Why going to the pub reduces procrastination and increases focus


Yep, you heard it right. If you want to procrastinate less and focus more, GO TO THE PUB … let me explain:

Years ago, my two daughters used to live with my ex-wife in Dorset and as a devoted but divorced dad living in Birmingham, I would have them to stay every other weekend. So, I’d drive down to Dorset each fortnight on Friday to pick them up from school (it was about 3 hours in the car), returning to Birmingham that evening, before taking them back to Dorset on Sunday.

Because I HATE being late, I would set out from Birmingham at 10:00am, even though I didn’t need to be at their school until 3:25pm. This allowed me a decent margin of time in case of problems on the motorway, which were rare but always possible. Arriving most times at around 13:00 therefore, I would have two hours of time to kill and in order to make good use of the time, I headed to the village pub to do some work. But here’s the thing, something extraordinary used to happen in that pub.

I quickly found that the quality and quantity of work I was doing in the pub was far superior to anything I was doing back in Birmingham. In fact, I was so, uber-super-productive in that pub, that I started to save my more complicated, head-spinning work for that slot of time each fortnight, because I knew I’d always crack it once I was in the pub. In the 4 years that I undertook that journey, there was NEVER a time where I was unproductive in that pub, and there was NEVER a time where I ‘could have got more done’ but didn’t because I’m a worthless procrastinator.

So what happened in that pub?

What was the extraordinary thing?

Well, there were 6 things to be precise:

  • The pub had no wifi and the mobile phone signal was limited, which meant no technology based distractions whilst I was in the pub.

  • The pub wasn’t my home or office so there was none of my clutter lying around, reminding me of all the other things I should/could be doing. There were no dirty dishes on the side screaming out “WASH ME, WASH ME, WASH ME NOW” and there were no piles of post begging to be opened and sorted.

  • The pub offered a pleasant atmosphere and on a Friday afternoon at 13:00 in a small village, the pub was quiet, neat and had no-one particular to stare at. Therefore, there were no ‘non-technology’ based distractions either.

  • I was ‘hands-free’ and had nothing else to do, so could focus fully on my creative work, writing on pads of paper and tapping away on my laptop. With nothing else to do, there were no multitasking temptations … no other mini jobs to be done, competing for my attention.

  • I was ALWAYS in a good mood in that pub because I was about to see my daughters and I missed them terribly. There was literally never a time in that pub where I felt stressed, nervous or tense. I ALWAYS felt happy, positive, expectant and relaxed when I was in that pub.

  • The pub was a fresh space in that I was only in it once each fortnight. For some homeworkers with lovely working spaces, there remains the challenge of boredom and needing a change of scene. The pub certainly helped me, simply because it was a different space.

So, what’s the moral of the story?

If you want to be more productive tomorrow than you are today and if you’re a homeworker and feeling frustrated with yourself because you don’t get more things done in the time that you have, break it up, find a new space, head to the pub or the cafe, turn off your technology, get away from the other jobs which compete for your attention … or just go to the pub!