It seems every writing, personal growth and time management book/website has how to overcome procrastination as a juicy topic.
Surely with all of this advice on how to overcome the procrastination beast, no one is still out there putting things off till tomorrow or the next day or the one after that.
Surely they are all getting busy and getting the job done, whatever the job may be.
Or are they?
I used to be a shocking procrastinator. If procrastinating was an Olympic sport, in the past I would have been a gold medallist winner. I am now reformed. Okay, well not quite. I still have the occasional relapse.
Here are my thoughts on how to overcome procrastination. See if you can relate to any.
Thinking alone won’t get the job done
Thinking about writing a blog post and publishing a completed post are not the same thing. Not even close.
When I was freelancing, I came across an interesting writing assignment I could apply for. So what was my next move? I procrastinated. Then I procrastinated some more.
While I was constantly running through ideas in my head and mentally writing my articles, I failed to put anything on paper. Finally after much deliberation I took action – but it was too late. The publication already had enough applicants. Applicants who had not procrastinated.
Set due dates
When I was working as a personal assistant in an accounting department, we had set due dates on certain tasks. Month end meant work that had to be done by a certain time.
The short story competitions I was entering also had strict deadlines. You simply can’t miss a due date.
As a blogger, I find myself getting to set my own deadlines. Initially I found myself pushing out dates a day or two, longer in some cases which greatly impacted my productivity. While flexibility is a desired characteristic for a blogger working on their own – procrastinating and shifting deadlines to suit the mood is not.
Set your deadlines and stick to them.
Related post – The Importance of Hitting Deadlines
Pick your priorities
The garden in my courtyard is a mess. It has more weeds than plants and the weeds seem to be multiplying at an alarming rate. I often think I would like to clean out the garden but I never do. To my friends who are keen gardeners, it’s a crime against nature.
For me as a non-gardener, it’s not a priority.
If I suddenly started gardening instead of writing, that would be a major concern. Don’t stress over everything you don’t get done. Instead focus on priorities.
Make a decision
Some of my procrastination involves making decisions.
Often we labor over a decision only to realize that we have the option of changing our minds later anyway, if our initial decision doesn’t turn out to be the right fit for us.
Certain situations can actually benefit from a little procrastination, particularly in arguments with loved ones. Having a bit of time to calm down and think about what you want to say instead of blurting out something hurtful, can do wonders.
Ask yourself the hard questions
Whatever I start to procrastinate now, I ask myself where is this resistance coming from?
Nine out of ten times it will be fear, pure and simple.
Acknowledging that fact seems to help me. Whilst the fear of failure may raise its ugly head occasionally, my fear of not trying is much stronger. Make fear work for you instant of against.
What’s your excuse?
Procrastinators always have an excuse. At least I always did.
I could always find a justification for not doing what had to be done.
My favorite excuse for not writing was my office was too hot. Come to think of it that one is actually true. One of my friends nearly passed out after 15 minutes in my office and I had been slaving over my PC through the hottest part of the day to get a project finished.
Now I have a shiny new laptop which means I can work downstairs in the air-conditioning on hot days. No excuses. My point – try to eliminate as many excuse triggers as possible.
Related post – 6 Ways to Ditch Your Excuses
Don’t turn into a ‘going to’ person
We all know someone (or we are that person ourselves) who is going to start their own business one day or take that overseas trip or learn that language or whatever it is they want to do.
They are always going to do it but never actually do. They talk about it and fantasize about what it would be like. They procrastinate again and again taking no action to make it a reality. Regret is often something these people have to deal with down the line. Don’t let that be you.
Related post – Are You All Talk and No Action and How to Turn that Around?
Don’t tempt yourself
An episode of my favorite show with all of the ads taken out is about 40 minutes. How much harm can that do? Actually a lot when you are meant to be working. Particularly if one short episode turns into one full DVD.
If you know temptation will get the better of you, don’t go there in the first place.
Rewards don’t just work for kids. Adults seem to love them too.
I tend to set myself rewards on the weekend when I am trying to get some extra work done but all I really feel like doing is relaxing. Just make sure it’s a reasonable reward. Ten minutes writing is not worth two hours shopping.
Rewards work best when they are balanced so as not to affect your productivity or feeling of accomplishment.
Related post – How to Reward Yourself the Right Way
Valid reason to down tools
Occasionally when I know I should do something but just don’t want to, there is a valid reason.
When I was working full time and writing part-time that meant working 40 hours a week as well as several nights during the week after work and often weekends as well.
What I didn’t realize on the weeks where I was working 7 days, what I needed was a break. Taking a break felt like I was procrastinating but it was actually my body saying slow down and recharge, your writing will benefit from the downtime.
Do you procrastinate? Which technique can you use to overcome procrastination?
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