We’re all prone to procrastination, especially us writers. The time just slips away as we find all manner of reasons not to do what we should. Although there are, you’ll be glad to hear, things we can do to overcome procrastination once and for all, but I’ll tell you about those later. (See what I did there?)
First, we need to look at the reasons we procrastinate. It’s likely we all have different reasons for procrastination. Perhaps we have a mixture of reasons or the reason is different for each individual instance. The point here is that by understanding some possible reasons, we’re more likely to notice them when they begin to show up in our lives.
Fear of failure
This is one of the biggest reasons we procrastinate. If we don’t undertake a particular task or venture, we can’t fail at it. If the thing remains conceptual, success is eternally possible. If we work to bring it into reality, it may crash down and break about our feet. Does this sound familiar to you? Have you had this show up in your life or the life of someone you know?
Lack of motivation
Sometimes the reason we procrastinate is far less glamorous. Sometimes we simply can’t be bothered. We may have lost motivation with a particular project or it may be showing up in several areas of our life. Have you ever felt like you lacked motivation?
Lack of Organisation
Not knowing where to start can be utterly paralysing. There can be times when your whole life feels like chaos and disorder. If you lack the necessary organisation skills and tools, making progress in anything is going to be arduous at best!
Okay, so they’re some of the main reasons you might be procrastinating. Do any of them ring true? Understanding that there is often a reason behind your procrastination can be a powerful first step in tackling the problem and moving forwards in your life. So how exactly can we overcome procrastination? What can we do to mitigate these symptoms of procrastination?
#1 Reframe failure
If you’re to become a force for change in your own life, you must undergo a paradigm shift. You must reframe failure in your mind. Now I’m not saying we need to delude ourselves, I’m merely talking about shifting our perspective just far enough that we can get out of our own way.
Failure is necessary for success. Success isn’t just given to people – it’s earned, and to deserve it, you have to serve your time. You have to fail your way to success. Only then will you undertake the necessary lessons to provide you with the skills to succeed.
When failure shows up in your life, look for the lesson. What are you learning that will make your work better in the future? Now you can let go of the fear, do your work and accept what follows.
#2 Know your mission
What do you want from life? What do you want from your work? I like to write out a mission statement that declares what it is that I want and what I intend to do to earn it. I outline my core values and beliefs and then measure any priorities against them when I come to organising my time.
If you’re suffering from a lack of motivation, take some time to figure out your mission. Where do your passions lie? Don’t beat yourself up about not being motivated. It could be your minds way of telling you you’re on the wrong path. When motivation fails you, take some time to reconnect with your mission. Does the work you’re sitting down to fit in with your mission? If it does, then you have a powerful reason to start!
#3 Get organised
This skill alone can change your life and is particularly useful when overcoming writing procrastination. Like many of you, I’m guilty of writing procrastination, but taking the time to get organised removes almost all of the barriers between me and my completed work. I use reminder apps on my phone to keep me on track and Pomodoro apps to keep me focused. Although organisation goes beyond nifty smartphone apps. For example, if I sit down at a blank screen and attempt to write an article, chances are I’ll procrastinate. If, however, I’ve taken the time to outline a content calendar, or make a list of possible topics or future article titles, it’s suddenly far easier to dive headfirst into the writing.
Getting organised removes distractions. It frees up your mind to focus on the task at hand. Organise your workspace, organise your time and organise your work. The next time you sit down to write, you might surprise yourself and actually do some!
Anyway, that’s enough from me. I’m off to check Facebook …
Peter Turley is a writer, editor, blogger and podcaster living in the North West of England where he grew up. He reads, writes and edits fantasy fiction and co-hosts www.thebookeditorshow.com with Clark Chamberlain. Follow him on Twitter @PDTurley