By Kyle Perkins.
So, spoiler alert: The world’s biggest procrastinator is me.
I have been the biggest procrastinator for my entire life, and it probably stems from my ADD and underachieving nature, but I have found a way to overcome it… Somewhat. So I am going to compile a list of things that I think could help even the worst procrastinators among you.
1. Set realistic goals.
So, if you’re anything like me, you probably wait until the last moment to do anything. Then once your deadline passes and you’ve accomplished nothing, you try to make up for it by setting a huge goal, even for you. “Okay! I am GOING TO WRITE 10k words tomorrow, no matter what!” and of course some of you can do this no problem, so you might set your goals even higher. Let’s face it, all of us are idealistic and WANT to do those things, but they rarely pan out, and you set yourself up for failure. What’s worse is, when you set your goals too high, they become a chore and you already hate the idea of doing it before you even start. So, the vicious cycle begins again when you miss your deadline. You set a high goal, miss it, get depressed, then set a higher goal to make up for it. This is not the way to be productive. Instead, set a goal to write period. If you make it your mission to open Word at least once a day and produce something, anything, you will see that the juices will start flowing again and you’ll surprise yourself with how much you write.
2. Reward yourself.
Seriously! When you do hit your realistic goals, reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but it will help you to associate finishing projects with rewards. Just don’t reward yourself beforehand or you will have absolutely nothing as an incentive to get anything done. Not saying an incentive is for everyone, but for people that procrastinate on a daily basis, it wouldn’t hurt to have something pushing you, would it?
3. Set some time aside for yourself.
This is really important. For me, I keep odd hours and write at night while the rest of the world is sleeping. It’s amazing what you can do when all distractions and the noise pollution from living in society are gone. Now of course, all of you can’t stay up all night and probably have day jobs, but that doesn’t matter. There is some point in the day where you can shut the blinds, and just tune everyone out. Whether it’s when your kids go to sleep, lunch break at work, or whatever the case may be, you need time to yourself to be free of noise and people coming at you. Just shut down your browser for a bit, trust me, it works. If you’re anything like me, you just can’t resist those little Facebook “dings” when you get a notification. So, cut the problem out at the source.
4. Music is your friend.
Sometimes, no matter what you do, words just won’t come to you. You’ll be staring blankly at a wall even if you’ve followed all of the steps above. Shit happens. That’s where music comes in. Now, I know a lot of people write in silence, and others listen to their favorite songs to get into the mood. However, silence only helps if you already have something to write, because you can concentrate on what you need to put down. Music with words, like you hear on the radio, they do the opposite. Your mind can’t help but sing along, and subconsciously you will focus on the song more than what you need to be doing. Instead, listen to things like dystopian/fantasy/horror soundtracks. You naturally drift off into daydreams when music creates the ambience around you. It’s great for creative writing, or writing using the panster method. You’ll surprise yourself, try it.
5. Ignore your insecurities.
THIS POST covers this entry.
6. Whatever you do, finish what you start.
When I first started writing, I would come up with an idea, write a few chapters, then just save it onto my computer where it would sit for eternity. I feel like too many of us do this, whether it’s from laziness, procrastination, or insecurity, but it has to stop. I have seen some seriously talented writers piss away their talent because they never finish a project, and it’s tragic. There are so many people that are constantly “working on a book,” but if you never finish it, it’s not even worth talking about. Until you take the next step and publish something, it’s always just going to be a hobby, and it’s sad because a lot of people don’t have outside influences stopping them, it’s just in their head. I know this because it used to be me. You can never let a fear of criticism stop you from doing anything, because criticism will always be there no matter what you do. The cool thing is, there will be people out there that think you are brilliant as well, but you’ll never meet those people if you never finish what you start.
Anyway, just wanted to give some advice. Most of you won’t need it, but if it helps even a few people, then my work here is done. I know I’m not the only procrastinator, and this is what worked for me, so maybe it will work for a few of you guys. Give it a shot. =)