Posts Tagged ‘procrastination’
Surprise, surprise – I have a cold again. I hate colds probably more than any other person you know. Yes, having a weak immune system (no matter how healthily I try to eat or how well I try to take care of myself) and getting colds a lot more often than anyone I know is truly annoying.
Even though my cold symptoms aren’t typically that serious, they are bad enough to limit my social life and decrease my productivity nearly to zero.
Being a one person-company doesn’t help either. After all that’s how many freelance writers operate. We write, edit, research, query, organize, brainstorm, market and a lot more. Having a head that feels like 40 pounds or feeling dizzy as soon as you get up doesn’t really help with any of our tasks.
But while there is not much I can do about the colds, I can at least think of the benefits (and lessons learned) to avoid feeling blue and frustrated.
1) You save money. Assuming you have a solid insurance, having a cold means you don’t go out much and therefore you don’t spend much. This way you have a lot more to spend when you are feeling all energetic and healthy. Maybe you can put some of them in your saving or traveling accounts. And I am not making this up. You should see how good my account balance is right now.
2) You can procrastinate, and not feel guilty about it. There are many ways to procrastinate, and despite our best efforts we find ourselves doing it. I know that we need our relaxation moments but we often spend a lot more time resting/delaying/dealing with less challenging stuff/depressing over queries more than we should or need to.
If you are not feeling terrible, there are of course productive things you can during a cold. But chances are you are not going to be nearly as efficient as your healthy self. So take this time to procrastinate away. Watch mindless TV, feel upset, eat some comfort food….
3) You can reach a whole level of motivation and drive. The longer a cold sticks around, the more driven I become to do more for my career, and do it sooner and faster. You realize how important time is one more time, and when you have the energy to do things to reach your goals, you should just do so.
4) You can get the not-so-exciting tasks done. Not all tasks require much energy. Try organizing your desktop, getting rid of all the resources you don’t need, rearranging bookmarks, going over your markets lists. Note all your ideas. Go over your old posts to see what you have covered so far.
Once you get your health back, you can get back to work with guns blazing.
How do you deal with your colds?
One advertising teacher had told me there was a word for people who were addicted to deadlines, and the adrenaline that last minute rush created. I’ve not forgotten the definition. Yes, I was pretty guilty of it when I heard the word.
The easier a subject was to study, the more I procrastinated. Oh, I procrastinated for the subjects that were hard for me too- I just did it a little less and gave myself a little more time.
For some reason, I just couldn’t focus or worry enough until 2-3 days were left before the exam. And if I thought I could pull it off, I’ve been known to start studying as late as in the morning of the exam!
Of course I made exceptions for term projects, theses, grades I needed to improve and while I was studying to get into university.
I’m much more professional and careful now. I take my assignment deadlines very seriously, and start the project almost as soon as I accept it. I also make sure I finish it a couple of days before the deadline so that I am ready for last minute problems.
And although my sense of professionalism has made me procrastinate less, it hasn’t eliminated it completely. Let’s take my first novel for instance.
Since it is my first, I don’t have an editor/publisher pressuring me to finish 5 chapters in 2 weeks or something. It is not that I don’t try to write as much as I can whenever I can. But when I get stuck with a scene, I let myself suffer from the writer blues, and sometimes it is hard to take back the inspiration I need for fiction.
Then there are the blogs I run, but I don’t publish as often as I’d like to because in between gigs, other marketing efforts, market research, and trying to squeeze in a novel, I sometimes lose more time when resting than I intend to.
But is procrastination purely evil? Or is it a necessary tool for innovation? Does it always make our lives worse? Or does it really help with productivity and creativity?
The two posts I read on it made me wonder. The first one was Melanie Brook’s article on Freelance Switch “The Pull of Procrastination”, and the second one was the article that inspired Melanie’s post “Procrastination Is Essential to Innovation” on Harvard Business Review, written by Whitney Johnson.
