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.
I 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. 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 Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.