Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Procrastinators Anonymous

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a procrastinator.

Last week, I vowed to have 50 more pages of my WIP finished by September 10th. That would get me to the halfway point of my book. Piece of cake, right? Wrong. In the last week, I’ve only written three pages. It’s not that I didn’t have the time. I could squeeze it in. My problem is the P word, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the potty (unless it means cleaning it).

I’ve been procrastinating. Every time I think about sitting down with my laptop, I find something that needs cleaned, laundry that needs done, baskets of clothes that need folded, grocery shopping—the list is endless.

All this made me wonder why people procrastinate. I found that the reasons are as numerous as the excuses procrastinators use. According to the about.com website, the top reasons are:
1. Fear of failure.
2. Fear of success.
3. Perfectionism
4. Boredom
5. Anger
6. Lack of skills or information.
7. Poor health.
8. Distractions.
9. Task seems too large.

I don’t buy all of these reasons. I understand the first three. (I think I have all three of those problems.) Four, eight and nine I also get. Five makes no sense to me. How can anger make you procrastinate? Number six is a cop-out. It sounds like something a procrastinator would say: “ I don’t know how to do it.” I don’t believe poor health has anything to do with procrastination. If someone is sick, they have a legitimate reason not to do something.

So, what’s the solution? One is to set goals. Even if you don’t reach your goal, you will have accomplished more than if you didn’t have one.

Next, prioritize. That’s one of the toughest for me. I know it’s more important to write than to check my e-mail or clean the toilet, but knowing and doing aren’t the same thing.

Another is to make sure your work area is organized. I use a laptop—my work area is my lap. Not a problem.

One of the best solutions I read about was to tell yourself you’ll only write for five minutes, then you’ll do the laundry (or whatever it is you think is more important). Chances are good that you’ll work a lot longer than five minutes.

For me, the best solution can be summed up in a quote by Mary Heston Vorse: “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”

I'm ready to get back to those 50 pages. How about you?

1 comment:

Kristine said...

Perfectionism is my excuse for procrastination and tempts me every day, it seems. When it hits, I find that I need more "bum glue" than usual to keep my butt in the chair and get some work done.