Working WITH Procrastination

I have a tough teacher in life!

It turned up sometime around the first set of really important exams in my life, when I was about 16. It’s followed me around ever since, to college and beyond, into my home and my own personal endeavors.

It is unrelenting, pretty sneaky but delivers its message directly and then leaves you to do what you will with it. Which often means I miss the message and just do nothing!

It’s Procrastination.

Procrastination is the bane of my life. It is also the most constant, unflinching indicator of where my work and life are at in that exact moment. That’s because I don’t always procrastinate at every opportunity.

I don’t procrastinate when I’m fired up, in fact I often put other jobs and projects on the backburner to concentrate on what is exciting me right this moment.

I don’t procrastinate when I feel invested in the outcome, especially if I can see where this achievement could lead me in the future.

I don’t procrastinate when I am up against a deadline and must get it done.

I don’t procrastinate when I respect and admire the people I’m working with and am excited about our collaborating.

It wasn’t until I thought about procrastination in this way that I saw what procrastination illuminates.  It shows me where the energy has gone out of a project or where an idea is stale. Better than pushing against a brick wall, if I’m aware of WHY I’m procrastinating I can evaluate, change direction, improve and revitalise.

And there was me thinking that I was just Procrastinating-Pari forever!

So what has spending this entire evening trying to write this one little article taught me??

Well, I didn’t start with a plan so I had nothing to get fired up about, no outcome to focus on and no deadline for myself other than getting something posted TODAY! It was this fuzzy, unfocussed deadline that has dragged this article and realisation out of me, kicking and screaming and checking facebook every 10 minutes!

The easiest way to bypass procrastination completely is to start with a plan. A plan forces you to committ to your idea, evaluate and improve your system before you even start and get you fired up for the fun ahead!

And on that note, I’m off to have a cup of tea and relax after a hard evening procrastinating…

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**Just a quick shout out to all my lovely readers who receive my blog via Google Reader or RSS feed…you probably didn’t see Friday’s post ‘More on Igniting Your Creativity’ pop up on your feed due to some technical difficulties here at Lighting Little Fires HQ! My sincere apologies!

Stop by and have a gander if you haven’t already. I’ll be updating it tomorrow with more books/articles/links recommended by the Superhero Possé of Creative Thinkers I’m lucky to know. Feel free to take your rightful place in our Possé and comment or tweet me if you have anything to add!**

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13 responses to “Working WITH Procrastination

  1. I also find that writing a plan is the best way to get stuff done. I really need to break big tasks down, if I tell myself I need to work on a project I can’t get started, but if I tell myself I need to write an outline for a section or collect data on something, it’s easier.

    That said, I’ve been finding in the last couple of years that I procrastinate most from the things I love most. The tedious little tasks get done, but not the things that excite me. Weird.

    • That is sooooo interesting Betsy!! I have never thought about procrastinating with things I enjoy…I usually distract myself from the things I *need* to do with the things I *want* to do :) Maybe you are too good at prioritizing important tasks and need to make space for the things you really enjoy doing!

      Thanks so much for commenting Betsy…hugs to you Down Under!! x

  2. Great and very useful analysis! Though it pains me to say it, you’ve probably learned from an Oscar-winning procrastinator-me! I have had to change my procrastinating ways in the adult/parent/teacher part of my life, but when it comes to something I want to do for myself alone, or something that isn’t being forced by the pressure of a deadline or some other threat, well, I’m the best there is!! Here’s an example-I recently wanted to make a craft CV to send to groups and organisations who might want crochet classes. Nothing could induce me to do it, until I found an interested group and an ‘audience’ I could imagine writing for. A focus, in other words……Now I’m starting to teach this class on Thursday night:) Wish me luck! Great post, you really are getting down to the nitty-gritty of the creative process.

  3. Very good article. The part where you say ( shows me where the energy has gone out of a project or where an idea is stale) I thought about that and I see some of my procrastination has to do with that.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for stopping by Christine, I’m so glad that this article worked for you. I think that stepping back and taking note of when your procrastinating and your secret why of procrastinating can really help you not get into those situations anymore :)

  4. Plan writing is essential in my life. But I still procrastinate sometimes – especially when i am venturing into unknown territory!!

    Two things help me the most. A deadline. I seem to respond to those even if they are self imposed!

    Take the first step. Even it it is as simple as pulling a skein of yarn out of the stash and creating a “working home” for it. Taking that first step and getting it out of the way seems to be all I need to keep walking!

    • Absolutely Pam!! I love a little ‘micro step’ to banish the procrastination :) Make everything seem that bit more do-able.

      I find deadlines work for me too though I’m awful at imposing personal deadline…I have to have the enthusiasm with it too. I bet you get tons done with that kind of great attitude!

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. (I am procrastinating right now…shhhhhhh…..) I agree, I never procrastinate when I am excited, but when the fire’s not fully there… well, I guess I wait for it to get stoked and start to burn. To do that, I start with a small tidbit of the project, which inevitably leads to bigger steps of action, and eventually I’m committed to finishing the project (so I can move on already! ) Thanks for the encouraging post! Off to work towards my next one!

    • Heehee, I promise not to tell!! :)

      YES, learning how to ‘stoke your own fire’, even if that is against the current of your moods/inclinations that day, is really important. You take the controls again instead of procrastination pushing you around!

      Have I told you lately how much you ROCK Erin?? :)

  6. Pingback: My Most Procrastinated Task is… | LightingLittleFires

  7. This gentle post is one of my favorites–I love how you take something so seemingly negative and turn it into a tool. Actually, I’ll tell you a secret. I almost didn’t post this week–I was just going to link to this because that’s how much I love it.

    xoxo

  8. Pingback: The Right to Sleep | LightingLittleFires

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