This may sound like a strange challenge. But I am going to be doing a 30 day challenge where I don’t procrastinate at work – at all. You may think that you already do this – but are there times you are at work and you just don’t feel like starting that large project and instead, perhaps read some emails and do smaller less important tasks instead?
This doesn’t mean working longer, it means working more efficiently and focused. I’ll still be working the required 7.5 hours per day on average over the month.
This means extremely minimal coffee breaks, no scrolling through emails, no putting off larger pieces of work to do very minor and unnecessary tasks and most importantly of all, no looking at my phone. What it does mean, is that I’ll be focusing as much as possible on large tasks, taking very minor breaks, and spending every moment at work fully involved in a project.
While I can’t discuss the actual type or content of my work, I can describe my process and give you some insights into my experience.
I think that after this challenge I’ll have accomplished more at work in the same time and made more progress towards projects than I otherwise would have.
For example, if my role involves writing reports, then I can assess the number of reports written. That’s an easy measurement. It gets trickier when basing it on a larger project that doesn’t have so simplified outputs. However, from experience, I should be able to judge my overall work capacity and outputs compared to previous months and the type of work required.
As I’ve done before, I’ll be writing my experiences for each day – I’ve found it keeps me more motivated and engaged in the project when I do, and it’s easier to see my thoughts throughout the challenge rather than summarising everything at the end.
Before starting this, a rough estimate of the number of ‘reports’ I have finished during a month (while also doing other work) is approximately 1-2 depending on the month. It will be interesting to see how much I can get done over 30 days.
I do also expect that I’ll be mentally exhausted on some days especially if I spend 4-5 straight hours of deep focus and finish a task.
And with that, lets start!
Day 1 – 19 July 2021.
The first half of the working day went very well. I remained very focused. However, in the second half of the day, as usual, I started to feel more mentally fatigued and found it hard to concentrate as sharply roughly at around 3:30pm, which got a bit better around 4:15 after having a quick snack. I also had a few people messaging me to which I responded. Tomorrow I will need to have my phone away from me and on silent so I only receive texts or phone calls (which is usually only work related).
Also, I’ve found that very low volume music helps me to block out the office noise and keep focused. I definitely feel as though I need it to get through a long day of concentrating.
Day 2 – 20 July 2021.
Day 2 was a working from home day, and usually, I find it harder to focus on occasion. Today went quite well, there was a long meeting mid-day which was a nice break.
Got through a number of things I’ve been meaning to do. Again, at the 4pm mark I just feel like stopping, but of course, you can’t do that in a normal 9-5 job. However, this challenge has given me motivation to push on and focus on a few more things to complete before the work day ends.
Overall, going well. At this point I almost think there may be a time where mental fatigue from prolonged focus may creep up on me, but I do have a few long weekends planned which will be great to relax the mind.
Day 3 – 21 July 2021.
Day 3 was a little slower than previous days. I had a number of distractions come up that needed to be completed. I also took a bit longer lunch break than was planning.
Eating a hot meal mid-day definitely makes me feel slightly lethargic and harder to focus (makes sense due to the energy required for digestion). Currently 1:41 and ready to get back to work.
Day 4 – 22 July 2021.
There was a few key things going on at work that I spent all of my time doing. Not much else could be done during that, but I’m happy with how I progressed some key tasks.
Day 5 – 23 July 2021.
Another big day and successfully completed a few tasks before going on leave. Given my high level of focus, I am really looking forward to the few extra days off.
Day 6 – 28 July 2021.
Back at work from an extra long weekend away. Can’t say I was overly happy to return to work, but I’m committed to being consistent with this 30 day challenge and getting as much done as possible. It was a bit of a slower start today.
Day 7 – 3 August 2021
Feeling pretty refreshed and focused on the tasks to complete. I’ve found that I can focus even better if I have tasks that are due or have some sort of deadline. When there is something to do that doesn’t have a deadline, I find it harder to keep focused and smash it out. Might be a good idea to create deadlines for myself, even if the work isn’t actually due yet.
