Dealing With Procrastination
Right now I am procrastinating. I should be working on writing a story about American Legion Baseball, but I’m writing this blog post instead.
I am not a serial procrastinator—in fact, rarely do I procrastinate. But when there is a story that I know I have to write on a topic that I’m not all that interested in, I tend to put it off. I KNOW that I will get it done, eventually, because I have to, it’s just hard to get started.
I’m sure many of you know exactly what I’m talking about. Whether it’s writing a story, balancing your checkbook, or working on your website design—when it’s not something you’re totally excited about, it’s easy to push it to the side.
I wrote a blog post last month that talked about how procrastination can actually be essential to innovation. I have never been the type of person to thrive on procrastination to get stuff done. Heck—I have a full time job, a part time job, and I freelance! I don’t have TIME to procrastinate!
There was a great article posted on FastCompany.com about how to beat procrastination and get down to work. Their tips can help freelancers as well as anyone who has a tendency to put things off until later.
Knowing and acknowledging when you’re actually procrastinating, and knowing what’s likely to trigger it, is probably your best defense against the monster that makes you feel busy without feeling productive. —FastCompany.com
Catching yourself in the act of procrastination is the first step in getting past it. Here are some of their tips:
Deal With Clutter
Your inbox can be empty, your to-do list entirely reasonable, but clutter gives away your latent procrastination. —FastCompany.com
Yikes! Not cleaning my desk is a form of procrastination? Apparently so. By not making a decision what do to with all of these multicolored sticky notes, pads of paper, business cards, and empty water bottles, I’m procrastinating. I am deliberately telling myself that I don’t feel like dealing with it. Which I don’t.
Cleaning my desk is always the last thing on my to-do list. I’m more concerned with checking my voicemail and email messages, updating my Twitter feed and Facebook pages, and making sure my website is updated and operating correctly. But that doesn’t mean my desk doesn’t need to be cleaned…
Stop Waiting for the Right Time
Rather than do the things that seem far more emotionally draining than they are actually, physically demanding, we talk about projects with people, or mess with the tools we have to do them–find the right add-on, tweak the settings, add more contacts to LinkedIn. —FastCompany.com
You’ve heard it said, or you’ve said it yourself, “I’ll start that diet on Monday,” or “I’ll start going to the gym after vacation.” The same goes for your work life. There is no perfect time to start in on that project—so do it now!
Maybe you do this too—there’s an email that comes in that I mark as important. Usually for me this means I need to do something for someone. But I keep putting it off, waiting for the task to become convenient, which it never does. What I find embarrassing is when I get a second email from that person, asking me to do whatever it is I need to do. That’s when I snap into action. I hate asking people twice for something, and I hate having to be asked twice, but it happens.
When there’s an article I have to write that I’m not jazzed about, starting in on the research is always the hardest part. But once I get over that hump, set up some interviews, and start organizing my thoughts, the rest just follows. So instead of color coordinating your sock drawer or spending hours archiving your past projects for the past five years, make a conscious decision to start making progress on what is in front of you.
Do The Hard Stuff First
This post on FastCompany.com talks about decision fatigue—an interesting theory on how we can make better decisions.
Want to plan your day, your meetings, and your commute better? Factor in how your body and brain may make bad decisions after being worn down from making the right moves earlier in the day. —FastCompany.com
Making good decisions can be compromised if you have spent too much time and willpower earlier in the day. Listening to your internal clock can help schedule out your day. Instead of spending an hour each morning, when you are most alert, doing things like checking your Facebook page and answering emails, use that time to start in on that daunting project—and do the other, less meaningful stuff afterward.