Procrastination has a bad reputation. If you procrastinate, surely you wear the slacker label, at least from time to time. What if that’s wrong? You’re putting off your project, but you’re getting ready to get started. A quick Google search gave me the name for this: structured or active procrastination. While you seem to the outside world to be wasting time, you’re completing the preparation for what you want to create.
You could be procrastinating to learn the skills you need for your project. If you don’t know how to do something, chances are you’re not going to do it. Watching YouTube videos or reading how-to articles may look like time wasting. If you’re committed to your project, you’re just acquiring the skills you need.
Maybe you’re inventing a better way to complete the task. If you don’t like writing on the computer, you’re deciding what you would like better. Or you’re automating some processes so you can do less of the things you hate.
You could be giving yourself an attitude adjustment by talking yourself out of your fear of failure – or of success. If you just lack motivation, remember that most of the time motivation comes after action.
There could be things you need to do before getting started. I can write with dishes overflowing the kitchen sink and cat hair dappling the carpet, but maybe you need a cleaner environment in which to create. Or you need to knock out that list of errands so they’re not distracting you while you work, knowing you have to stop by 5 to get to the store before they close.
It could be that the project just won’t take you very long to complete. If you have four hours to complete a one hour project, you’re probably going to wait three hours to start. This is when you can complete some of those tasks that you feel really need to be done before you can create something.
Maybe you’re deciding what’s really important. If you’ve been delaying a creative project for a while, maybe it’s just not important enough to you. Choose another project – move on to what you care about. Be careful with this one – actions have consequences.
It’s possible that you just need to take a break. Relax, rest, and take care of yourself. No one is especially creative when exhausted. You can’t give when you have nothing left. Julia Cameron calls this process filling the well. Read something inspiring or go for a walk. Or take a nap – no judgment here!
My Google search also revealed that procrastinators tend to be hard on themselves. When you start berating yourself for waiting so long to get started, just stop. Relax. Breathe. Give yourself credit for starting. Everything you did before has prepared you for this.
No matter how good the reason for procrastination, eventually you’ll have to get to work. Like all good things, procrastination must end. You won’t create anything if you never get started. Next time you procrastinate, think about why. Some bouts of procrastination are more productive than others, but in the end, you’ll have to do the work. No one is going to create it for you.
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