I don’t plan on saying this in every post in this series, but, yes, while writing this post about finding ways to rid ourselves of procrastination, I fell victim to tomorrow logic, as I’m prone to. Before I share a few ways that we can rid ourselves of it, I wanted to share the official definition of procrastination which is as follows:
: to be slow or late about doing something that should be done : to delay doing something until a later time because you do not want to do it, because you are lazy, etc. [emph. added.]
Since “because you are lazy, etc.” seems like such a foreign way for a dictionary to put it, that made me crack up.
To continue on with our post, here are the strategies that I’ve come up with:
Strategy #1: This strategy is your good old-fashioned pen and a pad of paper. Make yourself a list. Externalizing what you have to do is enough for many of us to get motivated.
Strategy #2: Ask your Responsible Self, “Why do I need to do [blank: insert what you’re procrastinating about here]? And tell yourself why. Usually it doesn’t take much. Something as simple as “Because I have a deadline,” has worked for me in the past.
I’m a big fan of this strategy. Every time I actually ask myself that question and tell myself why I have to do whatever, it makes me feel like all the obstacles are taken out of the way and I’m ready and prepared to work on my current project which is usually a blog post or design work.
Strategy #3: Tell someone your creative goals and then set a later date at which that person will check up on you; if you know that someone’s expecting you to get you personal creative goals done or what have you, you’ll most likely get the project done.
Strategy #4: Don’t plan, don’t tell. For some people, having any type of schedule or external expectations can hamper creativity and make folks put it off even more. One of my blogging friends, Wei, put it this way: “Sometimes the self-made pressure to create suffocates inspiration.”
Strategy #5: Make decisions before you get to the spot where you’re procrastinating. Write yourself an if-then statement. Usually if-thens contain logical fallacies, but not in this case. “If I feel bored and unmotivated and want to check social media, then I’ll go outside for five minutes,” or, “If I’m tempted to read a few more pages of this book I’m enjoying, then I’ll organize my workspace,” are some things that I’ve said to myself.
Strategy #6: Set fixed times when the only thing that you can do is the things that you’ve scheduled. To avoid other distractions, turn off your phone or work in your library or favorite coffeeshop.
Strategy #7: Make your work fun. Studies have shown that play fuels exploration and as well as enhances our ability to function on the mundane, day-to-day tasks. Plus, it makes our creative work feel more like an indulgence, one of the reasons we were probably drawn to our respective artforms in the first place.
Strategy #8: Taking a walk outside for fifteen minutes or so helps to clear your mind and also counts as exercising, so that’s two birds with one stone.
Strategy #9: Organize. External order creates inward calm, as I’ve said before. Sometimes all that needs to be done is to put a few books back on the shelf, recycle random pieces of paper (if they cannot be reused, of course), or even something as simple as making your bed.
Strategy #10: Recognize procrastination for what it is: Fear. There’s a reason that you’re putting off whatever creative thing that you’re doing. That reason, most of the time, boils down to fear. Externalize it. I heard of a woman who drew the negative voices in her head (one of them being the subject of this post) as tiny little monsters and then put them on a t-shirt. You could write a letter to your fear, like Elizabeth Gilbert does, telling it that while it can come on a creative journey, it doesn’t get any say in what you’re going to do.
Procrastination will plague most of us almost all the time. I’m still figuring out how to get over myself and get to doing my work, and it is not easy. Creativity requires brainpower, willpower, and not more than a magnitude of discipline. I’ve got faith in you to stick with it. 🙂
Please let me know if these strategies work for you, and tell me other ways that you overcome procrastination. I’m always trying to find new ways to make my practice more efficient and enjoyable.