I hate procrastination, and yet I do it. Instead of focusing on writing, I reread previous scenes, or tell myself that I’ll write tomorrow, because I’m too tired to think.
Sometimes procrastination can be useful. For example, if you’re bored with a scene in your novel, and you keep putting it off — that may be a sign from your creative self that there’s something wrong with the scene.
Procrastination may even be a good thing.
Creative procrastination may be a good thing
Around 20 per cent of adults claim to chronic procrastinators, but they may also be more creative, according to scientists.
Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton Business School, said he was first alerted to the theory when one of his “most creative students” told him she had her most original ideas after she procrastinated.
It’s a comforting article, but chances are that you want to conquer procrastination, rather than make your peace with it.
Try these tips.
1. Work backwards from your goal: chunk down projects into itty bitty, five minute tasks
All the work you have to do on a big, complex project can seem overwhelming. You’ll spend months on the project, so you might as well start on it tomorrow, when you’re fresh.
Instead of putting off the project, or task, chunk them down.
Start from the end: you’ve completed the first draft of your novel, let’s say. Working backwards, you need to create a list of scenes. You also need to decide on your characters, their goals, and attributes… You also need to write a blurb.
Today, spend five minutes on the blurb, nothing else. Tomorrow, another five minutes. Sooner or later, you’ll find that your five minutes has extended to 20 minutes, then 40. Finally, you’re happily and enthusiastically writing your novel.
2. When you’re facing a big writing project, write first each day, and accept whatever you write
Life is full of “shoulds.” You should do this and that… Procrastination leads to depression, so that you’re half-convinced that there’s no point in trying, because you’ll fail anyway.
Tell yourself that tomorrow, as soon as you get out of bed, you’ll spend five minutes on your novel — or whatever project’s inspired your procrastination.
Just write, and be satisfied with what you wrote. You can always fix it later, but you can’t fix what you don’t write.
3. Recognize the enemy within: realize that you’re sabotaging yourself
When you should be doing something, and you can’t force yourself to do it, recognize that you’re sabotaging yourself.
We think of procrastination as an irrational delay because our reasons for action simply aren’t sufficient to motivate action. More accurately, procrastination is a-rational, without reason—because the real issue is emotional… we focus on short-term mood repair: Feel good now, worry about that intention later.
Think about any tasks which you commonly delay. What’s the pay off you’re getting? Is it worth it?
Recognizing self-sabotage when it happens helps you to confront your demons, and get things done.