What to do, when you don’t want to do, what you gotta do — Notes from a Remote Startup

Ever kissed a frog to see if he would turn into a prince? Well, have you ever tried eating a frog to have a glimmering career? — Here are 8 tricks to shake that procrastinators block off and get your proverbial nose back to the game. Motivation, procrastination, mo-ti-va-tion…

Emily Elwes
Nov 21, 2018 · 9 min read

1. The Soundtrack to your success — the ultimate motivational beats

“If music is the sound of getting a groove on, play on and get down” — Flylancer team misquoting William Shakespeare

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There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this right now, your mood isn’t quite up to it today, so let’s start with the basics and see if some good old music can’t get you in the mood.

Just like a movie soundtrack sets the scene, this ‘ultimate motivational playlist’, is designed to ramp up your hustle, so grab those headphones and get those tunes pumping.

Don’t worry if it’s not working for you at your desk — Why not try and take it outside and have a brisk walk to the beat. You don’t even need to feel bad about it, there’s a ton of research out there to suggest that creative procrastination is great for problem-solving and productivity.

If Freddie Mercury can’t turn that frown into the triumphant fist, then we’ll eat our computers…

2. Get your Sandra Bullocks in order — write that sh*t down

“I like lists, I’m controlling, I’m difficult on every level” — Sandra Bullock

Here at Flylancer, we like to take our notes from Sandra Bullock, she’s one of the most successful actresses of all time — and we take all our prompts from those that have well and truly made it (not to mention her being Miss. Congeniality herself — a crime-fighting, double agent).

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There’s a lot to be said for making lists. Perhaps most importantly, the fact that writing stuff down gets it out of your head.

Let’s face it, our minds aren’t designed for optimal prioritisation, it’s very easy for important tasks to get mixed up with our shopping lists, and for us to misinterpret their urgency or significance of given tasks.

So if you’re feeling pressured, or jumbled up — get pen on paper. Mindmap, list, doodle, come back to it and add as you go along. Once you get it on paper you’ll feel much better and your mind will clear.

3. How to write the ultimate to-do list — warning: for highly effective people only!

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing” — Stephen R. Covey

Now you’ve got it all on paper you can take it to the next level — and become a ‘highly effective person’. Not our words, but the words of the godfather of productivity and motivation, Stephen R. Covey.

In his epic book, “7 Habits of Highly effective people” — Stephen outlines 7 insights and practical solutions to becoming ‘successful’ — starting with redefining what we understand to be ‘successful.’

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But what’s this got to do with list making? Ah, in chapter 3 Stephan lays out one of the most kick-ass (and by kick-ass we mean effective) ways to manage and prioritise your to-do list we’ve ever seen.

It starts with a simple cross in your notebook, and before you know it, you’re ruling the world. But seriously — it’s ace.

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This method helps to distinguish the difference between an urgent task, and an important one — because, there really is a difference. For example, sending an email campaign to your customers to hit a deadline is urgent, but that doesn’t necessarily make it an ‘important’ task. Whereas making time to the gym every week, may not seem urgent, it is however extremely important (it’s your physical health)!

Think about it, how many times has ‘going to the gym’ slid to the very bottom of your to-do list? Exactly.

Using Stephan’s simple ‘time management matrix’ you’ll be able to focus on what truly matters and leave the unimportant to another day.

4. Eat that frog — For the accountability and French cuisine lovers in the house

Ever kissed a frog to see if he would turn into a prince? Well how about, ever tried eating frog to have a glimmeringly successful career? — sic.

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Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.

This is also the premise of Brian Tracey’s Productivity Manifesto “Eat that Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less”. Its basic concept: get the thing that you least want to do done as quickly as possible — first thing in the morning — then move on.

How to spot a frog?

  • Things you don’t want to do, but actually, need to do.
  • Things you want to do and actually need to do.
  • Things you want to do, but actually, don’t need to do.
  • Things you don’t want to do, and actually, don’t need to do.
  • If it goes ‘quack’ and has extremely long bent legs…

What to do with a frog once you’ve identified it? Try making yourself accountable and letting your whole team know what your daily frog is at a stand-up or in slack, that way you’re accountable for getting that slimy b*stard boiled and smothered in garlic!

