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  • Writer's pictureHelen Froggett-Thomson

When the going gets tough... tips for getting going

1. Be strict with yourself!

Start work whenever you are expected to (via a work directive) or when you feel comfortable and prepared for the day ahead. I would suggest that this is not later than 10am.

And make sure you’ve showered, or at least dressed and the guide here is 'do I look ok enough not to be embarrassed on a skype call'!​

2. Start writing lists.

Plan your work load and priorities the evening before so you can sit down and start without procrastinating.

If you're not used to list creation, simply do a 'brain dump' - recommended if your head's spinning. Then when it's all down on paper - might take a while and expect to think of things after you thought you've finished - you can then look at the various tasks when they written down, maybe put them on post it notes so you can rearrange. Or write numbers next to them in terms of priority.

Usually there's three main categories of tasks,

  • urgent and important,

  • urgent and not important,

  • important and not urgent.

You would probably be best prioritising urgent and important. Some urgent tasks are quick and you can get them out of the way, and some of the important ones are good to start (as you perhaps can't do them all in one go anyway) and come back to them as you need to. Otherwise if you don't start, they might end up in the urgent and important list and that's going to skew your planning if you're always fire fighting.

3. Recognise procrastination and deal with it head on

If there’s a task you are putting off, notice it and then ask yourself why. Usually a clue is that there's tasks which seem to get transferred from day to day! You perhaps don't have the right information. Or don't like the thought of it.

Consider how you are going to start the project. If that is unclear, it’s a supervision issue, perhaps you need more information from your line manager about the context or outcomes needed. Get in touch with your manager as soon as you can.

However, sometimes the task seems to be too big and too boring. In which case breaking it up into say, half hour blocks is the best way to proceed. It's surprising how often once you’ve started it, you’re in the flow and it’s not as terrible as you expected.

3. Expect and handle distractions proactively

  • Give yourself a routine.

  • Start work at a specific time. However, it's not quite as easy as that is it!? this might be a familiar scenario. You get an interesting email, DM or a notification, end up on facebook, twitter or in your newsfeed, following links down  a rabbit hole and don’t surface for a couple of hours. Informed with the current state of affairs but having not done any work...Self loathing just around the corner.

  • Unless you have a will of iron, build this 'weakness' into your schedule.

  • If you start before nine, you can scroll away to your heart’s content.​The best way to try to prevent this is to turn off push notifications on your laptop.

4. Reward yourself with scrolling and 'free time' - 'Know thyself'

Find out what works for you. There's nothing wrong with old fashioned reward systems. Go into your various fave portals at specific times, as a ‘treat’. As in, you’ve done two hours, now it’s coffee time.

I really would recommend setting your phone alarm for breaks. We all have our ideal length of time for concentration. Learn to find yours and work with it rather than against it.

If you are keen to have a longer section of ‘free time’, perhaps consider, armed with your measurable objectives for work outcomes (otherwise known as what you need to do, by when!), starting early and finishing at 2pm or something like that? Or starting at midday – if that’s feasible – and finishing at 7pm. But whatever routine you decide on, it’s vital that you stick to it, in the main at least. Chaos is the only alternative if you let it slide.​

Good luck to all of us in these challenging times. May we all emerge stronger !

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