Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Procrastination: It Happens To Everyone

If you dispute this title’s accuracy, you’re no human I know.

I’m being hit hard with it today. Case in point: I was supposed to be at my studio office to start writing/marketing at 9:00 a.m. this morning. Instead, I: walked the dog, ran a quick errand, ate some food, tried not to fall asleep, read a couple chapters in Wicked Good Words, wrote a page in my journal, thought about stuff, made some masala chai, wrote a ‘to do’ list (blog post wasn’t on there; neither was anything I just listed), and finally made it to my office–though it still took me 40 minutes to start working on this post.

(Side note: the procrastination  time wasters I did after coming to the office included vacuuming and taking out the trash.)

This is me stubbornly (and creatively) not doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

10 Ways to Procrastinate–and then what to do about it

1.  Dance to music you’ve starred on Spotify.
2.  Read an article from the dozens you’ve got waiting in your email inbox. You know. The ones from the newsletters you sign up for, but forgot you did, and still save  them anyway to read Later.
3.  Do laundry.
4.  Wash your car–even cleaning the dashboard and dusting the vents.
5.  Organize your books alphabetically.
6.  Make a list of other things you need to do.
7.  Go through your email inbox. That’s work, right?
8.  Write a real letter to someone. With a stamp.
9.  Go grocery shopping. Which shows how much you really don’t want to do whatever you had originally set out to do (or actually not do), because grocery shopping is the worst!
10. Go to a meeting. ‘Cuz we all know how time-wasting those are.

So, what to do about procrastinating? I did promise to say something about that.  I personally extend a lot of energy at my procrastinating, so I’ve done the following over and over in my own life. Does that mean it doesn’t actually work?–because I have to keep coming back to it? No. It means I procrastinate. And when it gets out of hand, I do something about it.
1.  Take some of that precious time that your procrastinating away and acknowledge that you’re off track. Some signs of this off-trackness are: restlessness, the feeling that something’s off/unsettled, the sensation that you’re spinning your wheels, feeling like nothing you do is working, or that you can’t seem to find enough time to do anything–your To Do List is miles long.
2.  Identify what the sticking point is. What item, or items, on your To Do List keep getting shuffled to the next day’s list? The ones perpetually un-done. Un-doable.
3.  Why do you suppose they are so hard for you right now? Is something else in the way? Do you have to get other things done first before you can cross the big bad one off? Recognize that there may be a psychological reason that is blocking you from getting it done. Maybe it’s fear of looking dumb if you do it, or fear of failing if you try. Maybe it’s just not your thing. Or maybe you just don’t want to do it. And that’s okay.
4. If you’ve done your personal work to see what is lurking underneath the not-doing-the-wretched-thing-on-your-list, and you’ve discovered it’s not the right time in your life to spend energy on it, or you can delegate it away, or it turns out you just don’t care about it like you thought you did, give yourself permission to cross it off the list FOREVER. Just don’t do it. What’s the worst that could happen if you didn’t?
5.  If you’ve done your personal work and you have determined it needs to stay on the list, probably the item is to big to be on the list. An example of this might be: Pack up the house. (For the move you know you’ve got coming up this summer.) In this case, you’ll need to break it down into smaller workable steps. Pack up the house could then become:  Decide what I don’t want to bring with me from the living room. A much more workable step. A general rule of thumb is, if you can’t get a project done in 30-60 minutes, it needs to be broken down.

I hope these tips will help you get moving on your projects and lists, and that procrastination (with a capital P) doesn’t keep you detained for long.

What things do you find yourself procrastinating from? What tips do you have for me?

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