Making Peace With Procrastination

Open face vintage pocket watch showing the working mechanism surrounded by the numerals in a close up detailed view

Have you ever promised yourself that you would get started on a project, writing or otherwise, and then found that anything else you could set your mind to instantly became more important?

This is one of the most common approaches to writing: avoidance. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, and in many ways, it can be, but there is a way you can take the power back.

In fact, there are many ways you can take the power back, but in order to offer some helpful tips, I am going to outline 5 of the most common ways to make peace with procrastination and in so doing, get your work back on track.

5 Ways to Blast Through Procrastination

1. Embrace It

This may be the tip that sounds most counter-intuitive, but it works for me. I have come to realize, like many writers, I can’t simply just jump into beginning my writing project.

I don’t mean that there is research that needs to be done first. This is something different. I mean whenever I know I have to begin something, I often get the urge to do something else.

I know this about myself. So, I embrace it. I give myself a defined period of time to do that thing of avoidance, whether it be to surf the net or scrub my floors. But I will only do this for a specific amount of time.

Often, I will set a timer for my procrastination and then know that when the timer goes off, I must sit at my desk and begin.

2.Tricks (and) or Treats

Another tool for blasting through procrastination is to bribe yourself with a treat. Chocolate works well for me as does a fresh cup of coffee.

Whatever the item is, make sure that it is likely to work and motivate you. I prefer small little pleasures that can be enjoyed concurrently to writing, but you may prefer something different.

It may be the promise of giving time to watching a movie later if you give the time to your project now. It truly can be anything that motivates you.

3. Just Start Writing

This is one of the tools that many ‘how-to’ books and strategies on writing use. It is very simple and is much like brainstorming.

This technique is sometimes referred to as freewriting and it is exactly that. Basically, the idea is that you begin writing, even if you write, “I don’t know what to write,” and that slowly, through the process of writing, you will eventually come to what it is you need/want to write about.

This is more time-effective than step 1, but it still may take a little while for your ideas to come into focus.

4. Don’t Stress

Okay, this one is always easier said than done, but the more you stress, the less you will want to focus on getting your project done.

Are there ways that you can take at least some of the bite out of having to get this work finished?

I find that listening to music (although for me it needs to be moderately paced classical with no lyrics) really helps.

I often really enjoy what I’m listening to and tune into that for a few moments and then get back to writing.

Sometimes, what I’m listening to inspires me in some way.

This may be useful to what I’m writing, or it may not, but it will give me an experience that can help me be less aware of the stress around having to write something and be more involved in the process.

5. Exercise

Yes, I said it, and I’m not going to apologize!

This is not a judgement saying you should do any particular kind of exercise, but many writers report that they do better work after clearing their minds with a bit of exercise. It’s one option that may help you get started.

It could be a walk, 10 jumping jacks beside your desk, or jumping up and down on your bed a few times. Whatever form of exercise you choose, it seems to work at least for some writers.

In my case, I love to ride my bike and will go for a ride if I am feeling stuck or uninspired. I like to think about things as I am riding and if I am working on writing something, possibilities and ideas will frequently arise.

The active forms of yoga and doing series of yoga postures were originally designed to help students get through issues of the body so they could then move more deeply into the stillness of meditation.

The idea of doing some exercise before you write can often work in the same way.

Consolidating the Tips

These tips can be used on their own if one rings truer for you than another. They can also be used together to provide you with a range of tools to draw on if (and when) procrastination arises.

Hey, in preparing to write this post, I straightened up my daughter’s room (timed for 20 minutes). -Tip 1

I watched 3 short tutorial videos on YouTube on some software I’m considering to purchase. -Tip 3

I bribed myself with some milk chocolate with whole hazelnuts and a strong black tea. -Tip 3

I also had to get some exercise earlier in the day because I was feeling especially stiff and achy and knew that if I didn’t, I might avoid sitting at my desk to write. -Tip 5

And look at my result-a whole blog post to boast!

 

 

 

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About Adrienne Kitchin

I am a professor at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario, where I teach Anthropology, Humanities and Academic Writing. I have extensive teaching and tutoring experience and work with both academic and business clients. I also write creatively, working within the fiction, poetry and non-fiction mediums.
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