Got heaps done today, and with 15 minutes left of work time, I decided to just start something I’ve been meaning to start – and I was super focused and managed to get a lot of the prep work done ready for tomorrow!
Day 8 – 5 August 2021
Day 8 went really well – managed to get a lot of things completed and work on a few things I’ve had on my list.
Day 9 – 6 August 2021
Friday – and the perfect opportunity to get a few things done and completed by the end of this week. I’m going really well on this challenge and have managed to complete a lot in August on the days I’ve worked. Almost a third of the way through this challenge so definitely a lot more that can be completed.
This challenge has actually motivated me to do more and strive to get more done. Of course, with a lot of deep focus you can get fatigued quite quickly, but having very short breaks between bigger blocks of work has been going well. I’ve found that I can sustain focus for roughly 1-1.5 hours at a time before starting to feel like I need a break – but that does depend on the work I’m doing and if I get a task finished that’s the perfect opportunity for a 5-10 minute break before starting something new.
Day 10 – 9 August 2021
Day 9 was a tough day with a lot of focus to get things done before the weekend. I’m feeling refreshed from the weekend and time away from work. A third of the way through the challenge now and feeling good. Getting a lot of stuff done and working to catch up.
Day 11 – 10 August 2021
Work is progressing well. I am aware of a few things that I will soon need to do, so will need to do some planning for days and work.
I’ve been using my calendar a lot more to organise my work and tasks which I’ve found very helpful so far – as well as keeping track of things and seeing when they are completed.
The team went out for a quick lunch together, which was a nice break throughout the day and felt energised for the last few hours of work.
Day 12 – 11 August 2021
Today was a little slower than usual, and I did find myself taking slightly more breaks throughout the day. I have been trying to keep motivated and keep this challenge going to get lots of things done.
I’ve found that I can best get in the mood of some deep focused work if I put headphones on and listen to music – it gets me in the mindset of working and it blocks out all other sounds. I will start off tomorrow with headphones and music and continue the grind!
Day 13 – 12 August 2021
Overall, not bad, but could be a lot better.
Day 14 – 13 August 2021
As of yesterday afternoon, I’ll need to work from home completely over the next 7 days. This will change things up a bit and hopefully I can just keep focused on what I need to do. I’ll also be able to start work earlier and get more done in the morning.
Day 15 – 16 August 2021
The first half of the day went really well – I kept focused on a few tasks and got some things done. I’ve found that music helps me to block out other things and really puts me in to the ‘work mode’. Once I have my headphones on and put music on, it’s time to work.
Day 16 – 17 August 2021
Time to pull it together. I’ve been finding myself pretty unmotivated recently for work tasks. I know there are a few larger things coming up, and to be sure I’m ready and prepared for them, I need to do the necessary groundwork now.
At the end of the day I felt like I accomplished a lot during the hours I could work outside of meetings. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve found that having a strict deadline on a project really helps me to keep focused and get the work one early.
My own timelines on tasks don’t have the same effect as I know they can be moved.
Day 17 – 18 August 2021
I was using Toggl to track the time I was working, but I found myself forgetting to start it or stop it. I also only used it outside of meetings to track how much time I was spending per day, but I’ve found that it wasn’t really that helpful.
Day 18 – 19 August 2021
Big day. Got heaps of stuff done outside of meetings and I’ve noticed that this challenge has definitely helped to keep the workload under control. Only problem now is the more I do and the faster I do, the more I get given to do! It’s fine though, I’d rather be remembered for the person who did heaps rather than the person who did little.
Day 19 – 20 August 2021
Friday – managed to get heaps done before my long weekend. Smashed out a number of things before mid-day, and at that point I just lost my motivation to do more for the rest of the day.
This is my problem with the standard 7.5 hour working day – it’s time based so no matter how much or how little you get done in that time, you just need to keep working. Having an ‘outcome-based’ working style would work so much better and giving people a reward for finishing major tasks.
