There are many benefits to co-working spaces. For one thing, you have more freedom than you do in a traditional office and fewer distractions that you do at home. However, the relaxed environment and the fact that you’re not forced to adhere to strict timeframes means it can be difficult to motivate yourself and to properly manage your time.
There are a few simple ways that you can deal with this issue though, and in this guide we’ll look at some tips to help you do just that.
1. Set Yourself Small Deadlines
According to Parkinson’s Law, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. In other words, you will complete the work in the time you allocate for it, regardless of what that time is. If it’s a job that can realistically be completed in a single day of flat-out working, but you set yourself a week, then you’ll spend most of your time procrastinating and working slow (often subconsciously) to drag out the completion until the week is up. If you set yourself a day, you’ll work hard and complete in a day.
You can use this law to your advantage by setting a series of small but tough deadlines, breaking big tasks into small ones so that you don’t lose sight of the goal and stay focused on the task at hand.
As an example, let’s imagine that you have a 50,000 word technical manual to write (lucky you!) and you have a deadline for four weeks. Rather than simply telling yourself you’ll do it within those four weeks, only to start very slowly and then go into a mad panic when you realize you’re only half done with a few days left, simply break it into small milestones of 1,000 words each.
When you start work on day 1, tell yourself that you’ll complete 1,000 words before lunch. You can repeat this in the afternoon before enjoying a coffee break, and then do a final 1,000 words to finish the day. Do this for 5 days a week and you’ll have your book by the deadline without feeling like you’ve gone to the extreme to get there.
2. Reward Yourself
If you struggle to meet self-imposed deadlines, you just need to give yourself a little push, an incentive. This is often the case for people who have spent their lives working in offices under the guidance of an employer or supervisor, but it’s also an issue that may self-employed people struggle with on occasion.
The incentive should be something small, and preferably not something that will impact on your ability to complete future deadlines. In the above example, whereby you are writing 3,000 words a day, the incentive could be a cup of coffee after the first 1,000 words, a game of pool/air hockey after the second, and a visit to the local donut shop or bar after the third.
Of course, this only works if the rewards are special. If, for instance, you spend all day drinking coffee, then another cup is not going to be much of an incentive. Choose something that you like but something that won’t take a lot of time or expend a lot of energy, and you’ll work harder to get there throughout the day. You’ll also enjoy it more—you can’t beat an ice cold drink or soothing coffee after a long day at the office.
3. Use a Time Management App
A time management app can tell you how productive you are and can spot moments when you are at your slowest. It can also incentivize you to push harder as you try to meet the goals that you set yourself for each day or each segment of the day.
There are many such apps available and while some of the better ones have a premium service, you should be able to get by with the free version.
4. Use Collaboration Software
If you work as a team, even if there is only one other person, it may benefit you to signup to a virtual workspace like Trello, Slack, Teamwork, and many others. These programs connect all the individuals in a company and allow them to collaborate on projects, exchanging information, arranging conferences, sharing files, etc.,
You can manage your time and assign an employee’s or colleague’s time within a few seconds.
5. Stay Focused
Finally, it’s important to remember to stay focused. It sounds obvious, but it’s something that many people fail to do in co-working spaces. These spaces are great for networking, they have gyms, terraces, coffee bars, pool tables and more—it’s easy to think of them as places to play and socialize as opposed to places to work.
By all means use these amenities and have a little fun every now and then, but don’t spend the day chatting and playing when you should be working. It’s also important to avoid burnout, so if you find yourself slowing down and getting stressed, take a break, grab cup of coffee, and rest your eyes for a few minutes. Just don’t let a few minutes turn into a few hours!
Bio—Nicky Sarandrea is a writer and an expert on Coworking in Scottsdale. He has written extensively on the subject of serviced offices and co-working spaces over the years and is a great proponent of these services.