The telecommuters’ top six smarts to stop procrastinating

Till we get into the zone, most telecommuters procrastinate. By reading ‘how to’ articles like this one (caught you). Transcribing and then whipping up a financier cake with salted caramel icing (guilty). Researching and playing phone shrink to a friend who will turn awkward if you land up unexpectedly at his/her office/home. After all this and more, you can change rapidly to fourth gear and ‘make it to deadline.’ Yes, you do make it to deadline. But totally drained afterwards.

We give such behavior tag lines like ‘creative freedom’ and ‘method to my madness’ and pride on being monks who have sold their Ferrari. But it is those people who value their time and space, say “not now; later,” and prefer to single task that get their day freed up to meet friends, see a movie and get their kids into a good college.

I can see a smirk on the faces of those who work in an office. From personal observations in the corporate world, let me say that holding endless meetings, smoking breaks, gossip in the pantry, calling your spouse or girl/boy friend from the washroom and minimizing Farmville screens and cricket scores are official forms of procrastinating.

So here are my top six smarts for telecommuters to start earning and stop procrastinating.

  •  Best time. Know your body clock. This is why you are telecommuting, remember? The reason you left the corporate world, endless strategy meetings and swiping your entry card. Or vice versa with your belongings in a box. Work with your personality and body slumps. You will see a dramatic rise in the quality of your work. For instance, I am overcome by an irresistible food-induced stupor after lunch wherein my brain fails to recognize any pattern, sound or object known to man. Unless I am at a conference (and even then). Nothing works. My editors and clients know that I am not ‘mentally available’ between two and four pm. However, I write very well at night and can stay up to 2 or 3 am without tiring. I prefer meetings first thing in the morning or after 5 pm. I also need my elevenses. Understanding your body clock makes the difference between forcing yourself to work and easily slipping “into the zone” because you are ready. This makes a happier telecommuter who has real time for friends and family. And bills getting paid on time.
  • Three top priorities. Now plan three top work priorities for the day. No more. No less. Write them out and place them next to your laptop. Slot them around your best times. The difficult part for any telecommuting procrastinator is to ‘Get into the zone.” But once they do, they are far more productive and work longer than most people who are ‘physically’ in an office.
  • Noon replies. Do you start the day replying to almost all your mails? Instead start with a good breakfast, sit at your work space and leave mails for lunch time. This saves vast tracts of time, especially, when you charge by the hour or day. Facebook is allowed when you take your elevenses break. Or after lunch. Or between your fav soap.
  • Phone calls. Yes, you have a kind heart and your friends love you. But if you are on deadline, sms and let your friend/ex-colleague know. Request them to ‘sms back if urgent.’ Keep your ‘zone times’ as sacred. If this seems cruel, try calling the same person with your own problems during work hours. Or call your homemaker friends when they have guests in town. Enjoy the rude satori, which will teach you how much other people respect their time. Even your best friends.
  • Zone alert. Find three places at home. Places next to television, the fridge and the bed are ruled out. For obvious reasons. If cramped for space, just reorient your desk where you see a window or blank wall. Or go to a coffee shop where you find your work output is maximum; where time flies and you look up to see that people are now ordering lunch..
  • No OCD. Above all, stop pretending that you now love housework or tidying your work desk. Good escape route but we all know what happens when you start to clean out that closet and discover something you forgot. Or your writing desk. The rule is “if it aint broke, don’t fix it.’  If you get the urge to escape, start by invoicing your clients. Or make a call to an old business contact just to say hi. People do appreciate it when you call without an agenda.

 Of course, there are many more ways. But if you are a typical telecommuting procrastinator – a seventh rule will make you exhausted and leave this page. Instead, reward yourself with a walk around the home and block. Telecommuting can get a bit lonely at times. So take time to smell the flowers and hear the birds. That is why you sold the Ferrari, you clever soul.


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