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prolificus's avatar

For those who have a "work-at-home" situation, what positive (read: non-fear-tactical, non-punishing) tips and tricks do you have to ensure you stay accountable to your responsibilities?

Asked by prolificus (6525 points ) May 17th, 2010

Almost 2–4 hours a day I have the luxury of working from home. Unfortunately, I have a horrible habit of procrastinating. Part of my procrastination comes from knowing it only takes a few minutes to do certain tasks. Mostly, it takes me 10–20 minutes to do each task. It feels like a waste of time to do 2–4 short tasks within 2–4 hours, so I let things stockpile with the thought I’ll do better if I am making the most of my time (by squeezing 5–10+ tasks into 2–4 hours). The problem is, this doesn’t work. Days of stockpiling turn into weeks, and before I know it, I’m significantly behind in my work. This result is depressing and frustrating because I am a mindful personal who wants to do her best.

Even though I work with people when I’m not at home, social interaction is limited. This is depressing, too. I thrive working with others, in a team or group project situation (even if the group works individually, not together at the same time). Also, I do not get built-in, on-going feedback. I know I can provide my own feedback, but it feels better and more encouraging when I am part of something bigger than my little world. (I do have other forms of supervisory feedback, but it is feels insufficient.)

Let me be very clear, I do love my job; however, it requires certain self-disciplines in which I struggle. (Side note: As I think and write this question, I’m wondering if I truly love my job. When I really love something I am doing, I can work tirelessly at it.) If changing jobs is not an option for the next several years, how can I take a positive approach to motivating myself to work during my “work-at-home” hours?

Any suggestions?

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14 Answers

The_Idler's avatar

Set yourself targets. Write them down on a piece of paper, with the time/date they WILL be completed by.

SamIAm's avatar

What about treating yourself to something you like before you start, then work for a little while – get some of your 2–4 tasks done – then reward yourself with something else that you love or another treat. But only allow yourself that second treat if you get your stuff doneee. Or, try doing 2 tasks instead of 4… and gradually do more each day? To do lists are great too, there’s a great sense of accomplishment when you check off what you’ve done!

prolificus's avatar

My boss thinks I have an obsession with organizing stuff instead of actually completing tasks. I have more methods of creating “to do” lists than I care to admit. (Maybe I should get a job as a project organizer.)

@The_Idler – I like post-it notes. Maybe colorful ones would help with this suggestion of yours.

@Samantha_Rae – Hmm. New excuses to eat ice cream? :-) I like the idea of doing a portion of tasks at a time – doing 1 instead of 2, 2 instead of 4. Thanks.

jaytkay's avatar

Don’t fuq it up, you will lose the privilege. Oh, wait, that’s fear-based.

…social interaction is limited. This is depressing, too. I thrive working with others, in a team or group project situation (even if the group works individually, not together at the same time). Also, I do not get built-in, on-going feedback…

If it’s appropriate, talk to co-workers on the phone as much as possible. You get exposure – they know you’re working. You get reassurance – they are paying attention to you. Just like any job, if you quietly work along people may forget about you.

I used to know the absolute work-from-home world champion. After surgery she was working from home. Three months into the gig, I mentioned to a co-worker that Betsy had been out of the office for three months. He didn’t believe me. “I just talked to her yesterday!”

Be like Betsy. If you are good at it, working from home can be a really sweet deal.

prolificus's avatar

@jaytkayNice way to sneak in negative motivation! =P Seriously, though, I agree that more interaction with my co-workers would be helpful. I don’t think talking on the phone would be a popular solution with them, though. I could be wrong. Heck, they could be talking to each other and excluding me all the time without me knowing it! Maybe some sort of online collaboration tool could help – to check in and support each other. All of us are supposed to check in at the end of every day with the boss via email, but that is not at all a motivator!

SeventhSense's avatar

Hunger and fear of homelessness is a great motivator for me.

jaytkay's avatar

they could be talking to each other and excluding me all the time without me knowing it!

Guaranteed, without talking, both sides will make wrong assumptions about what the other side is up to.

I didn’t mean to sneak in the negative, but seriously – doing a good job so they LIKE having you work from home is a positive incentive.

perspicacious's avatar

None. I don’t work very much and pretty much do it when I feel like it. Isn’t that nice?

LuckyGuy's avatar

I wear a ball cap that I pull down to block the view outside. I also put on a pair of 1.0 reading glasses that focus my eyes on my pc. It reduces distractions – like blinders on a horse.
I also turn off my browser. That eliminates another time suck.

jaytkay's avatar

And @worriedguy reminds me of physical solutions
—Shower & get dressed, observe the company dress code
—Music on headphones works like blinders for me
—Desk and chair required, no working on the laptop on the sofa, etc.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I’m a major list person. Whenever I have tasks that I have to do, I make a list. Just having a list of things I need to do is enough motivation for me to get them done.

YARNLADY's avatar

The only tasks I have at home are the ones I assign myself, so I usually get the ones that are important to me and my family first, and if I have time, I might do other things.

CMaz's avatar

Wait till the last min.

s321scba's avatar

-You could try finding something you are motivated to do more strongly (like eating, sleeping, tv show, or even going to the bathroom) and set up a kind of credit system with your self (example, 1 task per meal) i suggest keeping it simple try to keep track in your head, also only give yourself credit for the next “prize”, you can work ahead or the systems more likely to collapse by furthering you from your desire for the prize
-Another good one is competition (your tasks=x# of others tasks, like homework or miles ran) you could try with work colleagues or someone else in your house or neighborhood common interaction helps especially if you think winning should be easy
-Habits are formed from what we do, a lot of the time, the more often you do something the more likely you are to do it
-Avoid taking it too seriously

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