By now we're all feeling a bit of COVID fatigue. The more social of us are certainly feeling the walls closing in when we don't leave our homes for work. Some people know they won't be going back to a physical location anytime soon. And while that might not be the end of the world there is one nagging problem that has to be addressed for those at aren't exactly… shall we say… self-motivators.
When this whole work from home thing started a lot of people had no idea what to expect and there was certainly no shortage of articles explaining how to overcome a lack of supervision and interaction with coworkers. Probably written by freelancers like many of you and me that have worked from home and the road for many years if not an entire career.
By now it's been several months, and the procrastinators are being separated from the… ah… well… people that get shit done. Now calm down, if that made you that angry because you manage to get things done then you just proved my point. You know you put things off or it wouldn't have triggered you.
You DO work hard, and you aren't trying to get away with anything other than doing a good job and keeping that job. It's just hard to get motivated some days. Then there are the days that you'd rather do anything than your job… for a lot of reasons we won't go into.
Working from home should have been a dream come true but you are not exactly handling it well because the office or workplace had you regimented into a major rut where you go into the office, work, get feedback, screw around, work some more and so on. Now at home you are doing the same thing except for one little detail… you are screwing around more instead of working.
This leads to panic when deadlines approach and you thought office deadlines were stressful! These work from home deadlines are killers because you have little to no idea where others are at in their assignments even with regular video meetings. This is another overlooked aspect of working from home that many are acutely aware of now.
It's no so much not having a boss over your shoulder or in the same building as it is not having that office routine that produced viable results on or before deadlines. The lack of interaction just makes it all worse and now you dread deadlines.
As a freelancer, I have worked from home for over twenty years. It has been a blessing and at first a curse until I finally got my productive mojo back and started enjoying my work instead of dreading progress or deadline meetings.
For me, it was a simple matter of self-discipline. I have always been someone that needed little supervision but that didn't mean I didn't procrastinate when I first started working from home. The whole sleep in thing was way over-hyped for me. After a few months of that, I was over that “perk” and looking to get some structure back in my daily routine.
Whether you do it all at once or a little each day… you have to do it and you have to it on a regular basis. Doesn't matter when the work is done. It doesn't have to be from 9 to 5. It just has to be one every workday to be successful.
Also, early on at least for me, I had to stop working in my pajamas, so to speak. and make an effort to dress regularly. It was something steady in an unsteady time. Something I could rely on. I wasn't exactly dressing up to office standards, but I was groomed and ready for work. This was important to me, so you have figure out what is important to you to move forward.
At first, I was 9 to 5 then over time I came to realize that all I had to do was schedule a certain amount of work during that 24-hour period and get at least that minimal amount of work done. Before long, the pressure was off. Not just lower or tolerable but gone. And most days I worked far over the minimum I had scheduled which kept me ahead of the plan. This also meant I had time to solve problems instead of panicking over a deadline when something went south.
Remember a golden rule… there is always time to panic. That doesn't mean you should panic first! The more you are prepared the less panic is involved.
If I needed to get certain props or characters rigged then I would go about my day doing other things knowing I had allotted enough time that day to complete enough of the task to stay on top of it. It might be the afternoon or evening or even the wee hours, but mornings were mine and still are. Mine to savor on the deck with a cup of coffee with no work-related stress.
Scheduling to stay on top of things is a big deal when working at home and doing so will allow you to make progress, maintain your sanity and relationships while being as productive as you were at the workplace. Who knows… you may even improve your output.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.