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Most of us have projects we want to get done when we are home; ranging from huge undertakings like planning our financial independence or something smaller in scale like repairing the deck.
We’re all excited about our project and fantasize about how we’re going to do this or that. But when it’s “go-time”, we tend to make excuses, drop a few balls, or miss a few deadlines; all with the goal of procrastinating.
Let’s face it; getting things done at home is much harder than in a structured environment like your office. It’s easier to work efficiently when you have a dedicated space with specific rules that allow you to do the same things day-in and day-out without too many interruptions.
The real challenge begins when you go out of that structured cocoon. Unless you’re a kid, at home nobody will tell you that you’re late on your deadlines; there’s no team to support your efforts and there’s no boss over your head to help organize your daily tasks and objectives. Of course, those that are married may argue otherwise, but we can all agree it’s a bit different than work.
Bring your office productivity to personal projects by remembering that:
1# Projects are made out of the sum of their actions
Most at-home projects get stuck or stay on “paper” because they’re being approached as a large unit when they’re actually made of manageable bite sized actions.
For some reason, at work, you never tackle a project all at once for all angles. Most likely, first, you fully understand the objectives & timelines. Then you start preparing a list of necessary actions, order of implementation, etc. Well, the same must be applied at home! Sit down and break your project into manageable actions and try to understand which action comes first.
2# You need a Personal Accountability System
When you’re in the office, you have colleagues that email you with pending tasks, a boss that reviews your actions (sometimes even before you hand them over) and a little voice in your head nagging you constantly to finish what you’re doing and head out home as soon as possible.
Alas, these productivity drivers are not available at home. You need to find out what or who (more likely) can help you to be accountable at home.
Often engaging friends and family does the trick. Just speaking about your project and its objectives creates a commitment that you don’t want to break. For me, it’s sharing the project with my family, explaining that I need some time to do certain things alone, and figuring out with them how they can help me by:
- Reducing the endless stream of interruptions;
- Asking them for help on tasks I won’t be able to attend to during this project; and
- Strengthening my resolve. After all, how can I stop in the middle after speaking about the project and taking help from them along the way?
3# You Need To Create External Triggers
At work, you have external triggers that push you into action: whether it’s a staff meeting, project reviews, or simply chatting with your boss during lunch. As in the office, you must create, even artificially, external triggers at home:
Create a set of triggers!
- It can be a visual reminder on big white board
- Updating your friends or family – knowing they’ll come over so you’ll want to show progress on that fence or room that your painting or settings up the new surround sound system.
- If your project involves other parties, schedule their task on a certain day knowing you won’t be able to push off your part of the project.
4# Getting Things Done and Making It Fun!
We all have an inner child, sometimes it’s a burden, sometimes a blessing. In the office, our inner child often doesn’t get an opportunity to express himself (Unless you have the same job Tom Hanks had in the movie Big).
Hopefully, we enjoy our work. But at work, we are also rewarded with salary and the occasional pat on the shoulder/promotion. At home, we can indulge our inner child a bit more. Try to motivate yourself into action by Gamifying your project!
Try setting up a set of rewards each time you complete a task; with an “extra-credit” reward for completing the entire project. Gamifying serves as a great motivator for me and helps me cross off my lists at the same time increasing the fun-o-meter as much as possible.