Let’s take a spin around the procrastination wheel and examine the issues.
1. Unclear, Unrealistic Goals; Denial of the Problem
Even when there has been a consistent, enduring pattern of work avoidance in the past, it is common for procrastinators to be naively hopeful and optimistic before embarking on a writing project. It is a form of denial about the problem. In your mind it seems that it should be fairly easy to tackle the project, and you dismiss any inner voices warning you about long-standing avoidance patterns. You might say to yourself, “This time I’ll just write every day and stay ahead of the deadlines. No more of that procrastination wheel for me!”
This denial has the consequence of interfering with the need to be thoughtful about managing your behavior. So you get out of the gate poorly prepared to meet the predictably difficult challenges that lie ahead.
It helps if you can acknowledge that you have a problem. If you accept that your patterns of work avoidance will always recur, then you can realistically put some plans in place for diminishing their impact.
2. Delay Start
Time seems plentiful at the very beginning of a writing project. There seems to be no big problem with letting things slide a bit. “What’s the hurry?” There is usually some physical and emotional comfort connected with this postponing, and it is easy to quiet that tiny voice of truth inside that is encouraging you to get started, because there is seemingly such a large cushion of time. “I’ll get to it soon enough—don’t worry!” This is the top of the slippery slope, and without knowing it, you are setting up the dynamics for the rest of the project, which is the pattern of avoiding writing.
It helps at this point on the wheel to remember the command “Write first!” This means that no matter what your inner dialogue is telling you, the best way to proceed is to do the more challenging task (writing) before you do anything else. Even if you work for only five minutes, you will start the project by writing rather than postponing, and this is the right formula for improved productivity. Beginning this way will also make it easier to start work the next day and the day after.
(to be continued)