They say you should write what you know. Today, I am going to write about procrastination, (which is actually a contradiction of terms). Believe it or not, I haven’t been meaning to write this post for a while. It came as an epiphany when I realized what was keeping me from continuing my blog. I imagine I am not the only procrastinator on the planet.
On a scale of 1 being garden-variety procrastinators to 10 being chronic procrastinators, I would rate myself pathological. I could write a book about how to avoid getting things done…and I will, someday.
I periodically get into productive mode and make “to do” lists, of which a few of the more enticing tasks do actually get done, but there are always those odious tasks (“clean off desk,” “organize paintings,” “figure out what I want to be when I grow up,”) that somehow never get addressed. They will bounce around from pants pocket to pants pocket until they end up in a pile on my desk, a dresser drawer, under the couch, lining the cat box, etc. My “to do” lists are similar to Stephen Wright’s seashell collection: “…which I keep scattered on the beaches all over the world.”
I can’t say what works. I’ve read many “solutions” which work for other people. I have created many “solutions” which probably work for other people. Every “solution” I’ve found has worked for a short period of time before life’s turbulences and/or ADD knock me off course. Still figuring out what works for me; probably an eclectic potpourri of solutions.
I’m currently forcing myself back into productivity and this post is my Declaration of War** Within.
Here are my top 5 go-to solutions. I hope some or all work for you.
- Set a timer for both beginning and ending a task. Give yourself a ridiculously small amount of time that you have to endure doing the task, like 7 minutes or even 3. Even if that’s the time it takes to set up the project and put it away. You will build the practice of getting started, which is usually the hardest part of procrastination. Next time, do 8 minutes. Or 3 1/2.
- Buy a pack of 3×5 note cards (assorted colors are best, and until then, a folded sheet of printer paper or junk mail envelope will do). Get a pen with a clip. Put one card in your pocket and clip pen to it. NEVER LEND OUT THIS PEN *.
- Identify a reward system: “when I get this task done, I will give myself X.” (X=a visit to the snack machine,
- Identify the activities which you would use to procrastinate. Put them on your “to do” list. Use them as rewards. Set a timer.
- Change the energy in the room. Something in you knows you’re wasting time. Right now: Stop what you’re doing. Stand up. Say, “Yop!” Stand on one foot. Get a drink of water.
I have more to say on this subject. Guess when I’ll get around to that?
* Okay, I occasionally lend out my pen. But I buy special archival ink pens that cost $2-3 bucks each. When I lend it out, I hang onto the cap, so pen thieves get a stain in their pocket.
** By “War,” I do mean “peaceful transition of power.” It’s just not as catchy. “Declaration of Peaceful Transition of Power” sounds like the notice when I don’t pay the electric bill.