We all do it.
Don’t give me that innocent puritanical look. I know you do.
Hiding away behind your computer, in a private little room somewhere, casting furtive glances over the top of your screen in case someone walks in on you, ready to quickly stop what you’re doing and pretend you really were working.
You were procrastinating, weren’t you.
If I was to close the top-most window on your desktop, I bet you something entirely unrelated to work would appear. What was it? Come on, it’s confession time. Facebook? Twitter? Tetris? Imgur? Something wholeheartedly NSFW?
Don’t worry. I won’t judged you. I’m just as guilty. In fact, it might shock you to know that I’m procrastinating right now.
I’ve given myself this long weekend – around sixty hours – to finish the fourth draft of this manuscript so that I can start submitting it next week. I’ve got five chapters left, only one child in the house who is happily entertaining himself bulldozing Lego around the floor to cripple me later, it’s bright and sunny outside, I’m fuelled up on porridge and Earl Grey Tea. The scene is set for manuscripting and what am I doing?
When I made the decision to go freelance, my boss at the time scoffed and said I’d just end up procrastinating and spending my days on the beach, like she did when she tried her hand at freelancing.
There’s no doubt that working from home as a freelance affords significantly more opportunity for procrastination than working in an office. There’s no one walking past my desk, there aren’t colleagues sharing my cubicle with full view of my screen and full eavesdropping rights on my telephone conversations, and there is no firewall blocking my access to my favourite websites.
But there are deadlines. And there are bills to pay. And to pay the bills, I have to meet the deadlines. It’s a simple equation.
Self-discipline is a fundamental skill if you want to work freelance. I’m not saying I’ve mastered it (as evidenced by my current activity) but I do have a reasonable enough grip on it that when I’ve got deadlines, I set aside whatever I need to set aside to meet them.
Which is not to say that freelance is all work and no play. The great thing about being freelance and working from home is that I don’t have to sit and stare at a computer screen for eight hours a day. When I’m not productive, I can get up and go into the garden, talk to the chickens, watch half an episode of something, play with the kids, do the washing, bake, cook etc.
But when push comes to shove, I just have to knuckle down and do it.
Righto. That’s enough procrastinating. Back to work.