Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Procrastination

Good Housekeeping Magazine has an excellent article in this month's issue on one of my favorite subjects: Procrastination! I could easily title it "Everything I know about procrastination but conveniently forget." You can read the article in its entirety here. It elaborates on these six ways to stop procrastinating - all things I've tried and know to work, if I'd just stop procrastinating and use them...

  1. Replace the finish line with the starting line, or stop looking at the enormity of the entire project and just concentrate on taking the first step to start it. If you slip up, just start again, remembering that big projects are just a series of beginnings. Boy, that is so true of making a quilt.
  2. Run a dash, or commit to just 5 minutes to do nothing but work on the task that had you stalled, then quit. It's easy to convince yourself that you can handle 5 minutes of the most horrible task. But as the article points out, often once you get going, you find you don't want to stop and you put in much more than your 5 minutes. This is like the advice to go into the studio everyday and do something, anything, doesn't matter what, for a few minutes. It gets me past that block that makes it hard to open the door, and one thing very often leads to another until time has flown by and lots has been accomplished.
  3. Skip grandiose goals, or don't let making to-do lists and planning become substitutes for real action. Oh, yes. I spend so much time getting organized, prioritizing, worrying, anything but beginning. Sometimes a little organization is beneficial, but as they say, sometimes it's just more procrastination that escalates the paralyzing fear.
  4. Keep distraction at a distance, or remove yourself from the temptations that eat up your time. Let the answering machine handle any phone calls, don't take a side trip to the computer to check e-mail "real quick," or make one quick phone call first. Just "turn down the noise" and focus on your task at hand. There'll be plenty of time to do those other things later.
  5. Schedule fun first, or as they say, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." They refer to "procrastination-induced cloud of guilt" that we let overshadow our lives. Oh, yeah - guilty as charged. Life has to be a balance of nose-to-the-grindstone and stress-releasing play - a reward for all that hard work and a rejuvenator. So while you are scheduling that work, don't forget to schedule in some downtime as well. It will give you extra incentive to get that work done!
  6. Defang your fear, or ask what's the worst that could happen, then figure out how you'd cope with that. Theoretically, this exercise will make you realize that no matter what, your life won't be over. By facing your fear and devising a safety net, you allow yourself to stop worrying and start working. I'm all for being prepared for every contingency, mostly because I don't like to be caught off guard. But I've had a hard time using this mentality with my quilting.

One can feel quite a rush when overcoming procrastination to move forward on something. Today was one of those times for me - I finally sat down and reworked my pricing formula. This has needed doing for longer than I care to admit. I'd avoided it because it necessitated me making a decision, which you know I hate doing. It meant doing a bit of research, a bit of guessing, and especially it meant emotionally detaching myself from my work and valuing it more than I have in the past. I finally came up with something that gave me comfortable figures when applied to a variety of pieces. Oh, the sense of relief! No more guessing! Now I have the tool I need to finish filling out some entry forms which I've been putting off completing...

4 comments:

stop-procrastination said...

Yes, i agree with you about the need to stop procrastination. I've found help at http://www.stop-procrastination.org and that website has a variety of ways to stop procrastination. Give it a try. I've tried and i can already see an improvement in my condition.

Feather on a Wire said...

You know how all that fills you with optimism, you read it, you KNOW you CAN do it.
Then I realised, I'm sitting here reading this instead of clearing up the sitting room, getting showered, emptying the dishwasher or any other number of mundane tasks.......
Oh well.................

Liz Plummer said...

Thank you for this, Sheila ... now to set the timer for 5 minutes and get on with something...

I really like the way your 'off the grid' piece has turned out, by the way.

The Idaho Beauty said...

You're welcome. It's a real trick not to let blogging itself become a form of procrastination.

And thanks, Liz for your kind words about my quilt.