Professional Procrastinator Club – Let’s Reduce the Membership

Let’s start with a show of hands.

How many of you will admit (as I do) to being a professional procrastinator? Okay, I see a few. No need to be shy. Okay, a few nods instead of hands, that’ll do.

How many of you can find *so* many other things to do instead of writing? Lots of nodding and smiling.

And when you procrastinate, does ‘that voice’ in your head ask you questions like:

  • Why am I avoiding the inevitable? It has to get done one way or another!
  • Why am I putting this off? Cleaning the grout can wait a few more hours… or days!
  • What’s the matter with me? I don’t feel a cold/headache/illness coming on, but maybe I should rest just in case

Before I even finished the second paragraph (second paragraph) up there, I clicked over to another browser tab, logged into a client’s twitter account, and replied to a “thank you for following” message. And then I went to my email and checked that. I finally came back here to finish this post. The post needs to be written! Why am I dragging my feet? I’m fired up about the topic, what’s my problem?

I’ve had shiny object syndrome since before it involved dust bunnies. I mean, honestly, how crazy is procrastination? It’s like (the definition of) insanity, except instead of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, procrastinators constantly find ways to avoid doing what they want/love/need/have to do knowing full well the task has to be done!

This weekend I unplugged and sorted through some old boxes of ‘stuff’ in order to see what I could toss. I have so many magazines and books that needed to be thinned out.

WritingOnBothSidesOfTheBrainI discovered one book that prompted this post — Writing on Both Sides of the Brain (Amazon link, I’m not an affiliate). Amazingly, it’s still available! The last copyright is 1987 and I know I’ve had it since it was new.

I have a bookmark tucked in at Page 18. (The book has 144 pages). That’s appalling, isn’t it? But it’s not as dark as it seems, I was on my second read through before my morning journaling (the author is a proponent of writing first thing in the morning) became my focus.

The reason I mention the book is because it’s a great combination of instruction and exercise. And Chapter 6 (of 9) is all about turning procrastination around. The chapter title is:  Procrastination: Not Just Around but Behind It.

The first exercise in the chapter is to make a list of ALL the ways you avoid writing. I’ve already listed a few above and more have happened during the writing of this post. The Internet was not a distraction back in 1987 – so imagine how my list today compares to my list from back then!

After creating a list, there are some thoughts and suggestions for analyzing your resistance to writing. Then a couple more exercises. The work is very insightful.

Apparently I forgot my way over the years and need a refresher, so will be spending the next few weeks working through the chapters and exercises in this book again. I’m determined to get procrastination out of my system – it’s so much more productive to simply get a task done than put it off and stress over it not being done yet.

Have you found a cure for procrastination?

I’m hoping membership in the Professional Procrastinator Club goes to zero so we can close the doors and banish the word from our vocabulary. Any reduction in membership will be great, though.

 

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She’s always trying new things in order to use her time most effectively – and 2014 will see her combat procrastination once and for all. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

44 thoughts on “Professional Procrastinator Club – Let’s Reduce the Membership

    • Then you must be like me, writing for fun, not professionally, not to earn a living.

      I wrote a blog post the other day about how I procastinated even when there’s a deadline coming in about 30 minutes.

      In fact, I wrote that post when I was about to have a client presentation in the exact next 30 minutes – when I was supposed to go through the file, read again the points and come up with the best idea.

      • Haha oh no! Hope the presentation went well. Sometimes I do better under pressure. We relocated to Singapore for my husband’s job, so unpaid writing for fun has kin dof become my “job.” I’m very lucky for the opportunity and I’m trying to make the most of it!

      • I write professionally as well as for myself, and although I hit professional deadlines consistently, I could complete them sooner. It’s definitely my ‘fun’ writing that has taken the back seat on the bus lately. Deadlines with a financial reward motivate me it seems. 🙂 Self-imposed deadline are flexible.

