I’m sitting here looking at my to do list for this wintry Sunday. It’s 11:27am and I’ve only crossed off email and Facebook. During the week I listened to some podcasts about procrastinating to help me break this vicious cycle which were actually pretty cool. They said make to do lists. So I went out and bought a note pad of pretty multicoloured papers and a horse pen – Happy year of the wooden horse! – thinking it would motivate me. It has motivated me, but only to make the list. Not to actually do the things on the list.
So now I’m Google searching “how to stop procrastinating” even though I know the way to stop procrastinating is to stop Googling.
Let’s examine Lifehack’s 11 Practical Ways to Stop Procrastination and try to put them into action.
1. Break work into little steps. Yep, I’ve done that. I’ve made the to do list outlining what I want to achieve today. What chapters I’m going to work on and for how long. I just haven’t opened Scrivener yet.
2. Change your environment. I can’t go anywhere or I’ll get even more distracted. I’ve tried it before. Starbucks? No. Library? No. I can’t move rooms because I get serious RSI from Facebooking, I mean writing, in bed. So I have to sit at the dining table. I cleaned and so it’s actually quite nice in here. Maybe I can switch to the other chair. Nope, can’t be bothered.
3. Create a detailed timeline with specific deadlines. I’ve tried this before too. Unless my deadline comes with a screaming boss, disappointed lecturer or no pay-check I find it hard to stick to my own deadlines when I’m the only one I’m accountable to.
4. Eliminate your procrastination pit-stops. It says stop using the internet. That’s a good one. I actually downloaded Nanny for Google Chrome but I’m yet to add any blocks to it. I had a good intention with that one, but then the fear of not being able to use websites was just plain scary.
5. Hang out with people who inspire you to take action. It says here I should hang out with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates for 10 minutes, or some people I know who are similar to those guys. How about Miley? She’s so inspirational right now.
6. Get a buddy. I’ve got lots of buddies!
7. Tell others about your goals. Doing that right now…
8. Seek out someone who has already achieved the outcome. I’m trying but JK Rowling doesn’t return my calls
9. Re-clarify your goals.This ones suggests getting away from your work. I like this one. Perhaps I’ll just have the whole day off to think about my goals.
10. Stop over-complicating things. A suggestion here that I’m a perfectionist and that’s why I’m procrastinating. Probably.
11. Get a grip and just do it. Yeah OK. That’s totally worked. I’m going to go do it right now.
Is it just me or does most of the advice that exists about how to stop procrastinating total BS? If I could just do it, I would just do it. The problem for me is not that I have no passion or goals, I just struggle with that first bit where you have to open the file you are working on and then look at it, and then read it, and then write something. Once I’ve started writing I’m fine, I can go for days, I love it, I become completely immersed in my story and my characters and I forget about the whole rest of the Universe. I just. can’t. get. started.
Please, please people of the internet stop with these lists of practical advice strategies and just tell me how to open my file when it’s not open yet. What I really need is someone to open it for me and then point to the bit I need to work on and then give me a hug and tell me I’m going to be the next Stephanie Meyer and then bring me a tea and some biscuits.