Mark Twain has said it in a more cynical and provocative manner:
“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.“
Procrastination affects over 20% of the population. The number has quadrupled in the last 30 years. While in the late 1970s only 5% of the population considered themselves as chronic procrastinators, at the end of 2013 this share was 26%, – a considerable increase we should all think about.
Procrastination by definition is putting off planned or scheduled activities for some that are less important. We buy presents in the last minute, we postpone visiting the dentist, the pile of dishes is getting higher, we put off writing new blog posts, … And you keep repeating the same resolutions year after year, telling yourself this will be the one when you’ll REALLY do all these things.
People don’t procrastinate because they are lazy, or because they are poor at organizing their time. Buying an organizer won’t fix their problem. “Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up,” says Dr. Joseph R. Ferrari, a distinguished psychology professor.
For bloggers procrastination is definitely one of the biggest obstacles to achieving their goals and success. Productivity tools can certainly help, but to win the fight between the ‘want’ and ‘should’ you must dig a little deeper, motivate yourself, build up discipline and consistency.
If you have a habit to procrastinate and want to stop doing it, following are few tips to consider:
Find what motivates you towards the action you don’t feel like doing. Put your workout clothes on when you are trying to avoid exercise, make a grocery list when you don’t feel like cooking, and get a pen and paper ready or sit in front of the computer when putting off writing to check your email, quickly head over Facebook, watch just that one short video, make a coffee to get you going, etc.
These are little baby steps, but they’ll get you in the mood and convince you that you can actually finish that project you are avoiding. Once you make the first step, the rest will come naturally.
Get to the root of your procrastination problem. Ask yourself why?. Just like with any other problem that you truly want to solve, you need to first understand the reasons behind your putting-off things that you need to finish. Procrastination is rarely a result of “laziness”, – there’s a real cause behind it. Do you have too much work piled up? Don’t you know where to start? Did you overestimate your capabilities to get everything done on time? Or are you worried whether things will go as smoothly once you get started?
Look deeper into the reasons why you are putting off your work. Once you learn to recognize them you can improve each one and solve your procrastination issue.
Know what distracts you, and focus! Bloggers are constantly online. It’s part of our job. And I believe we’ll all agree that this world is the most distracting one that ever existed. What started as a post research can easily turn into a major time-wasting, with you knowing nothing about how it happened.
Your blogging environment can also be distracting, and if that’s the case make sure to read how to boost its productivity.
We all have these things called distractions that diminish our discipline. They are not always bad; often they’re just an issue of “wrong” priorities and timing. Still, get rid of them. It’s not that you should not-do these things you enjoy; just that you should probably skip them on days with tight deadlines and lots of work on your blog.
And focus on your work. Be productive for 25 minutes (Pomodoro technique), and then make a short break for some stretching and eye exercises. Get back to blogging for another round of ‘pomodoro’, and get away from your computer for 10 minutes, – walk, make yourself a healthy juice, or do whatever you feel like within that time.
Visualize the work being completed. Make up your own rewards. Sometimes, when you notice that you are getting ideas about quitting half-way through, it’s good to play little mind games of tricking yourself into finishing. Give yourself small rewards for every task completed. And make sure to really feel how good it is to get things done. It will move you in the right direction.
Know when your willpower is strongest, and then schedule the writing tasks that are hardest for you. For me it’s usually in the morning, right after my workout. This probably is result of the increased oxygen in the brain. Read our tips on how to best manage your time for blogging.
Have self-compassion. Overcoming procrastination isn’t easy. And you’ll never win if you are constantly beating yourself down. Particularly at the beginning you need to be supportive and compassionate with yourself, understanding that this is a difficult task, – it takes time, dedication, and patience. You are allowed to make mistakes, take it easy, don’t push over your limits. You’ll just be grumpy and angry at yourself, or even quit.
Remember, the more time you can spend without procrastinating, the greater the chances you’ll stop with it for good.
Do you procrastinate? Maybe you’ve already found ways to break this destructive habit… Share your struggles and advices in the comments. Some of us will certainly find them helpful.