Are you doing it right now? Are you procrastinating by reading about how to stop procrastinating? The other day I caught myself doing this very thing.
I was listening to the audiobook version of The War of Art, a book about how to stop putting things off, which is a problem I normally don’t even have. What was I doing? Why was I reading this book? To prepare for a time in the future when I might find myself procrastinating?
I realized it was just a distraction to avoid doing what I knew I should be doing: staring at the blank page and filling it with words.
There are times when procrastinating is a good thing, such as when you need to mull things over and let them stew in the background of your mind, or when you’re dealing with issues that may resolve themselves if given a bit of time. I’m sure you can think of some examples from your work or personal life that fit into these categories. I’ll give you a couple of work examples.
Sometimes when you’re working on a complex project, if you do it quickly, you won’t do it as well as you could if you instead took the request, considered it, and held off on taking action for a few hours, a day, or a few days. Once you have the premise in your mind, you’ll find yourself considering the problem and passively coming up with solutions to issues that you wouldn’t have addressed had you completed the project right away. In this type of situation, procrastinating on challenging tasks can pay off, resulting in a better outcome.
Another scenario where procrastinating can be helpful is when you consider working on projects with a very low probability of success, or projects the parameters of which are unclear and need time to solidify. In many cases, at least in my job, the need for these projects goes away with time, as the business realizes that the parameters have changed or are unworkable, or another project is more realistic and requires that the old project be scrapped. In this case you can save time that you would have put into work that will later have been thrown away. Throwing away hard work is a frustrating feeling. All is not always lost in these cases, of course, because some of these failed projects provide learning opportunities and require the creation of solutions than can be applied elsewhere in the future.
But what if you actually do want to stop putting off a task, but instead you find yourself listening to self-help books or reading articles like this one to avoid what you should be doing? Here’s how to stop procrastining cold turkey, including procrastinating through reading articles such as this, in 2 steps!
1. Turn Off All Inputs
Turn all the inputs off. That means turn off your phone, your email, your audiobooks and podcasts, your TV, your music, everything. All sounds and interactions must go. Just in case it’s unclear, this includes all social media, InstaFaceSnap, all of it.
It’s hard to do output when the input is going. You need quiet. You need to be in a vacuum that begins to pull your creative forces out of you. There are some exceptions to this, as in background noise or certain kind of music may help in some cases, but if you’re stuck, do away with everything, and only introduce other factors if you want to test them after your work is flowing again.
Move from wherever you are where the work is not happening. Sometimes a change of scenery can be all that it takes to get you moving on whatever it is you’ve been putting off. Take your laptop and move to the kitchen, or the basement, or a different couch, or to your car. Go to a library or a quiet coffee shop. Make sure you leave all the disturbances behind (remember number 1).
That’s it. Try these and I’m confident you’ll get your tasks moving again.