TIP 342: Overcoming procrastination by TRACI SANDERS
April 22, 2017
This tip, and many others on surviving authorhood, can be found in Living The Write Life: Tips on making the most of your writing skills, now available in digital and paperback format.
Okay, let me start by acknowledging that there is a big difference between taking the time to ponder an option to make an informed decision, and avoiding something through procrastination.
I am a productive person, as anyone who knows me will tell you. I’m never bored and I don’t embrace idle time. That’s just who I am. However, there are certain things I procrastinate about—cleaning my bathrooms, doing my taxes, and emptying the fridge, to name a few.
But when it comes to something I’m passionate about, I am the opposite of a procrastinator. I jump in with both feet and go full speed until something stops me.
However, I know that not everyone is of that mindset. Some people like to take their time to make decisions, and while I can respect that, opportunities tend to pass us by when we wait too long.
Here are 11 ways to battle (true) procrastination:
1. Set a real deadline for a project and write it down. Simply saying you plan to do something is an idea. Writing it down and working toward it makes it a goal. Stick to it and get the work done. If you say you want to write 1000 words per day, do it. Otherwise, it’s much like that disgusting toilet. As time passes, it will only get harder to tackle.
2. Change up your routine. If you are the type of person who is not easy to motivate every day, try getting dressed as if you are going out first thing in the morning, rather than lounging around in your PJs all day. Just because you “work at home” doesn’t mean you have to look like homemade sin. I always feel better when I get up and brush my teeth and hair first thing, even before I eat breakfast. It may sound weird, but it gets me “in the mode” for productivity every day.
3. Instead of one large goal, break it down into several smaller goals. If you are a goal-oriented person like me, it will be satisfying and validating to check off even the smallest of tasks each day.
4. Enlist help and then stick to your deadlines. If you can get someone (preferably a spouse) to watch the kiddos and maybe handle dinner one evening, perhaps you will be more motivated and focused.
5. Prioritize your daily tasks. I personally choose to get my most-challenging or least-favorite tasks out of the way first. But if you’d rather do the more-enjoyable ones first, feel free.
6. Eliminate distraction. Learn what your distracting patterns are. Do you turn the TV on first thing in the morning? Check emails? Surf the Internet? Try doing that after your tasks (or at least a few of them) have been completed. Change your routine if it’s not working.
7. Set a reward for reaching your goals or finishing mundane, dreaded tasks. But don’t let it be something too distracting.
8. Have others keep you accountable if you must. Tell them about your big projects and ask them to help keep you on track.
9. Don’t be a perfectionist. Many people procrastinate because they are afraid of “getting it wrong” or “not doing it well enough” (to their standards). Sometimes you must let go of a little bit of that control and say, “Good enough is good enough.” Of course, I’m not saying settle for sub-par efforts or results. But don’t stress over it so much that it affects your health. You will always be harder on yourself than anyone else. Give yourself a break every now and then.
10. Learn to forgive yourself. You are not evil or selfish because you didn’t make that deadline, reach that word count, or finish that certain task. You are human, and humans are not perfect. Give it your best effort and that will shine through in your results. If you are sick or stressed out, you will not produce good work.
11. Use apps that help you track your progress. There are even some that connect you with your friends to compare or share results.
I must point out that if you are experiencing panic or true stress over a certain project or task, it may not be the right one for you, if it’s affecting your health. Only you can decide that. Perhaps you need to get someone else to help or manage it for you? Perhaps you need to break it down into several weeks rather than hours or days?
Be realistic in your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. Don’t stretch yourself more than you can handle, but do challenge yourself.
Having said this, many people (especially creatives) are much more efficient at working under stressful situations and even produce their best work during these times. Therefore, you must learn what works for you. Figure out why you are procrastinating and then construct a game plan to tackle it!
April 11, 2017 -
Thanks to all of you, there were nearly 5,000 downloads of my Vegas mystery novel, IMPLOSION, during my recent 5-day free promo. I figure that if 1% of those read it and review it on amazon, in the next 6 months I should be able to garner at least 50 new reviews. If a minimum of 2% do it, the book will be swingin’! I’ll report back in 6 months...