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Share Your Tip For Overcoming Procrastination

by Jennifer on March 25, 2010

By Jennifer Blanchard

At the end of last month, I announced that March is Reader Appreciation month. And in that post I mentioned that I’d be doing giveaways throughout the month.

Well…time got ahead of me and here we are one week from April and I haven’t given anything away (oh the joys of working a full-time job, going to school, starting a small business AND running this blog!).

So today I am starting the giveaways.

In the comments below, share your best tip for overcoming procrastination. Everyone who does will have their name put in a drawing to win the following:

  • A Moleskine Cahier Journal and a Sharpie fine-tip pen (my new favorite!)–I’m giving 3 of these away.

I will be announcing all the winners next week—so be sure to subscribe to the blog or check back frequently to see if you’re one of the three winners! (And there are more great prizes coming next week!)

Good luck! And thanks for sharing your tip with our community.

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1 Jason Campbell March 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I will start with the most obvious 😉

I make lists. When I feel either overwhelmed or as if I am in a rut, I will make a list of everything on “Top of My Mind”. Once I get it out of my head and onto paper or screen where I can see it, I can fight through the decision-making paralysis and actually start working on something.

Lists are even more useful when you make them with someone else. To paraphrase David Allen, you are less likely to break a commitment you make to someone else than you are to break a commitment to yourself.

So, my tip is to make lists.


– jason

2 ami@40daystochange March 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I love the tip to identify the very first little thing to get the job done, even if it’s 5 minutes worth of activity, and do it.

Alternatively, schedule on your calendar the time when you will do the first 20 minute chunk. Honor the calendar!

On the ‘honoring your procrastinating self’ front: set up a timer for 10 or 20 or 30 minutes and just let yourself do the procrastinating thing you do, whether it’s watch tv, surf the internet, or whatever. But when the dinger dings, on to the first task on the old to do list.

3 Matt March 25, 2010 at 12:36 pm

This is something I’m constantly battling with. I have two unfinished novel manuscripts and a number of poems that need revising, on top of all the other stuff I have ideas for, so this blog has definitely come in handy for me, but I’ve found a few things that mentally help me along the way, too.

The thing that really helps me overcome procrastinating is looking to writers I most admire, and what they’ve said about writing, the work behind, the writing process, etc. One thing to keep in mind if you’re an aspiring novelist or poet, is that, as I’ve written on a sticky note that hangs above my desk, “the book, the poem won’t write itself.”

In other words, the if you’re an “aspiring writer,” the ultimate goal is to do away with the “aspiring” part, at least in my view. And looking to your favorite artists and just knowing how much work they put into their masterpieces in a way makes you realize that if so many before you have done this kind of thing, you can as well — even with the hectic life of a full-time job and family, there is time. You just need to find it and use it. Your favorites did, so why not?

4 William March 25, 2010 at 12:43 pm

For me, it can’t be one tip. As soon as I rely on one, I get used to it. My lists become back ground noise. I have to mix it up and take different approaches every week or so. Right now, my daily list (developed the night before) is losing effectiveness so its back to a timer for 20 minutes sprints.
Next I’ll kill Launchy so I can’t get to my browser easily….and read my RSS feed and end up filling in comments.

Procrastination is like the stuck window, you get used to forcing it open until its a habit so mixing up my approach is the only way to keep on top of it.

5 Davey Jones March 25, 2010 at 1:18 pm

I usually take walks, I live in downtown Atlanta, and once I’m away from the typical homeless hangout spots, I go to a park or some place where I let nature happen to me and I can just feel what I need to write beforehand.

Or I smoke weed.

6 Rabia March 25, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Setting a timer for ten-minute writing sessions. Oh, the pressure of that ticking clock. 🙂

7 Paulo Campos March 25, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I figured one out accidentally yesterday. I’ve been slacking off revising my novel since Saturday and haven’t been writing my blog or doing much of anything productive. I started writing a blog post listing my Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday excuses and imagined what it seemed like the next few days’ excuses would be. It was really easy to imagine what I’d be ready to use as excuses.

I wrote them out and posted them right where I write: calling myself out preemptively. I never tried this before, but once I realized I was trapping myself in an excuses rut it turned out to be an effective way out. I got lots of catch up work done last night and am on a good track today as well.

