How to Recover from Procrastination
Learning how to recover from a lapse in productivity is one of the most important skills you can possess as a writer just starting out in the business. If you're like me, you marvel at the amazing work that writers were able to accomplish several centuries ago. It seemed like average writers finished a book or two by the time they were twenty and about a hundred more throughout their lifetimes. When I wonder if there's something wrong with us nowadays, I realize that they had absolutely nothing interesting to do. Writing was almost an escape for them from their mundane lives. We have a different problem. We live in a world of instant entertainment.
I'm not going to go railing off on the state of the world, I'll wait until I have my AARP card for that. But, I will say that the world we live in makes it really tough to concentrate. As I'm writing this article, I have thousands of games, movies and videos at my fingertips and it would only take a few keystrokes and mouse clicks to put them on my screen. Even though I'm a relatively productive guy, I have lapses of focus and every once in a while I will get temporarily stuck in leisure time when I should be working. This is when I must enact the skills I've learned as to how to recover from procrastination.
Let's say I've gone completely off track and I'm watching a video online. The instinct is to watch the entire thing and then click on another link somewhere on the page that interests me. I've done that before and I'll do it again, especially when I don't have anything better to do. But if I know I have something more important to my development and happiness in the long-term, I am much more likely to pause the video and come back to it later. The first step then, is to have something important to do. If you are excited about a project, you can use that enthusiasm to break a procrastinatory habit.
If that anticipation of working on your project isn't enough, you need to practice stepping back from a situation and closing your eyes. The reason these games, movies and videos are so addictive is because they act as a stimulant and that brain of yours loves stimulants. Take away the main source of the stimulation by physically moving away from the electronic device and closing your eyes. When you do this, you are more likely to use the more logical parts of your brain as opposed to the more mercurial limbic parts that want you to be stimulated at all times. Use this time in logic mode to turn off the device or at least to disable the aspects that you tend to zone out on.
If you have used the first two steps of how to recover, working on a project that excites you and stimulates you mentally and closing your eyes and stepping back from the distracter, and you still feel like wasting time, it's time to use your lifeline and phone a friend. As a writer, it's important to have other writers who are positive and have major writing goals. When you are feeling low in the way of motivation, you can call these people directly and try to have them talk you into coming back to the light side of the force. Learning how to recover from procrastination doesn't have to be a solo job, but it's best to choose people who are upbeat and don't frequently find themselves in the same boat as you. It's not a time to commiserate and complain, it's a time to build up your positivity together and make your writing come alive!
The next time you find yourself distracted, try these three steps to push yourself in the right direction. Practice them long enough and you'll find yourself much less vulnerable to problems of procrastination.
Done with How to Recover? Go back to Personal Time Management.