  1. I have to say, getting straight up out of bed, brewing a cuppa and sitting down to write is the only way I get any substantial amount on the page. If I wait til later in the day my mind is too busy and alert to get into ‘creative’ mode. It’s just a shame that my real-world job starts at 9am, so I tend to scribble things down in the week and really get stuck in at the weekends.

  2. Procrastination and I are firm buddies, despite my feeble efforts over the years to sever the relationship! At almost 60 years old, I think I could be finally waking up to the fact that I haven’t got all that much time left to waste. I even used procrastination as my “Life Experiences” subject when taking part in a scrapbook circle journal some years ago.

    About lists, one book I read suggested that there is a real aversion to doing anything about the item on the top of the list. As a result, stuff only gets done when there is something more important to avoid. Yes, that makes sense to me. Here I am in Reader when I should be writing my one miserable scene for the day.

    Good luck with the change!

    • Thanks, Christine. I can believe the top-of-the-list item is the toughest. And it’s true that we do what’s most important to us, so I do have work to do in that regard – I can I truly feel procrastination (in any form) is more important than writing?

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope you got your scene done!

  3. This entry is oh SO familiar! I didn’t used to be a procrastinator; I seemed to fall into it when I stopped work with a disability problem. Now it has a hold on me. But I am working to overcome it in my writing.
    I have been doing the April A to Z Blog Challenge, and I am so happy to say that I have done every post every day – just by allocating the time to do it.
    Now I have to do the same thing with writing my second novel which I am 2/3 the way through!

  4. HA — I diverted myself from completing my Monday to-do list to read this post!
    The book you reference sounds very useful. My procrastination is rooted in fear (“I’m not a good writer,” “I’m not qualified to take on this project”), occasional laziness (“I can do it later, now I’m going to look at Facebook”), and my inability to say “no” to certain projects. My business coach is still helping me get past my procrastination issues and I’ve been a successful freelance writer for 8 years!

    For me, it’s useful to break down larger projects into smaller tasks so I can not only see what I accomplished but feel good about it. My coach also suggested setting aside just 15 minutes to get started on a project (usually in the morning, when I’m most productive) and only do it for 15 minutes. Often that’s just what I need to get going for real.

    • Hi Debbie — I’m glad you diverted to this post and commented, sorry it was a shiny object at the start of your day, tho! We’ve been freelancing the same amount of time! I have those same voices in my head at times, too.

      That 15-minute limit works well and it’s so amazing to discover how much can get done in such a short time, isn’t it?

    • Thank you for sharing the poem. I don’t think I’ve ever seen nincompoops used in verse before… I can relate to a lot in what you said — I think that’s my problem — I enjoy the pure soaking in of my natural surroundings. I could sit and watch a stream flow over rocks for a long time. I spend minutes gazing up into trees (when I should be running) trying to identify the bird singing, and so many other things like that. There is definite joy in just ‘being’. 🙂

  5. My current main issue is that I write most of my work while my child is asleep so I spend a lot of time freaking out that my (almost) 2 year old is about to wake or sounds funny or isn’t snoring or or or or and then I think I should probably clean, feed/take out the dogs, etc.

    It is truly a wonder that I get anything done at all some days!
    http://www.alaynabellesmom.wordpress.com

    • hee hee, I know what you mean! Sometimes I wonder when the phone will ring and interrupt me, or when the neighbor will start being obnoxious — and try to rush to beat that unknowing invisible deadline, but with always an ear to any sound. It’s too crazy at times. 🙂

  6. I’ve never tried writing in the morning, but that might be because I seem to procrastinate on even getting out of bed! I can find any excuse to put off my own writing, which is ridiculous because I enjoy writing.

  7. I procrastinate about paying bills and writing my more “serious” writing. My blog posts I do not procrastinate with. They are easy to write. Cooking is a breeze. But working on that second novel chapter leaves me looking at shoe sales on line…

      • I usually buy the shoes! Hah! No, I work really hard to shut that down and get to the task at hand. I think the real procrastination happens when I read blog posts, because when have I really read enough? There are so many good ones out there!

