Are You Procrastinating Right Now?

4693754318_e4f1d7601b_bI have a Pinterest board for inspiration. One of my favorite pins is a picture of Virginia Woolf surrounded by text. The text reads: “I WILL LOCK YOU IN A ROOM OF YOUR OWN UNTIL YOU FINISH YOUR NOVEL.”

Is it bad that I’d pay someone to do that?

I am a champion procrastinator, and taking away all the distractions and options and the Internet would probably help. At least, that’s what I’ve always thought.

But after reading about procrastination, it’s become clear to me that distraction is more of a symptom than a cause. The real cause in my case is perfectionism. My desire to write the perfect blog post, poem, essay, or even email makes it hard to start any writing. It’s daunting to start something that has to be perfect. Surely that will take a huge amount of effort and time. Probably it’s better to rest or take a nap or clean the whole house first.

It seems the way to overcome my reluctance to start anything is to trick my mind. I do this by:

  • Setting a timer for 10 minutes and telling myself I can stop when the 10 minutes are up – usually by that time I’m having fun writing and don’t want to quit
  • Promising a reward when the task is completed, like having a cup of tea and some chocolate
  • Continue to procrastinate but do so by completing other tasks that I’ve been putting off (e.g., procrastinate on the novel by making phone calls and responding to emails)

More Resources

In Procrastination is Not Laziness, David Cain provides a more in-depth look at the relationship between procrastination and perfectionism.

Check out The Now Habit for a book-length explanation of why we procrastinate and what to do about it from Neil Fiore.

Photo credit
Photo of Queen of Procrastination by Ariana Escobar via flickr and licensed under CC 2.0

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