It feels like a gazillion years have whooshed by since I wrote on my blog. A few grey hairs and worry lines later and I have a new topic to talk about… always a silver lining, eh?
I might be greener than a bunch of unripe bananas when it comes to writerly expertise, but there’s one thing I believe I’m quite accomplished at. In fact, I’d go as far to say that if they dished out qualifications within this particular discipline, I’d be receiving my Ph.D.
And no, I’m not talking about humiliating my husband or embarrassing my kids (although I’m relatively deft at both, I’m nowhere near proficient at claiming any titles in those regards).
I’m talking about procrastination.
I excel at it.
Of course, gaining mastery skills in sitting on my arse wondering where I’m going in life rather than actually doing something positive to take me somewhere, I feel I’m now well versed in understanding what drives excessive worry and turns a person into a dribbling internet junkie (at least, for me, anyway).
So here are personal techniques I’ve used to get out of the stinky funk that is the procrastination bog.
1) Lists. If you’re like me, someone who watches their food budget, but buys stationary like a multi-millionaire, you’ll likely have a folder/diary to write daily tasks in. Use it. Make lists. Tick them off. Daily. Don’t just buy that smart looking pad—fill the bloody thing out!
2) Use guilt effectively. If you’ve got something to do and you’re struggling to get it done ask yourself: will I let someone down if it’s not done (including yourself)? If you answer yes, suck it up, buttercup, and get it done. Why? Because you’ll feel like an absolute wanker otherwise. And no one wants to feel like a dejected wanker. I’ve gone into wanker-mode more times than I care to think of, and I can tell you, it’s not a nice place to be. Leads to all sorts of mental self-flagellation, lies, and pity parties (where no one else wants to hang out with you).
3) Give yourself two minutes. If you’re past the wanker stage and currently wallowing in a pond of sludgy procrastinating poop, pull yourself out for a moment. You don’t even need to shake yourself off or towel-dry your hair. All you need to do is spend just two minutes on the task you need to get done. That’s it. Just two minutes. The likelihood is, once the minutes are up you’ll carry on past the time you’ve given yourself. If you don’t, that’s still two minutes closer to the end goal. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
4) Instant gratification. I’m not really sure how this fits into procrastination, but it does… sort of. Anyway… we all like that sugar rush when we eat a tub of ice-cream. But we all know that diabetes is just another bucketful away. Ask yourself whether suckling on the sugary teat of mindless moments is worth it? If, in a year time, you’re still doing something that hits you with detrimental endorphins (or whatever the happy chemicals are), what would the consequence be? If you’re spending endless hours on YouTube rather than writing (or whatever long-term goal you’ve got cooking up in your noggin), think about what you could achieve by switching off the Internet, burying your mobile in a sandpit, setting fire to your iPad, and ergo delaying that soul-sucking instant gratification of watching cute kittens barf?
5) Rewards are good. Written that chapter? Spend an hour reading or drinking wine. Done that exercise? Have a pedicure… or tattoo! Rewards are underrated, overused, underused and all out of sync. Reward yourself when you’ve achieved what you’ve set out to achieve.
6) Read a book. Even though I’ve crowned myself as the Doctor of Procrastination, I’m no expert. Nothing beats reading a book on the subject, particularly if the book is written by a professional. Self-help gurus and snazzy life coaches are everywhere and easily accessible. Just don’t get sucked into becoming a serial-self-help-addict. There comes a point when you have to step up and do it for real.
7) If all else fails. My go-to personal advice on everything is this: we are a speck of dust on a spinning rock in the midst of an unfathomably infinite universe. So don’t waste time fannying about. And don’t bother waiting for the right moment to begin—it will never arrive. Life is intolerably short, so get stuck in.