First, let me say that I live and die by my deadlines. This isn't about missing deadlines. This is about taking entirely too long to meet them along the way.
If I could write straight through without getting blocked and without procrastinating, I could probably manage to work about 10 hours a week. However, that would also mean I was a wizard. So instead, I work many more hours and break up the struggle to get words on the page in a number of creative ways. Here are my 13 favorite.
- Social media. Obviously, right? Really, just the Internet in general. There's just so much there. It's an ever ending supply of entertainment.
- Podcasts. Man, I love podcasts. I know that is a completely unoriginal thing to say these days, but I really do. And, in case you were wondering, no matter how much you convince yourself that you can write an article while listening to a podcast in the background, you absolutely cannot. (Current obsession: The Black Tapes Podcast)
- Looking for more work. This is completely counterintuitive - why am I looking for more work while avoiding the work I already have? - but it is also one of my main methods of procrastination, probably because I still feel productive when I do it.
- Calling my best friend. My best friend and I talk on the phone every day around 2:30. She has a much more adult schedule than I do, so I usually wait for her to call me, but I get impatient if she doesn't and then I call her. I count on this interruption to break up my work day, no matter how busy I may be.
- Doing the dishes. One thing no one told me about working from home was how many more dishes it would create. You wouldn't think eating just one more meal in my house would make such a difference, but it really does. Rare is the time of day when I don't have at least a few dishes I could do and it's often a good reason to get up from my desk.
- Budgeting. I probably do and redo our budget at least twice a week. Or I go over my freelance taxes spreadsheet or check the due dates on our bills or plan out the next month of spending. Sometimes it calms me. Sometimes it does the opposite.
- Reading. I like to tell myself that this doesn't count as avoiding work because reading makes me a better writer, so really it's just like taking a training course.
- Walking my dog. Some days, when I'm really feeling stuck, he gets a walk every hour on the hour. It makes us both happy.
- Meal planning/Grocery list making. I am someone who LOVES grocery shopping. I like looking at recipes, planning out what ingredients I need, and then organizing my shopping list by the aisles in the grocery store.
- Online window shopping. My wardrobe has become considerably minimized since I started working from home. I just can't justify buying many clothes, but I still like to look.
- Journaling. I keep a couple different types of journals for various purposes. Taking a break to do some stream of conscious writing that only I will ever see often does the trick to get my head back in the game.
- Eating. If I'm already trying to take my lunch break at 11:00, I know it's going to be a long day.
- Blogging. Can you tell?
Next time a client ask why I prefer not to bill hourly for specific article assignments, I think I'll just refer them to this list. It's in both of our best interests, trust me.