Did I mention I’m freelancing? (or, coping strategies from the dining room desk)

So, I don’t remember whether I specifically told you or not, but I’ve just gone out to work on my own.

A freelance what, I’m not exactly sure.. I’m hoping to continue to do what I’ve been doing for a while now – design/user research and user centred design (including information architecture and interaction design), but some other interesting opportunities are out there too… All good fun.

What this means is that I get to work from home quite a bit and am more or less entirely responsible for getting stuff done, or not. Both of these present great challenges for someone who is – I’ll admit it – a bit of a procrastinator.

Fortunately this is not my first stint as a freelancer, and I’ve developed some tactics over the years that have proved a godsend in getting work done and not letting it drag out forever.

My number one favourite technique is called ‘structured procrastination‘ and here’s how it works. You’ve got a to do list. It’s reasonably long. Make sure it’s got ALL the things you should be doing or should have done on it. Then, attempt to tackle the task you think you *should* be doing. You may have some success, but if you are like me, this is a task that you’re probably doing ahead of time and the lack of adrenaline makes it less compelling than it could be. Rather than just surfing the internet or doing something even less constructive – go to your list and pick something else on the list to do.

The strange thing is that, when you feel you *should* be doing something else (let’s call it your primary task) all of the other tasks on your list suddenly start looking sooooo much more appealing.

I find that whilst procrastinating about my primary task, I manage to plough through a pile of things that I didn’t think I’d get to for quite a while.

Sooner or later, my primary task re-engages me, or it moves from being the primary task to a secondary task which – you guessed it, makes it more appealing all of a sudden.

I know I’m not the only person who uses this technique, and it’s not one I made up myself. I’m not sure how universal it is – but if you’re getting desperate, give it a try and see how you go.

Do you have any foolproof procrastination busting techniques?

(Oh, and yes. I’m interested in hearing from you if you’ve got an interesting project – email me at leisa(dot)reichelt(at)gmail(dot)com)

5 Responses to “Did I mention I’m freelancing? (or, coping strategies from the dining room desk)”

  1. Joshua Porter August 29, 2007 at 6:20 pm #

    Love it! There is a name for what I do…structured procrastination!

    :)

  2. Adam August 29, 2007 at 11:45 pm #

    Yeah, I do that: The less important stuff first thing.

    My other technique is to open a text document and type why I don’t want to do the thing I’m procrastinating about.

    Somehow pointing out the negatives makes it easier to find the positives. And usually I’m procrastinating because I want to do the task perfectly from the very outset without any effort.

    Typing a perfectly imperfect version makes me feel so much better.

    Does that make any sense?!

  3. Grant August 30, 2007 at 6:19 am #

    Definitely hearing ya on the todo list front.

    I’d love to chat about having you help us out at Digital Eskimo – so if ever you’re back in Sydney for more than a holiday, lemme know…

  4. Stephanie Booth September 11, 2007 at 8:20 am #

    Not sure if your blog takes pings — I’ve posted my lengthy reply on my blog: http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/09/11/dealing-with-procrastination/

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  1. Dealing With Procrastination at Climb to the Stars (Stephanie Booth) - September 11, 2007

    [...] In her post about going freelance, Leisa Reichelt tells us of her favorite method for fighting procrastination: [...]