Last week, I was telling my accountability partner about my problem in staying focused and productive throughout the day.
It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that too often, after finishing one or two tasks, I feel like taking a break. Sometimes, I can’t even convince myself to finish one task because my brain keeps distracting me with different things, like play Sims, read, hop on Pinterest, or check Facebook. My brain keeps coming up with BS excuses like, “I’m hungry” even though I just ate, or “I’m sleepy” or “I’m tired” even if I had sufficient sleep the previous night.
What’s surprising is he (my accountability partner), too, is facing something similar. Apparently, I’m not the only one prone to succumbing to unscheduled breaks and mind wandering. For some reason, this realization comforted me. Now I know I’m not So we agreed that we both need to work on this challenge– to train ourselves to cut the BS excuses and get shit done.
So I came up with the idea for the 1 Week No BS Experiment, so both of us can nudge each other back into work mode. Here’s how the experiment works:
Every time one of us would feel lazy, we’d post it on Facebook with the hashtag, “#1wknobs”. We can post why we don’t feel like working, or just use the designated hashtag. For example, I overslept last week so I posted this: “Ugh. I just woke up! Overslept by 3 hours! #1wknobs.”
That’s a signal to my accountability partner that, “hey, I’m not working even when I’m supposed to.” Granted, it’s not the usual checking-Facebook-instead-of-working kinda break, for me it still applies because I ignored my alarm clock and slept in, even if my scheduled wake up time already gave me 7.5 hours of sleep.
Essentially, the #1wknobs experiment is designed to help us do the following:
- Be aware of when the urge to oversleep, take a break or just do nothing strikes
- Encourage us to admit it to another person, thereby inducing guilt, or at least the feeling that somebody’s watching and that I should work– a feeling lost in many freelancers and work at home folks.
- Nudge each other back on the right track
The Loopholes of the 1 Week No BS Experiment
Of course, our experiment has some loopholes. The first and biggest challenge is, the fact that we can’t constantly keep checking our Facebook account just to see if the other posted something.
To counter that, we set pre-determined check-up times at 1PM and 8PM. The problem is if I post something at 2PM, my accountability partner won’t see it for another 6 hours, thereby leaving me 6 hours break time with no one to stop me or tell me otherwise.
Yes, I know that I could just be my own guard and force myself back to work during those 6 hours, instead of waiting for someone to tell me. I wish it were that easy. I wouldn’t need to go through this experiment if that were always the case.
Sometimes, I’d get back to work after spending 30 minutes on Facebook, but other times, half a day could pass by with me watching TV and surfing the web. It’s surprising, really, how I get my work done despite these unscheduled breaks.
The second loophole is we don’t want other people to see what we’re posting, because that could potentially pose a threat to our jobs. What would my clients think if they find out that I’m playing Sims instead of writing their newsletter?
We solved that issue by using Facebook’s custom settings, so only he can see my post and vice versa. But it’s too tedious to change the privacy settings of our post every time!
Another problem is sometimes, we forget to post updates on Facebook. For example, last week I was out furniture shopping with my partner, instead of researching for an article. While I did manage to complete my research work late that night, I forgot to update my Facebook account of my unscheduled shopping trip.
The Experiment’s Results and Improvements Moving Forward
This week, the hashtag was used less than 10 times. Based on that number, it means both of us took less than 10 unscheduled breaks during the week. I know that’s highly improbable. But that’s okay. I know this experiment is a work in progress and that in time, we can both improve our posting and check-in frequency as we both become more aware of our work habits.
As for the results, I did manage to complete all my work related tasks this week. Unfortunately, because of my other unscheduled breaks, I didn’t have time to do my own marketing and blogging tasks. I really hope this will improve in the near future.
I’m also planning to propose several tweaks to the experiment in our next accountability call on Monday. That is, if my accountability partner is willing to continue this experiment with me.