After the first 3-4 hours of the day, I found it hard to focus. I felt like I achieved so much already and got a few major things done – and it zapped my mental focus/energy. After a bit of a break, I did manage to get back on track for the last few hours of the working day before heading off for the weekend.
Day 20 – 24 August 2021
Had a great long weekend. Need to get back into the work mindset and get started on a few major tasks.
Once I’m doing the work I feel focused and I can easily continue with it. My major hurdle is just starting – which is why I started this 30 day challenge to stop procrastinating. Before I start, it always seems like a daunting task that requires heaps of work (which is true), but just by starting a small task, it gets easier to get into it.
This is exactly what it was like in Uni when writing a report or essay. There were some times that I just started a little section and built on it over time, and when there were a few weeks left before it was due, most of it was already written and just needed editing.
This was so much better than just starting it a few days before it was due and rushing. It’s exactly like work tasks. Do a little now and a little later, and it will be mostly finished when you need it.
Day 21 – 26 August 2021
I was having computer problems throughout the day which stopped me from getting a lot done. But in the times it was working, I was focused and managed to get a few things done.
Day 22 – 27 August 2021
Huge day of work and mental power was zapped at the end of it. Didn’t have the greatest sleep the night beforehand so that probably contributed to feeling pretty dead at 5:30.
Day 23 – 30 August 2021
After a nice relaxing weekend I’m finding it pretty hard to settle back into work stuff. Reading a few emails first will help me get back into the groove. I feel like a few weeks off would be very welcome right now!
Day 24 – 31 August 2021
Going pretty well today. Managing to get a few things done but also noticing that more things are piling up that need to be done. Still about 6 days left of this challenge so I should be able to get a lot completed in early September.
I think overall this is going well. I’m definitely getting more done according to my work tasks record. This is also a very busy time of the year for where I work so perhaps it’s just because of that why it seems as though there is a lot more work to be done even though I’m already doing lots.
Day 25 – 1 September 2021
Another pretty good day of getting a lot of work done! I’ve been staying longer at work due to the amount of stuff on, and I’ve been managing to knock out quite a few tasks that were coming up.
Day 26 – 2 September 2021
It went well today, got a few major tasks completed but most of the other time I’ve been pre-occupied with a very basic data entry task that has taken most of my time to do.
Day 27 – 3 September 2021.
Not feeling it today as a Friday. Got a few things done before finishing but found it really hard to commit to a solid few hours. Had a few other things on my mind that have been distracting me which drove my focus away. Still got a few hours. Time for a coffee and that last bit of focus and work before the weekend!
Day 28 – 6 September 2021
Full day of data entry really made the day go quick. I was super focused and it was actually quite a fun day as I could just focus on the one thing until it was completed.
Day 29 – 7 September 2021
A lot of things on today. Coming into the end of this challenge and I can say that it’s been very useful. I’m not entirely sure how much more I’ve not procrastinated. It’s definitely helped on some days, but at the same time, if something really needs to be done urgently I always do it as soon as possible. It’s more so the tasks that are put off because of other urgent work.
Day 30 – 8 September 2021 – THE FINAL DAY
It’s done! This was the final day for the 30 day challenge!
In terms of results, at the beginning I noted that I could count the number of ‘reports’ that I perform, among other types of work.
Before starting this challenge, I usually finished 1-2 reports each month among my other work tasks.
After this challenge, I can see that over the 30 days (starting 19 July 2021), I managed to finish 5 reports. It’s not much, but that’s more than double than I do normally!
Not only did I finish more reports, I also got a lot of larger tasks completed throughout late July to early September.
This is also combined with the fact that this was a much busier period than earlier in the year – so to get those reports done on top of my other work is really good.
I’m happy with how it went – there were a few slower days than usual due to having meetings and just not being able to focus properly, but on the whole, I’d say that this challenge was a success!
Of course, there were days that I couldn’t manage to keep focused and found myself probably mentally worn-out with still a few extra hours to go (even though I completed a huge project/task). This was pretty expected given the demand.
It’s great to have completed this challenge and to see the great results!