When I was in college and graduate school, we all procrastinated. We put off studying and paper writing in favor of talking about esoteric subjects and making mischief. We pulled all-nighters to finish our work—and we got through just fine.
Professionals procrastinate in creative ways. Most of the procrastinators I know aren’t lazy bums, spending hours watching television instead of writing that novel. Instead, they work extra hours at the day job, volunteer for a good cause, parent their children, clean and cook, research, take classes, connect on social media, make other kinds of art, and take on a variety of other writing assignments.
If you are going to tackle and achieve your big hairy audacious writing goal (or even that tiny one you’ve been dreaming about since forever), you need to let go of your procrastinating ways. Observe your behavior for a week. Pay attention to the tasks you are willing to take on just to avoid working on the project that scares you. You know, the big goal, the book you know in your soul you must write, the blog idea you’ve been tossing around for years, the play whose characters speak to you in the middle of the night.
Once you know what you’re avoiding and how you are avoiding it, choose to:
+Let go of at least one activity that you are using to procrastinate working on your dream project.
+Use that time to work on the project you love.
+Start small. Big steps terrify us and lead to more procrastinating. Once you’ve managed to write for five minutes a day for a few weeks, add another five. Keep going until it grows.
+HONOR that time. Write it in the calendar. Show up. Reward yourself afterwards.
Pro Tip: Plan for the excuses. Your excuses will match the level of attachment you have to your project. So if you really desire it, you’ll have super-duper reasons not to work on it: I can’t give up the committee to write, people are counting on me. I can’t write then, xyz needs me to be available. I have to check Facebook every hour or I’ll miss something crucial to my job.
Tell the excuses to take a hike. Remember, they’re excuses, not reasons. Dismiss them and write.
Your turn: How do you overcome procrastination?