Procrastination is what holds us back from doing the things that are important to us.
Photo Credit: Caltee Smith
Forms of procrastination
There are many forms of procrastination. There is the simple wasting of time and putting things off till the last point possible. What comes to mind is doing the chores instead of writing, watching videos on YouTube for hours, or simply telling yourself that you should start at nine in the evening and not ten minutes earlier.
Procrastination has many other forms and often hides under the guise of tasks that at first glance seem important or necessary to us. We tell ourselves that we can’t stop writing our story because we first should carefully outline it and have an overview of all the chapters. We can’t edit our first draft yet, because we should read it through a second time to make sure we didn’t miss any errors or plot holes.
My personal struggle with procrastination
I used to be a major procrastinator who was obsessed with planning. Thinking back there are countless moments in my life when I indulged in it either consciously or subconsciously. My first attempt at writing a fantasy novel in my early twenties was ruined completely by too much procrastination. I wrote no more than fifty pages of it altogether. What I had done though was outline the whole thing down the individual chapters. I had drawn multiple maps, had created character sketches, mind maps and much more. The only thing I never really did was to sit down and get any actual writing done.
It was often the case that I carefully planned and organized things and gathered all sorts of material and information before I ever started to take action. Even with this blog, it took me quite some time to decide on a good name and I had to pretty much force myself to take action and start writing blog my first blog posts.
Finding Help against procrastination
I obviously noticed that I had to do something. One of the major reasons was the problem with getting my daily writing done first thing in the morning. Instead of sitting down and starting to write, I’d put it off by doing all sorts of other things or making excuses. It was not common for me to start an hour after I had planned to.
I started to search for a solution online and read a variety of blog posts on the topic, but nothing really helped. I checked lists of self-help books that talk about how to conquer procrastination and even decided on not one, but a few books to work through on the topic.
Then I found another thread in a forum in which someone asked for books on procrastination. It was there that someone said that reading about procrastination is the same as a procrastination itself. Instead, the person said, that you should simply sit down and start. You can try out whatever you want, but there was no other way.
The simple solution
This was what helped me. As dumb as it sounds, this one post was my solution. It was a wake-up call. I realized that all the tinkering around and searching for solutions against procrastination, was just another form of it. Spend hours reading a book about not procrastinating, is an excuse to do exactly doing that. It was ridiculouse.
Instead made it clear to myself again just how important writing was to me. It was not something that I should push off and avoid doing. I enjoyed writing. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was to start.
After that I decided on a way to do it. I set up an alarm right at the time I wanted to start writing. I told myself that right when that alarm rings, I had to sit down in front of my computer, open my word processor and start writing.
What I learned from this
Starting immediately helps:
The urgency of an alarm clock and starting right away is something that doesn’t allow me to think about writing and to come up with excuses. Instead I have to sit down and just start.
You won’t write better if you wait longer:
We often tell ourselves that we aren’t ready just yet and we need a few more minutes to get into the right mood or that we are still a little too tired. I learned that those are nothing but excuses. It doesn’t matter if I ‘prepare’ for an hour, the writing itself is as hard as if I start right away.
Getting things done immediately is motivating:
Not wasting an hour in the morning and powering through my writing right away had a very positive effect on the rest of my day. It felt great, I had a reason to be proud of myself and I was motivated to get the next thing done right away as well.
Create Clear Deadlines:
The urgency of the alarm clock taught me very well to incorporate clear deadlines into your activities. Working on my blog for X hours per week wasn’t helping me much to get things done. Instead I told myself I had to write at least one blog post per day. The same goes for my fiction writing. I give myself about a week per short story, before I share it. This doesn’t leave me enough time to think about my options or to procrastinate.
Once I realized these things, I changed my daily routine accordingly. For a long time I had been someone with a rather lax daily routine.
Don’t get me wrong I got up early and I did my work, but I did procrastinate like a pro between different tasks and activities. It wasn’t uncommon for me to sit in front of my computer till late at night and not being able to get enough sleep.
By now I have set up various alarms throughout my day that inform me that it is time to start tasks right away that I have to get done. While it might be a little restricting at times, my productivity went through the roof. Simply because there is no room for procrastination.
If you are someone who often struggles with procrastination, you should give my approach a try and see if it can work for you as well.