Michaeline: A Magic Bullet for Procrastination?

St. Jerome wonders if there's any yogurt left in that pot next to the hearth. Via Wikimedia Commons. By Leonello Spada.

St. Jerome wonders if there’s any yogurt left in that pot next to the hearth. Via Wikimedia Commons. Leonello Spada.

Um, no. But, it might be helpful.

We’ve talked about procrastination before, but this article from The Atlantic online suggests that it is perfectly normal for writers to be procrastinators. And there are two helpful hints for overcoming procrastination.

1) Set your deadline to begin slightly AFTER the time you should begin in order to shock yourself into beginning. (I’m one of those persons who sets a few strategic clocks ahead a few minutes to make myself believe I’m running late so I move a little faster. Well, that’s the theory. What actually happens is that I set my clock two minutes early, say, “Oh! The time! Oh, yeah, I’m OK, I still have two minutes.” And still wind up five minutes late. I realized the folly this year when I read this old Dear Prudie column, and started setting all my clocks for the right time, AND THE WORLD DIDN’T FALL APART. This advice for setting alarms a little later might work for me, now that my clocks are all on the right time.)

2) Convince yourself that it’s fun. And c’mon, writing IS fun! When it’s working, it’s one of the funnest things in the whole wide world! (What’s not so fun, for me, is imagining other people reading my words and judging them with the same standards that my Inner Censor has. So, I’ve got to shove that imaginary audience into a box until it’s time to edit.)

A priceless passage from the article is this:

Procrastination “really has nothing to do with time-management,” Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University, told Psychological Science. “To tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”

Although, sometimes the “Just Do It” is the final kick I need to get started. And once I’m started, I’m usually good.

This month is anti-procrastination month for me. (See what I did there? It isn’t even September yet!)  I’d love to hear your tried-and-true tips for overcoming procrastination!

8 thoughts on “Michaeline: A Magic Bullet for Procrastination?

  1. Procrastination. Wait a sec. I’ll think of something…

    I’ve tried that setting-the-clock thing, too, and it doesn’t work for me. But for me, being late isn’t really about procrastination, although I do procrastinate. I think that I just focus more when I’m under pressure, and the time I spend fretting but not doing beforehand is the time I need to get my mental ducks in order. So procrastination is probably just the way I’m built.

    • LOL! Procrastination jokes . . . .

      I have a tough time changing gears once I’m in the flow of things. I know that I’ll get things done if I do 10 minutes every day, but it’s very hard for me to stop doing something once I’ve started. And, that has led to the fact that it’s very hard for me to START something that I know will take a lot of time. I wonder if I can train myself out of that mindset?

  2. Thanks for the tips (and the laughs). I also set clocks wrong and like you I always think, “ten more minutes” and then end up late.

    As far as procrastination. I find it’s fear based. I usually put off doing something because a) I don’t know what I’m doing (i.e. how/what to write next), or b) I’m afraid I’ll screw it up (which is the same thing really). So to conquer the fear of screwing up, I use my fear of not finishing to motivate me. It takes self talk (you can fix it later, just do it), but that’s the only thing that seems to work for me.

    • A lot is fear-based, and I notice more fear-based procrastination when I’m doing something “for real”. The Girls in the Basement stall at all sorts of little things — many of them “last straw” kind of things. I ask them to do a lot of things “my way” instead of “their way” and they’ll often go along for the grins and giggles. But they reach a point where they say, “Not fun. Going on strike.” So, it’s a struggle between my inner editor who wants to do things “right” and the Girls who just wanna have “fun”.

      Lots of scare quotes in my paragraph, because “for real” and “my way” and “their way” etc. are such funny terms, and their meanings depend on which part of my psyche is speaking. An outside evaluator would probably disagree with the definitions of “right” and “fun”, depending on the evaluator.

  3. I set my watch wrong too, out of habit. I hate being late, and I used to work with people who had a more relaxed attitude towards timekeeping but who would often read my watch upside-down. Now there’s just me to worry about, but the habit is too deeply ingrained to change 🙂 .

    I think my procrastination is self-indulgence. I hate missing deadlines; for most of my life I’ve worked at an insane pace, but for this brief period I’m in control of my own timetable, and I know that when I sign with a publisher or set a self-publishing schedule I will be committed to a routine again, so I’m secretly luxuriating in a stolen few hours or sometimes a whole day reading or doing a puzzle or going for lunch. My Girls are efficient, and they know what they’re doing. If they say I can take a little time out, I grab it and enjoy every minute.

        • LOL, my Girls are only interested in the fun and the party. They aren’t that picky about where they get the Dopamine, as long as they get it. Coconut ice cream, “Whose Line” video clips on YouTube, and once in a great while, the Dopamine You Get From Achievement (I cleaned out a few baskets over my washing machine on Sunday, and they said, “Yay!”). I keep hoping the achievement from writing and finishing a book that’s published will be enough for them, but they are so easily distracted.

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