THE BLOG

The Art of Tricking Yourself Into Being Productive

19/02/2016 14:22 | Updated 19 February 2017

I work from home, which means a lot of things...


I can wear the same clothes for an entire week.

I spend way too much time on the Internet.

I am always enthusiastically happy to see any other human.

The ache I feel to get a pet is a real physical condition.

I consider the cashiers at my local supermarket actual friends.

I am on first name terms with the postman...because I'm the only person who answers the door.

The local Jehovah's Witnesses have identified me as 'vulnerable', as I am always home in the day...and I'm the only person that answers the door.


The joy of working from home is that you can perform when you want to, and only when you strictly need to. For that reason I have become incredibly adept at putting off work until the exact moment it becomes imperative I begin, or risk missing a deadline. Much like Peter Parker's 'spidey senses' that start tingling the minute he detects danger, my deadline senses will kick in wherever I am in my flat (most probably in the kitchen...affording my 6th cup of tea of the morning the exact optimum brew time specified on the box), and then, like a murderous cyborg summoned back to HQ from the battlefield, I will mechanically turn on my heel with a steely faced expression, and purposefully stomp to my computer.

It's at this stage, all the joys of home working fly from the window I'm usually staring out of.

Gone will be the bi-hourly 10-minute hiatus from my tasks in which I play my favourite lone-game - "How many cats can I see from my window?" Some days this can be the best game ever, others I'm just left sad.

Gone will be the opportunity to leap up at the first hint of any kind of fracas on the street - be that from passing school kids, arguing adults, resentful toddlers that are just fucking done with being outside. I love a fracas. Especially when a reckless and overly-confident child tumbles from their scooter, or chips are thrown (which happens more often than you might suspect). I'll be forced to forego my self-imposed responsibility to nosily police the 50m section of pavement below my window. That dude I've caught a number of times in the act of peeing on a tree in broad daylight will now proceed un-chastened. I haven't the time to angrily rap on the window and shake my head in disgust in order to force him to reconsider his abysmal manners...I have shit to do.

Gone is the time where I'd usually grab myself an apple and head to YouTube just for the hell of it. No game plan. No expectations. Gone is the time spent experimenting with homemade nut butters, spelling out new rude messages in fridge magnets to delight my housemate, or Googling the calf muscles of Olympic sprinters. And Buzzfeed certainly isn't allowed - I haven't got the time to read "25 Ways To Make Your Cat Look Like A Dragon" NOT TODAY BUZZFEED. I will of course bookmark it for later consumption - but not today.

It's taken me a long time to figure it out, but it appears in order to be productive - I need to feel panicked. I need to enter a state of high pressure in order for the words to flow. When time isn't tight, I'll float around my flat in a daydream, occasionally stopping to dust something, or to cautiously nibble on an unidentifiable item I've just discovered at the back of the cupboard. I'm so relaxed about my to-do list when time is on my side that I may as well be a flat-bound Baloo the Bear, just dancing around counting ladybirds, achieving absolutely nothing.

Now I know what works, I can identify ways to up the ante pressure-wise. Perhaps I could buy a gigantic 'Countdown' clock to hang above my desk. Maybe I could enlist Richard O'Brien (or a lookalike) to stand in my hallway, rap on the door, and gee me along as my time limit approaches, and the likeliness of winning a crystal (being paid) decreases. I'd even wear the jumpsuit. Maybe I could chat to a builder about installing a floor that slowly crumbles beneath me as time ticks by... Or perhaps I could just insist on writing largely pointless blog posts about very little despite having four articles to submit in 24 hours time...

Must dash. My master is calling.

Amy is a writer and blogger from London, who has just written a humour memoir about putting life advice to the test.