  8. I find that if I peek in my inbox then hours fly by because I don’t like unread emails. Other than that I also feel compelled to do housework when I am not at the office which also takes up chunks of my writing time.

    • I’ve spent the past week cleaning out my emails — unsubscribing from numerous newsletters and changing settings so I don’t get notified about every post in every group I belong to. Email is definitely a time suck! I seldom feel compelled to do housework or cook, tho 🙂

  9. I work as a freelance writer from home. Talk about a recipe for procrastination. I started with the Ben Franklin quote “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” I found that repeating this as a mantra of sorts reminds me that it’s worth it to just get it done. That way, next time I’m invited to an impromptu day at the beach, I can say “YES!” because I got my work done. 🙂

    Alexa — http://www.newlywednotdead.com

    • I work out of my home too – and keep wondering “if I had an office to go to would it make a difference?” I don’t think it would.

      I *do* like how you get your work done in preparation for an impromptu beach day, though. That is quite inspiring since I’ve said ‘no thanks’ on many occasions because I’ve procrastinated on work. Thank you so much for sharing that. I’m going to let it roll around in my brain and see if that gets the muse to come out and play more. 🙂

  10. This is an incredible post, because as I originally read the headline at 8:00 am this morning, it wasn’t until after eating breakfast, a two mile walk, washing some clothes that at 2:00 pm I began reading the post during which I checked out the book on the Amazon site along with the author’s second book being promoted “Write It Down, Make It Happen, Knowing What You Want and Getting It”, that I finally returned to finish read your post. I know procrastination very well and will enjoy this book.
    Thanks!.

  11. Pingback: Professional Procrastinator Club – Let’s Reduce the Membership | 007pandas's Blog

  12. Reblogged this on 007pandas's Blog and commented:
    This is an incredible post, because as I originally read the headline at 8:00 am this morning, it wasn’t until after eating breakfast, a two mile walk, washing some clothes that at 2:00 pm I began reading the post during which I checked out the book on the Amazon site along with the author’s second book being promoted “Write It Down, Make It Happen, Knowing What You Want and Getting It”, that I finally returned to finish read your post. I know procrastination very well and will enjoy this book.

    Thanks Lisa!

  13. I love this post!

    I will totally admit to bouts of chronic procrastination. Once, on having a whole pile of essays to mark, I managed to convince myself that what I really needed to do was to watch an episode of a show called ‘Lie To Me’ on Netflix, because Tim Roth would motivate me to be brilliant at getting things done. I watched every episode ever made over three days (three full seasons – about 60 or so episodes). Season 3 was a little disappointing, but by which point I had found something way more aligned to my disposition to do obsessively.

    I hate marking, sometimes.

    • My brother got me hooked on Hulu+ and I’ve had similar bouts of absorbing seasons of shows in a sitting, or 3 episodes at a time telling myself “after I watch THIS episode, I’ll write X”. We writing types can be creative in procrastination techniques, I think!

  14. You’re right, Lisa — I find myself procrastinating all the time! One of my methods is to sit down and write something random and completely unrelated, like a short story or a poem. That gets me thinking and wanting to write even more. Then, once I finish that, I’m ready to work on my main project.

    Oh, as wordsthatscream mentioned, a cuppa always helps too! Coincidentally, my most recent post was entitled “My Cup of Tea.” Tea stimulates the brain and relaxes it at the same time, which makes for a perfect companion when I’m writing. Check out my post when you’ve got a minute! 🙂

    • I’d like to switch from coffee to tea, but haven’t done it yet — as I’m more into the ‘iced’ versions and those take a little prep and planning, and, well, I always procrastinate and never get to it. If there was a nearby cafe I could go to for an iced drink each morning, I would.

      Your trick about writing something random – definitely a great idea. That’s how I write in the mornings, just freewrite to empty my brain and it’s how I make discoveries and am inspired to write more. All this talking about procrastination is helping me overcome it!

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