I was amazed at how successful Melanie was at not procrastinating, and I did relate with Johnson’s tendency to delay things she wasn’t familiar with – even though she needed to do them to promote the thing she was familiar with-her book.
Both Melanie and Whitney seem to agree on the fact that a little anxiety about an approaching deadline might be necessary. Desirable even. But too much of it is bound to decrease productivity and innovation.
I agree. Below is a list of when I find procrastination a friend or a foe.
It’s a friend when:
- It really makes you get off your butt. Yes, ideally we’d all start doing something about dreams and goals right here and right now. But this is where the saying “better late than never” comes in. Starting and rushing to finish is better than not finishing at all. But of course this goes more for first drafts you write for yourself and not for your clients.
- It gives you adrenaline that was missing for a long time. I don’t know about you, but some adrenaline does fuel my productivity, speed of learning and creativity. I remember promising to a friend that a story would be ready at a certain time. Guess what? It worked. She got the story – and a good one – at the promised time. I just didn’t want to disappoint a reader, no matter how hard and fast I had to work to get it done.
It feels great to find yourself reaching a productivity level you never knew existed.
It’s a foe when:
- It creates extra stress that you could probably do without. As freelancers (and/or writers) we are under enough pressure and stress already about running a one-person company, responsible for all the aspects of our business. And even if you are collaborating with others, it is a lot different from just being responsible from one or two tasks and leaving the rest up to your boss.
- It messes up your schedule and other tasks.
- It makes you enjoy the project less.
It all depends on what you are procrastinating against and how you procrastinate. How much damage are you doing to your work? To your peace of mind? To your career?
Or are you using your procrastination for inspiration?
Just like most things in life, procrastination lies in a grey area, and it is up to you to pull it to the white zone, or let it drag you to the black.
Many books have been written and chapters have been monopolized for time management. One of the most popular,m aybe even the most popular, procrastination activity of all times is reading and sending e-mails.
Sure, you can do your best to avoid scam. You can warn your friends against sending you weird chain emails that mean well but end up being nothing but time-wasters. You know those emails. It can be a collection of funny cartoons or jokes, or much worse, an e-mail in the form of a story or a greeting card that urges you to forward to as many people as you can.
I don’t get those emails often anymore, and I immediately delete the ones I get. But managing your inbox doesn’t end there. You have work e-mails, e-mails from friends, newsletters, notifications, offers and more.
Ideally, your work e-mail and personal e-mail are two separate accounts. In this day and age, one email isn’t sufficient, especially if you are a freelancer.
But what about those newsletters? If you are working online, there is a big chance you want to keep up with the industry. You need to follow blogs. You updated need information. So you sign up for newsletters. You sign up for free e-books. But of course after signing up for 40 newsletters (it can and should happen if you are educating yourself in specific areas). But keeping up with the information you are receiving is a challenging activity. What you should do is to create many relevant folders so that you can store different things separately and you can return to them whenever you need.
Of course it doesn’t end here. You might also have chosen to be notified when someone comments on a blog post or article you commented upon. Someone might have commented on your article or blog. You need to keep up with these as well.
Timothy Ferriss is an established entrepreneur and blogger who tells you how to deal with all the distractions in your life in his book The 4-Hour WorkWeek. As the title suggests, the book is all about reducing your work week to a mere 4 hours. That’s right, not even your work day but your work week! It sounds implausible but he talks about everything in step-by-step detail. It is possible.
However, I am pretty sure I spend at least 4 hours a week, just checking and reading my emails. He suggests that you should only check your email only twice a day- once in the morning and once in the afternoon. And obviously he is talking about being done with the task quickly and efficiently. It is good advice but one we struggle at keeping. Surely, it can be done. But it does takes patience, effort, and an e-mail checking diet. After all, which writer doesn’t want to see if she has published her recent article or heard from that publisher?
We writers do in fact have many work-related and significant reasons to have a love affair with our email accounts. But we can and should work on cutting the habit and maximizing our productivity. Organizing our e–mails, and not spending more than enough time on them, are good starting points to stop the e-mails from turning us into procrastinators.
