thinking about fighting procrastination lately. It’s one of the monsters I battle almost every day. Give me a distraction and I will embrace it like a lover. I can’t help it. Even if I actually want to do a particular project, nine times out of ten I will still procrastinate. It’s in my nature.
At the moment, I’m procrastinating about the novel I’m working on. I started out strong … the first three chapters practically wrote themselves. Nevertheless, every time I sit down at my computer, the monster comes out of the closet and sits beside me, whispering in my ear
What’s happening on Facebook (or Twitter)? or
I wonder what new properties have come on the market downtown (or in the south of France)? or
Whose turn is it in Words With Friends?
It is getting ridiculous!
So, I rifled through some old Feng Shui articles looking for advice, and I came away with some great tips to help deal with procrastination. If you’re reading this, you may very well be procrastinating yourself. If you are, think about what it is you are procrastinating about and how you can relate it to the following:
- First, determine if the thing you are procrastinating about is important to YOU. If it’s not, why even bother with it?
- Rethink your purpose. Are you thinking that you “have to” do it? Just thinking that you “have to” do something puts a heavy energy on it. No one wants to do something they’re being told they have to do. You need to either find a way for it to be something you choose to do, or you can simply choose not to do it. Always remember that you are free to make the choice…..even if there will be consequences to face later.
- Don’t be a perfectionist. As a writer, that is my biggest energy drain. I want what I put down to be perfect from the start. So I don’t even start. Just do it! Once you begin, the energy will flow and you will have something to work with, even if it needs a lot of tweaking (or in my case, editing).
- Break large projects down into smaller tasks. For me, I know I can’t knock out the book in one sitting. I have to concentrate on chapters, or even parts of chapters. If you need to, say, get your taxes done (the “project”), start by collecting all your credit card receipts (a “task”). Allocate 30 minutes to the task. Then make a list of all the tasks associated with the project, and schedule 30 minutes a day to work on each of them. Suddenly, what once seemed daunting will now seem doable.
- Plan some fun time. Work it into your schedule so you don’t feel deprived. Whether it’s time alone, time with your friends or family, time to play games or surf the net – just make sure you make time for it. Then once you’ve done that, get to the 30-minute task that is associated with your project. When the 30 minutes is up, reward yourself by doing something you want to do (like seeing what’s popular on Pinterest).
- Stay motivated. If you need to, tell someone what you plan to do. That way, you become accountable, and you will be more likely to do it. Believe me, you don’t want to have to tell someone you spent the last half hour watching cute videos of sleeping puppies instead of working on that outline.
Remember: procrastination can be overcome. People often procrastinate because they have started to think of what they need to do as something unpleasant. The negative energy associated with a project makes it harder and harder to accomplish. By rethinking your purpose – that is, thinking of your project as being something positive – and following the other tips above, you will be able to generate the good energy you need to get things done.
And 30 minutes? Totally doable! Anyone can do something for 30 minutes.
Now, where did that sneaky muse disappear to?
I needed to read this today, as I am procrastinating way too much lately…
I am too! It’s like, “Why do it now when I can do it later!”
Sometimes my procrastination is so fear-based, probably very tied in to the perfectionist point. But I can have ideas bubbling around in my head and as soon as I sit down to get them out, they fizzle. And sometimes it’s just hard work to write.