How To Beat Procrastination - Focus On The When Not The Why
Procrastination is one of the arch enemies of creativity, and for creative people, an ongoing battle rages between the two.
What are some of your favourite procrastination techniques?
Checking email and favourite websites every few minutes?
Reorganising art supplies, books, CDs, your wardrobe, your furniture?
Making tiny adjustments to a creative project that's already finished, rather than starting a new project?
Making and eating food that you don't really need to eat?
Finding things to clean that don't really need cleaning?
There are many ways to avoid creating and we all procrastinate at different times and different amounts.
So how DO you beat procrastination?
How do you overcome these seemingly innocuous habits that actually devour your precious time with about the same amount of compassion that a ravenous fox devours a coup of chickens?
The approach we most often take seems like the most logical and useful available.
"If I work out WHY I procrastinate then I'll be able to stop..."
Sounds like a sensible approach, doesn't it? And maybe one that you've tried?
I'm pretty confident though that it didn't help you much in overcoming procrastination.
What happens when we ask ourselves a question? The instinctive reaction is for your mind to seek answers. It's just what it does. So when you ask yourself the question "Why do I procrastinate?", guess what? Yep, your mind goes to work finding all the possible answers to that question it can.
"Maybe it's because I'm scared of failing so I procrastinate to avoid even starting a project?"
"I'm not sure which creative project to pick, I have so many ideas. Maybe that's why I procrastinate?"
"I never have much time to create. Maybe I procrastinate because I feel I won't have enough time to really get my teeth into a creative project in one session, so it saves me being frustrated and disappointed?"
Well, these all sound very likely reasons why you do indeed procrastinate. In fact, if you presented them to ANYONE as reasons why they procrastinate, they'd no doubt agree wholeheartedly.
But where does this approach get you? Does it help you procrastinate less? Does it motivate you to create more?
What's far more likely is you'll collect a whole host of reasons why you procrastinate, some which aren't even that relevant for you, so you end up feeling even more overwhelmed and even less likely to create!
So what's the alternative? How can you begin to beat procrastination?
The secret is not to focus on the "Why". We've just seen how that doesn't work. You can't overcome procrastination unless you begin changing your habits and your behaviour.
If you always do the same thing, you've always get the same results.
So instead, focus on the "How", and focus on the "When". Once you notice the various ways and techniques you use most often to procrastinate and avoid creating, use this awareness will help you catch yourself earlier and reduce the time you spend avoiding creating. This is the "How" part.
Also notice "When" you procrastinate. This is simply the times you're most likely to procrastinate. What else is going on around you and in your mind, what kind of circumstances are you in when you procrastinate? Just observe the details without judgement or analysis.
Endlessly analysing WHY you procrastinate just ends up with you having even MORE reasons to avoid creating.
When you focus on the "How" and the "When", you can really start to take control of those dreaded procrastination habits that choke your creativity.