As an ADHD coach I have had some clients observe how they get things done at work but not at home. Especially if they live alone. Accountability and structure are what is missing. At work you are accountable to a supervisor or boss. Don’t do the work, you could get fired or demoted. Also, there are other people around you working and cause some societal pressure. Not to say it can’t be hard sometimes to get things done at work but usually you have deadlines which create structure to your day.

Sometimes when coaching entrepreneurs struggling to get things done and grow their business, I noticed they would try to schedule completely free days to get work done. They would try to have days without meetings, appointments or obligations so they could just hunker down and get to work on what they were behind on or not getting done. This often failed. No work got done or very little and most often toward the end of the day. Or they would get stuff done but just not the right stuff. I believe for many the reason they don’t get the work done on these “free” days is because the time is too wide open. It is too easy to delay getting started or get distracted by something less important but seemingly more immediate. Now if there is a hard outside deadline then they may have more ease at getting the work done during those “free” days.

I recommend not trying to schedule “free” days unless you are up against a very important immediate hard outside deadline. Usually, the pressure and stimulation from fear of not getting the task done will push you forward. If you do not have that hard fearful deadline, a day with appointments, meetings or other obligations is your best bet to getting things done. The obligations structure your time. They create mini deadlines.

As someone who works for herself. The days I have had completely free have been days where little gets done. But days with appointments push me to get things done in between sessions. I find weekends are especially dangerous. All that open time is opportunity to put things off that should get done. Often things I don’t enjoy doing like cleaning. But even if it is only an errand I have to do, it can help me have a little more luck not wasting the whole day. I can say to myself, “I need to get this task done before I can go pick up the food.” This encourages me to get to work because I want the food. Or maybe schedule a get together with friends and say to yourself that you won’t go until after you clean the kitchen. Of course, this doesn’t always work but it does work sometimes and that is better than not getting things done ever.

Part of the problem is we seem to easily break promises to ourselves. That is why I recommend whenever possible to obligate yourself to someone else. For example, at work when you are given an open-ended assignment without a deadline from a superior make a promise. When given the new assignment say to them when you are going to complete the assignment and commit to it. Give a hard date and time. Make sure you notate it in your calendar. Also, try not to have the completion dates to far away. Long-term projects are often harder to get done then immediately due projects. If it is a long-term project try and break it down into chunks and commit to those chunks being done by certain dates. Be public about those commitments. It helps you to get to work.

One time when I was scheduled to give a presentation at a conference and I just was not getting my act together. I hadn’t even started yet. I needed to get it done before I left for the conference because I wouldn’t have time at the conference to get it done before my presentation. I went on social media and committed to the universe that I would get the presentation done by 1pm that day. I doubt anyone saw that post but it got me working. Outside social pressure can help get you started on a task. Usually once you get started you are ok.

Think of accountability and structure as your friends. They set you up for a greater likelihood of success. Of course, it doesn’t always work but working sometimes leaves you better off than you were.