Leaping over the lag
September 8, 2017 12:31 AM   Subscribe

What are the best ways to get to working immediately, whether it be at the office or at home?

I tend to need a long time to really get into the swing of work/chores. I dawdle over internet-y stuff. Even at home, I'll laze around for 70% of the weekend and then do everything in a mad burst of energy/activity/concentration. Once I start working it's easy enough to keep working, but the beginning sometimes feels next to impossible. Are there ways to trick my brain into switching to work/chores mode at a specified time? All tips appreciated. Thanks!
posted by Nieshka to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
posted by O9scar at 2:24 AM on September 8 [3 favorites]

When I was in grad school and had unstructured time for writing where I didn't have to 'get to the lab,' I found that changing into "work clothes" as if I had to go into the lab/office helped me establish a work mindset.

Like, wake up at 7, do normal coffee/news/shower/change routine. Start about 8 (instead of head out the door for the bus at 8). In that situation, usually gave myself a 10-10:30 recess to goof off, then took lunch at 12:30/1.

Key was to groom and put on clothes as if I needed to leave home, even if I didn't need to step out my door.
posted by porpoise at 2:24 AM on September 8 [4 favorites]

Leave a small thing unfinished, so that it's perfectly clear where to start
posted by thelonius at 2:50 AM on September 8 [4 favorites]

I am a procrastinator extraordinaire, when it comes to chore-y stuff! Here are a few things that work for me:
a) Timer method (aka Pomodoro as above)
b) Prohibit myself from doing anything non-task related until I've accomplished something on my list. e.g., if the Friday night dishes are still on the counter Saturday morning, I'll do them before I have a leisurely breakfast. That way, I can really enjoy making my breakfast and coffee in a clean kitchen and read the paper without a towering dish stack glaring at me.
c) Tackle the biggest/worst thing first
d) Prioritise the must-dos (e.g., really fiddly administrative tasks at work that other people depend on will get done first so no one is asking about x, y, or z). I also will do something like start the laundry and then give myself some down time while it's in the wash (a la Pomodoro).
e) Similarly, I try to combine tasks so it feels more efficient and less chore-like. e.g., Walk the dog while also returning library books and going to post office. Or, reviewing patient results at work, which can be tedious, I do together with a work buddy so we can chat and catch up.
f) Let myself vegetate. I work really hard and sometimes I just need downtime. The demands of constant productivity these days are, I think, not necessarily the best, so if I'm tired, I can just rest. (Obviously, this is more applicable at home than work, but YMMV depending on your career). If I'm parked on the couch for a few hours and avoiding dusting/vacuuming/billpaying/etc., it's often for a good reason. Similarly, let your downtime really be your downtime. Which means while you're doing internet-y stuff at home, no checking your work email. Or when you're taking your lunch break at work, go for a walk away from your building. When I eat at my desk (or even in the staff room), I'm inevitably asked work-related stuff, so I never get to really turn off that part of my brain. That tends to make me more agitated during my work day, which carries over into my home life.
posted by stillmoving at 4:33 AM on September 8 [2 favorites]

Pomodoro is absolutely the answer. I use the technique every day. I use the timer on my phone to set intervals of 45 minutes working to 15 minute breaks for my everyday routine tasks. If I have an overwhelming amount of work to do on one project that I'm avoiding, I use 15 minute work sessions and 10 minute breaks. You will be surprised at how much you can get done in 15 minutes of total focus. And most of the time, after the initial first or second work session, I don't need the break times because I'm in the flow of the project.
posted by raisingsand at 6:40 AM on September 8 [1 favorite]

You need a PLAYLIST.

If I put the right music on, it gives me a proper energy boost and I can smash chores like a duracel bunny.

If you are on spotify, I have a playlist I made for this exact purpose that might be a good start, pinch tunes from it and start your own!
posted by greenish at 8:44 AM on September 8 [4 favorites]

Pomodoro is good, but my struggles with getting started in the first place were best dealt with by leaving myself a list the night before of stuff to do as soon as I sat down. There are certain tasks that are kinda mindless but will still get me focused enough to get the blood flowing.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:51 AM on September 8

A recent trick I found that works for me is assigning myself a task ("I'm going to work on my resume tomorrow morning") then not thinking about it. The more I think about it, the more my brain wanders down a road of excuses ("Well, I'll work on it after I look at some stuff on YouTube" "I'll just catch up on Facebook before I do it" "I can always work on it the next day, it's not that important right now"). If I can successfully set a goal, and not think about the goal until it's time to start, I have much better success at actually doing what I plan on doing when I planned to do it. The action becomes automatic, because I haven't given my chance to explain why it shouldn't be automatic.
posted by violetish at 9:33 AM on September 8 [1 favorite]

There are apps that you can set up on your devices to disable the internet for specific times that you know you will need to do chores. You can also block specific sites (ie FB, your email, etc) at the router level at specific times.

Not having the temptation, or at least having a hoop to jump through to gain access, may kickstart your do-chores-now state since you won't have the easy option of fiddling around online.
posted by ananci at 9:44 AM on September 8

For getting started, what works for me is writing or talking about what I'm going to do. It can be as simple as making a list of what I intend to accomplish or telling someone else my plans. It bridges the gap between "I'm thinking about and doing other things" and "I'm fully engrossed in this new thing."
posted by tofu_crouton at 12:45 PM on September 8

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