5. Knowing your end-game — What’s your why?

Let’s face it — sometimes procrastination can get downright existential. How did I get here? Why am I even doing this? Before we get melodramatic, sometimes it’s actually a good idea to check in with your underlying motivations for going to work every single day.

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Check what you’re working on is it a step towards your end-game. What do I mean by end-game? -We’re talking your own personal medium to long-term planning.

Maybe your end game is to become an expert in the field of marketing, and your current internship with all difficult learning curves are a step toward that end-game.

Maybe you’ve got loftier ambitions, and want to make a recognisable dent in the world by working on something that will change the future of work (ehem — no peeking please), so boring admin tasks are part of the journey towards that.

Or maybe you’ve got something specific that you want to prove to yourself or others around you?

Whatever your end-game truly is, only you can know it, so check in with it. Sometimes it changes, but generally speaking, its foundations will have something to do with your general motivation and core beliefs in life, aka. to be rich, to be clever, to be loved, to be accepted.

Make sure what you’re working on right now contributes to your end-game.

6. It’s a race to the top — harness your competitive nature, measure your success

“And now, here they are! The most daredevil group of daffy drivers to ever whirl their wheels in the Wacky Races! Competing for the title of the world’s wackiest racer!” — Wacky Races

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Have you ever noticed that some of the most successful people that you know have a competitive streak — with themselves? That’s right, competing with others is for kids and Wacky Racers, if you really wanna ramp up your game, proving to yourself that you can achieve anything that you put your mind to, will take you there.

So, with your end-game in mind, and with the help of your team/manager if you can, identify how you’re getting on at your job.

It’s as simple as asking for a performance review with a numerical data point attached to it. Say, if your boss tells you-you’re at 40% achievement level with your position, you can then use that number to benchmark your progress. Get it from 40 to 60 to 80 to 100 and see that promotion you’re angling for.

Even better, identify KPIs, Key Performance Indicators, to help you observe and measure your progress. These are metrics that can be used to measure your performance in certain areas, like ‘number of people opening the newsletters I write’ or ‘time taken to submit projects as done’. Use them to try and beat your dastardly self at regular points in your month/year and push yourself along.

Make like Penelope Pitstop and use those check-ins and benchmarks to win your one-man race!

7. Public praise — It’s about the karma chameleon baby

Ah, we’ve all been there, it’s the daily slog and in the multitude of things that need to be done, gratitude falls by the wayside!

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But occasionally a little bit of recognition for our toil is hard earned and totally necessary — hell, that endorphin rush when someone sees and affirms your contribution is downright addictive.

So how to get it? Give it. Think of it as workplace karma. If you want to see more praise in the workplace, the best place to start is by dishing it out.

We’re not talking “Thank you for the world’s best photocopying Jeff” but carefully observed and thoughtful praise like “Thank you for always doing by photocopying in such a timely, efficient and kind manner, I really appreciate it and I think the whole team should give it up for your care and efforts.”

Public gratitude is really a question of culture, so if you’re in it for the long game (and want your teammates to always show you da love), how about going really public on their asses and posting your praise on LinkedIn? Or handing them a certificate for ‘extraordinary contribution’ in the office.

After their blushes have passed it will leave them feeling warm, fuzzy and motivated all week.

8. Dance like the team is watching — do a dance and forget about it!

Finally, if all else fails and nothing on our list has helped you, stuff our pseudo-startup advice and just dance.

In the words of the classic 1967 track by The Hombres — “Nobody knows what it’s all about, it’s too much man — let it all hang out” “

When we’re really not feeling it at Flylancer, and need some serriiiiioouuuussss motivation to get something finished, we do a dance and send it to our teammates. Why? Because in our surreal minds the dance is a kind of accountability to the task we’re about to commence. And there’s no way our colleagues will forget that we needed to get it done.

Just remember — you can and will do it. Eventually.

Ps. If you read the entirety of this article your procrastination level point score just reached 100. Congratulations you hit your new record!


The world’s first borderless community for…

Emily Elwes

Written by

Perpetual nomad and habitual networker. Founding member of Flylancer. Various authors from the community publishing on this channel. @flylancing @emilyelwes



The world’s first borderless community for location-independent professionals & digital nomads.

Emily Elwes

Written by

Perpetual nomad and habitual networker. Founding member of Flylancer. Various authors from the community publishing on this channel. @flylancing @emilyelwes



The world’s first borderless community for location-independent professionals & digital nomads.

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