8 Janel March 25, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I can’t stand unfinished To-Do lists. I keep several lists on my Google homepage and I also have a whiteboard in my kitchen that I pass by frequently.

If that doesn’t work, I have a timer on my desktop. I have also tried setting a deadline for a piece, real or self-imposed. There’s nothing like knowing that time is ticking away to get me writing.

9 Ryphna March 25, 2010 at 5:43 pm

A timer is one of my favorite…
Write or Die is also very effective on me.
Friendly competition work the best! When I can just race one of my friend into doing something I enjoy it even more! We do “compete” as we compare our progress but we also support each other and never let one of us get “stuck” wich help a lot!

10 Brittany March 25, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Ummm… write only what you love and you’ll find yourself procrastinating less. 🙂

11 Stormy March 25, 2010 at 8:22 pm

NaNoWriMo always gives me the kick that I need to get moving on a writing project. If only they had events all year long! Also, participating in their word sprints, which they just started last year, was so helpful! No matter what I was doing, I would drop it and write for 15 or 20 minutes with people all over the world and I would write more words in that 15 or 20 minutes than I would in 2 hours by myself.

12 Kimberley Parfitt March 26, 2010 at 11:00 am

Jennifer, I must admit that when a friend referred me to your site and I realized that I was not alone in my procrastinating world of writing, I purely and wholeheartedly dove in and created my own blog within 2 weeks. (And I have been writing for 30 years.) I realized the love and support that I have from my family and a few close friends were enough for me to bare my thoughts and know that if I failed in a fabulous manner, they would be there for me. That is my tip for overcoming procrastination…Count your blessings and it is okay that you don’t know everything today, because you can learn more tomorrow.

13 Sandra S. Richardson March 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm

“I’ll tell you right now
Any trick in the book now, baby, all that I can find.”
“Sunshine Superman” by Donovan

And using “any trick in the book” it still comes down to, to quote Nike, “Just Do It!”

What works best for me it just telling myself, making myself, do the writing. I’m procrastinating right now. I have a story to finish that I’m sick of working on, and so I’m visiting web sites that I follow and taking the time to leave comments.

I’m closing this now and I’m going to go “Just Write It!”


14 Sharon H March 26, 2010 at 4:07 pm

The distraction factor is highest on my list of procrastinating detours. Best thing for me is to turn off my phone as well as shutdown email and facebook and twitter. The discipline to turn off these time-consumers allows me to do what I really want to do…. write!

15 Monica Rodriguez March 26, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I struggle with this too, and William is right. After a while, the technique or approach for beating the procrastination becomes too familiar and it’s useless to me.

What helps me is to break down what I need to do into smaller bits. If I know I can get x done right now, I’m more likely to do it. It keeps me from getting overwhelmed by what I have to do.

What I HAVEN’T had the willpower to do, but would probably get the best results for me: shutting off the wireless connection on my laptop. 😉

I’ve read a lot about using the timer. I think I’m going to try that. I need that new approach!

16 Megs - Scattered Bits March 26, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Write something that has no purpose. Write anything, any words at all that I can get down on the paper, then start following them somewhere that makes sense. Oddly enough, just starting is often enough to get something happening. Sure, those first words are rusty, but they’re words, and as I go on, they become smoother, better words that I’m more likely to be able to keep.

But what makes it work is two things. No pressure. It’s something different. Getting the muse warmed up at all is the key. I can get it pointed in the right direction in a minute. Too busy writing to stop and do that first. 😀

17 Jennifer March 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I find that the more busy I am, the better I am at making myself get things done. Laziness perpetuates laziness. I signed up for bootcamp at the gym a couple weeks ago and getting up at six and going to the gym has improved my writing output immensely.

Macfreedom turning off my internet connection also helps. It makes me cry, scream, and kick things but when my tantrum is done I get to writing.

18 Laura Lee Bloor March 29, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I bribe myself. If I get x done now, I can do y later in reward. It works most of the time.

Jennifer, I love your comment about “laziness perpetuates laziness.” That is so true for me! The busier I am, the more productive I tend to be as well. Good luck with your bootcamp!

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