Photo by Andrea_44
I have a lot of mantras that I've used throughout my life: "Never go to bed angry", "Everything happens for a reason", "You get more flies with honey." But the one that enters my mind way too much is--"I can do it later."
I can return this email later...
I can leave a blog comment later...
I can fold these towels tomorrow...
I can make that doctor's appointment next week...
Now, I have never been someone who is late on the important things. I've never turned in a paper late or needed a deadline extended for a work project. I get those things done. But it's the little, less urgent things that tend to drop off my radar.
For instance, if my editor sends me an email asking me to revamp the back cover blurb, I will instantly jump on it and have it back to her within 24 hours. Because that is something that has a hard deadline and cannot wait.
But if a friend ask me to take a look at her pages, if I don't do it right then, she's probably not going to get them back for weeks because they'll get lost in my email. And after reading this post on the Fantastical Personality Type, I now see why. It's not that I'm disorganized--I'm not at all. It's just that people with this personality type have to keep everything they are working on in their line of site or it doesn't exist. So that's why my desk looks like this:
All my notes, the craft books I want to use, and the business things I have to work on are all spread out where I can eyeball them. And that's why once an email is off my main screen (which takes about an hour), I've already forgotten about it. Unless I go assign an alarm to it, I won't find it again for months until I'm going through the stack of unread email en masse. So this is why I got Outlook for my email. I can assign reminders to things that pop up in the middle of my screen to hit me over the head.
However, this organizational method can be just as ineffective if I let the dirty procrastinator that lives inside me take over. When I found myself continuously "snoozing" a reminder that I had set up two months ago, I knew it had to stop.
And not just in my writer life, but also in my home life. I do not need to wait to fold socks until the basket of socks is so huge that it's an hour long job. I do not have to wait to go to the post office until I have ten things to mail.
These undone things act as this nebulous cloud of doom that hangs over my head. I don't always notice it's there but there's this niggling since of--I'm behind on something. I'm always behind. And it's a source of constant subconscious stress. And I'm tired of it.
So I've put myself on an Anti-Procrastination Diet. I've only been at it for a week, but already it's made a world of difference. I've made it through most of my list of to-do's. I have clothes folded and hung in our closets. We even have paired socks! *cue angels singing*
And I feel so much lighter (which is why I'm calling it a diet.) :)
So here are the rules I've given myself...
The Anti-Procrastination Diet
1. If something needs to be done and you have time to do it right now, do it RIGHT NOW.
2. If you get an email that will require action, either act on it immediately or assign an alarm to it. And you only get to snooze that alarm ONCE.
3. Eat elephants one bite at a time. Don't wait until a task like laundry builds up so big that it's going to require hours of work.
4. When you find yourself saying "I can do it later", stop and make a plan on when you are going to do it or go ahead and do it now.
5. When it comes to writing, you can't wait for the muse. You need to get writing done every week day no matter what.
I'm sure I'll add more to this and it's still a constant challenge and fight with my tendencies, but it's working for me right now.
So how about you? Are you a procrasinator or someone who gets things off your to-do list quickly? What's the task you put off time and again, then regret it later? What tips do you have to avoid procrasination?
And anyone want to join me on this diet? We could form a Twitter support group--help me think of a hashtag. Who's with me?