We have already looked at how fear sits at the core of a lot of procrastination. Other reasons could be, not having clarity around what you want or not having a clear vision of where you are going. However, the procrastination monster can show up in other ways and places too.
Why We Sometimes Choose Procrastination
We are scared we will fail, or have some other fear.
We dislike the task or activity and are trying to avoid it.
We feel overwhelmed. There is just so much we want to do and it feels huge. We don’t know where to start. And perhaps we are frozen by our fear.
We aren’t clear about what we want and why. This makes taking any steps difficult, as where are we going?
Our goals are too abstract or feel unbelievable or too far away—and the rewards are not immediate or strong enough.
We can’t decide on a clear direction.
We are sabotaging ourselves. This comes back to the root beliefs that you have about yourself and your abilities to write. If this is the reason, you may need to work with a counselor or coach to shift these root beliefs first. If we self-sabotage with our life dreams, we will probably see evidence of this in other areas of our lives too.
We are focused on short-term pleasure over long-term gain and lack the self-control to make the effort needed. “I don’t feel like it” is a common phrase you might hear.
There is some other underlying physical or mental issue—ADHD, depression, chronic fatigue, and so on. This doesn’t mean the issue will block you forever, just that you might need to reduce expectations for a while, get extra support, and perhaps treat the underlying issue with the help of some experts.
If you were completely honest with yourself, which of these might apply to you?
My Experience With Procrastination
For me, when I find myself procrastinating, it is usually one of two things. I haven’t decided a clear direction—which means I need to perhaps do some research, write an outline for my work, and set some daily writing goals.
What might be another reason?
The other reason, which shows up less over time as the rewards of writing become clearer, is my propensity to enjoy the “now” too much. I may get caught up in the pleasure of cooking and eating, or just turn on a TV show for 5 minutes or decide a nap seems nice. I now know that if I allow myself these things, I will most likely derail my whole day.
As a result, I have put a few routines in place and use the TV, the book I’m reading, or that delicious meal, to serve as my reward after I have put in a certain number of hours or generated the required number of words.
How you can learn from my experience…
The reasons you procrastinate will differ for each person, so take some time to consider what your main ones might be, and then make a plan around how you will deal with it. If writing is important enough to you, you will find a way through the procrastination maze.
5 Ways to Banish Procrastination
Deal with your fears—see earlier in this book for some help with that.
Get clear on your values, vision and future goals.
Get clear on why writing is important to you and what you want from it.
Build rewards into the system, and throw out the punishments. If you are not achieving your writing goals at the moment, and then you tend to mentally beat yourself up about your “failure,” you may find yourself increasingly avoiding the whole thing. So give yourself permission to fail occasionally, and encourage and motivate yourself kindly and gently.
Work on setting up a daily writing habit.
Be patient with yourself, celebrate every small win you have. Sometimes getting some forward motion going, no matter what or how, is enough to shake things loose and shift you so that other choices and tasks become easier to contemplate.
This blog post article has been an excerpt from my book How to Become a More Productive Writer.