Procrastination means delaying your actions. Everyone does it. It’s not all about laziness. Some things just always get in the way of a productive day. Sometimes it is your kids, spouses or other relationships. Sometimes there is a chore or an illness. And sometimes you just feel stuck, blocked or tired. So you feel like doing anything but working.
Yes, the Internet is full of articles on how to beat procrastination. But the truth is, we all always procrastinate, one way or the other, whether we can help it or not. It is human nature. I am pretty sure sometimes the motivation is wonderfully great that delaying doesn’t even cross your mind.Take Jake Gyllenhaal for instance. Does it look like he procrastinated when it came to muscling up for his leading role in Prince of Persia? But then again he received an extra 2 million dollars just to build the muscles. Give me that money and see if I ever procrastinate when it comes to dieting…
Below, Jake Gyllenhall as Prince of Persia.
But hey, for us the regular folk, the motivations and the payouts aren’t always great. So instead of getting depressed and feeling guilty about all the hours and minutes taken from your work, take all those moments and turn them into something useful.
Taking Advantage of Procrastionation: 7 Tips for Writers
1) Movies. Movies are a great method of relaxation. And everyone loves a good movie, right? So lay back and watch it. Enjoy the film and write about what you think about it afterwards. Put it on your blog. Turn it into a research idea. Make that movie count for both fun and some bucks.
2) Music. Almost anyone has a favorite genre. And music is something that is integrated into in our lives and we can create many topics revolving around music. Write about it.
3) Diet breaching and procrastination. Yes, you had sworn you’d never eat that much. But you were upset or happy. Maybe you were just hungry and lazy. Fine. Go ahead. Write about it.
Diets never lose popularity. If you can manage a nice a little angle with some edge, you can query fitness magazines. You can post it on your blog if it is a related topic.
You can even review a diet book you were supposed to follow. Post it to wherever you feel appropriate. In fact, why not make some money with it? Register to Amazon’s associates program and get the link for that book. Place the link in your review.
Now, you have a second income possibility and another reason to promote that article. If it is an e-book, go and look around Clickbank. See how it is doing. And while you are at it, you might decide to write about those books, see which ones you are tempted to try. And then…That’s right. Then you write about it.
4) Out with friends: One of the most popular procrastination method of all times. While you are already out and away from your computers and notepads, just let go, recharge and come back.
5) Hour-long phone conversations with your friends. I suspect this happens more to women than men. Your friends might call to rant about their relationships or just spill their guts about their newest crush. And right there, you just got some nice material for posts on relationships and dating. We all have experience and go through some annoying yet hilarious phases in our lives. I am not saying you write the conversation down as it is and expose your friends. But you might very well use it as an inspiration point. You might not go overbroad as Sex and The City’s Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and base a whole column about it, but you can count those hours as brainstorming sessions and get something out for you.
6) Magazines. Whether you like fun lifestyle magazines or stuff about your hobbies or industries, blindly going from one page to another, why don’t you pay more attention to the headlines? The editor’s note? The masthead? The topics? What got your attention the most?
You never know, you might (and should) try to pitch that magazine someday. Even if you don’t, it is an excellent resource to keep in mind when it comes to take notes on how to grab attention and make more sales.
7) Books. There is quite nothing like a page-turner. Books that make it impossible for you to put it down don’t come out that often. So, don’t put it down.
But keep a (mental) note on what parts you like the most. You can choose to review this book, or you might want to study what made it into a seller. Also look at the publisher. After all, you might have a book manuscript belonging to a similar genre. And now you know at least one other publisher who might see that genre as relevant.
You see, any procrastination method is not to be feared but to be enjoyed and taken advantage of. This way you will have to worry less about your productivity levels. This attitude might even seriously prevent your writer’s block.
But of course if you procrastinate all the time, there is no way you can benefit from it.