Stop Procrastinating Now! ... or Just Do it Later
If you're like me, you have a MAY-JAH problem with procrastination. Whenever I say that to someone I always get the incredulous, "You?! You get tons of shit done! No way!"
Yes way. I get a lot of things done, but I wait til the last minute on a lot of things, because while I've talked myself into the belief that I just work better under pressure, the truth is I am a procrastinator who wastes tons and tons of time throughout my day I could otherwise use productively.
There's a vast amount of psychology behind procrastination, but it's especially hard for creatives. We will mindlessly surf the internets when there is a deadline screaming at us. Everything can wait. For no particular reason other than it can wait.
Like all bad habits, procrastination is one you can break by modifying your behavior. I've actually improved a lot since focusing on it in November. By the middle of November, I was working and traveling so much, my house and life were an actual disorganized mess. I literally had suitcases still packed from traveling to the coast in October.
I didn't read any magic books or consult any magazines, I simply went back to basics and did these pretty simple things to get myself back on track. So here's what I did:
Be Brutally Honest and Set Yourself Up For Success
Nothing in my life is happening after 7pm unless it can happen from the couch or my bed. I come home after a 12 hour day, and it is literally almost too much for me to warm up dinner. After I spend time with the dogs and reassure them that I don't leave everyday and meet my imminent death, I have little energy for anything else. Which means anything that requires productivity has to happen at my peak energy hours. So many times we get over excited about our abilities and set ourselves up for failure. I am not vacuuming during the week. I'm just not. If I make a goal to do my vacuuming on Tuesdays, that's never going to happen and when I miss that goal I will just be like, "Fuckitol, I fail." Then it doesn't happen because you then get into that cycle of. "What's the point?" and before you know it, the dog hair in the corners literally shames you into vacuuming because you're wondering where the extra dog came from...oh wait...that's their FUR in the corner you slob. .
Treat Yourself Like a Kindergartner at First With Lists and Time-Blocking
Make lists. When I don't make a list, I flounder all day. If I sit down and make a list of all the major and mundane things that have to get done that day, guess what? It gets done. I set a timer for 45 minutes at a time, work on my list, and when that time is up, I take 10 minutes to do whatever I want, then go back to the list. It seems so simple and basic, but it helps you keep focused and trains your brain to stay on task. There's also an accountability and satisfaction in seeing what you need to accomplish mapped out for you, and crossing them off one by one.
Also, if you're working on the computer, close all unnecessary tabs so you're not tempted to ADD and get distracted by a Facebook notification staring at you.
Spend Sundays Setting Up Your Life to Run on Autopilot
This is something I learned when I was a teenager to manage my busy schedule. I clear my Sunday afternoons and evenings to get my life together for the week ahead. I do all of my bill paying, laundry, meal prep... all of it... so all I have to do on weekdays is coast through tasks. I make all of my lunches for the week, get dinners cooked to just reheat when I get home, stage all of my work outfits for the week so I'm not wasting time looking for something to wear, and deep clean the house from top to bottom. On weekends I travel, the night before I leave, I do the best I can to set myself up for the week ahead, and the Sunday before I leave, I prepare food for the week after I return that will freeze for two weeks.
You don't realize how much being rushed and overwhelmed causes procrastination until your life is on autopilot where it can be. I don't have to argue with myself on whether or not its worth the energy to make my lunch or justifying grabbing something that's twice the calories and money during the day.
Find an Organizational Tool That Works For You
This will seem beyond strange when you read this, but I feel like there's so much peer pressure where personal organization is concerned. The best tool that works for me are paper calendars and notebooks with color coded post-its and using highlighters. I know it's so 1995 of me, but it works. Yes, I know all of the 'cool' moms are using $50 Erin Condren planners, but that's too much STUFF for me, and it feels like scrapbooking. (I'm also way too cheap for such a thing.)
I can't do digital calendars (WHICH I KNOW IS SO ZOMG WEIRD SINCE I RUN A DIGITAL MEDIA COMPANY) because my brain doesn't record information when I use my thumbs. I have to do it my way.
I'm not a unicorn. Everyone has their own process for retaining information, so I don't understand the whole pressure, "But have you TRIED these planners/apps/pleasekillme?" It's like you're at a frat party and someone is convincing you that THIS ecstasy is so much better than the one you took last time that made you hump a wall.
Just say no and do you. I get teased mercilessly for my granny notebook life, and you know what? I never miss a deadline or a meeting when I'm about that life.
Reward Thy Self
If I stay on my game all week the best I possibly can, I reward myself with something on Saturday afternoon/evening after making the whole day about indulging myself and my wayward attention span. When I'm traveling, it's a good airport dinner and a magazine. Basically, you need to have a break day where you're not focused on your list and reward yourself for not letting a basket of laundry sit for an entire season before you fold your clothes.
This has been life changing for me after realizing I had to reign in the chaos back in November. I started by doing ONE thing and that was unpacking my suitcases and organizing my closet, and I let the momentum carry me from there. So just do one thing today. One. You'll feel great about it and it will make you want to do more.
Or you know...you could just wait til tomorrow...
NO! That was a joke. Go do something. Now.