I wrote before about Completion Anxiety and how that fear-disguised-as-delay can so easily turn into procrastination. I remain convinced that there are degrees of procrastination which can be identified by their core reason. When you can get to the bottom of WHY you’re putting something off, you can start working on steps to getting it done.
That said, sometimes it feels like there is nothing you can do to force yourself to get to work. I know. I am a Master Procrastinator. And sometimes I must resort to actual tactics and trick myself into getting things done. I’ve organized closets in order to not write. I mean, why work when you can curl up by the fire with your thick wooly socks and your faithful dogs by your side and read a book, or better yet: nap, right?
Alas, even I must get my stuff done and so the self-trickery begins. You may be wondering how it is possible to trick oneself. This is not exactly magic, here. You can be both the Great and Powerful Oz behind the curtain and sweet Dorothy Gale on the other side. But it is simpler than that, thank the stars, because who needs to add more work to the lack of work, all in order to get to work? Not I.
So, what can you do when the Procrastination Machine has you tied down to the gears of time and your poor project is a few cogs ahead of you about to be squashed as your deadline approaches?
1. Reward Yourself – I used to scoff at my fellow writers who would buy themselves a cupcake or other delectable treat and place it on display knowing they would not be able to devour all the tasty goodness until they reached whatever goal they had set for themselves. That is silly, I’d say to myself. Who could fall for that? As an aside: Don’t ever say these things out loud to your friends because then you will have to eat your words when they share their completed project and you’re still making excuses.
For today… I have this in my possible future: delish!
A cuppa and some of my homemade Peach Amazing (my kids named it that). I can’t have it until I get this chapter completed. Just one tiny chapter and all the above is mine! I’m already getting motivated! Can you feel it?
2. Schedule Your Time – A doctor friend of mine once told me his secret to getting it all done: He and his wife schedule almost every moment of every day, even if the time slot says: free time. This way he can tell people “Sorry, I’m booked.” and mean it when he has things he needs to do. I’ve tried this and it is a powerful tool. It automatically sets your boundaries for you and forces you to stay on track.
Granted, I can’t possibly schedule every waking moment unless I use tags like: after-school-snack-mayhem-15 minutes, fight-about-homework-20 minutes, get-all-kids-to-bed-*not*: 1 hour. You get the idea. So give this one a try in a way that works for you. You might be surprised.
3. Gather Momentum With To-Do Lists – Lists are wonderful motivators. I’m a fan. When you make a list of the things you need to do and then cross them off, it gives you a sense of satisfaction you can’t get anywhere else. Give yourself credit for everything you’ve gotten done and suddenly you start to see that you are getting something finished (this feels good, and you will want more of it). But the trick is to put your project on that list… and then no skipping over it to do something else!
So, stop fighting it and just own the fact that you’re trapped in the lair of the Procrastination Monster. Tell yourself that you are bigger than your project and you refuse to lose. Break your project into smaller chunks if the big ones are holding you back.
What do you do to stay ahead of Procrastination?