Calendar

While it can often be hard to maintain a strict calendar in PR, especially juggling multiple clients, I lean back on an old studying trick, wherein I write out my calendar (digital or on paper) and block out certain times for work and certain time for breaks.

Realistically, when you’re in the office, no one works dead straight for 8-9 hours. It is usually broken up with office banter, trips to the loo, lunch and coffee runs, etc. For me, I beat my procrastination when I schedule in my work time and my break times – and then stick to them.

2. Set Timers

Following on from the previous point, I unfortunately need to be strict with myself while on breaks, otherwise I will end up down a rabbit hole of online shopping or scanning the depths of Facebook Marketplace. Whenever I have a scheduled ‘break’ in my day, I set myself a timer accordingly, based on what I’m doing.

If I’m scrolling Instagram, I’ll set a timer for 2 minutes. If I’m stopping to eat my lunch, I’ll set the timer for 30 minutes. Giving myself this automated structure is the ideal way to stick to your plan and there’s nothing like a loud alarm to alert you that it’s time to get back to work. 

3. Set Tidying Time

Sometimes you receive an email or task and you will do anything in your power to delay responding! Anything! So much so that you’ll do other tasks you normally procrastinate on, whether it’s the dishes, the laundry or the rubbish. I look to set up a few minutes every morning before work starts to leave the house relatively clean. That means no dishes lying around, my clothes are put away and my desk for the day is neat and tidy.

4. Change Your Lock Screen

A bit unorthodox, but works a charm! When your phone sneakily becomes more than a necessary tool for conference calls, go ahead and change your lock screen image. No, don’t spend hours scrolling through Pinterest screensavers. Instead, put a template on there that reminds you to put your phone down. This could be an image that simply says ‘Don’t Look at Your Phone’ or you could take it to the extreme and make your screensaver a photo of your boss…just as a reminder that they’re always watching 😉

Image result for don't look at your phone screensaver
  • Stay Accountable

This last one is all about being honest with yourself and honest with your boss and colleagues. As much as you’d like to think you’re not a procrastinator, you often know what your biggest temptations are, so list them down and set yourself habits so that you don’t get led astray. If you know neighbour’s noises will be a distraction, block them out with some personal music. If you know you’ll spend 45 minutes trying to choose what to eat for lunch, maybe plan it out in advance. But ultimately, flag any issues with your team and if it gets too hard to keep your distractions at bay, get them to check in on you. For me, daily emails and calls are great way of keeping me on task, so why not ask your team whether you can set up a daily WIP meetings (con call, Zoom or Google hangouts are great) or an update email at the end of the day to your team leader?

There you have it – a guide on how to avoid isolation procrastination, from the true procrastinator herself! Okay, well the calendar says it’s my break time now, so I’m off to make some Gnocchi!

By Agent Emilie