There’s some irony that I scribbled the draft of this post during my lunch break on Friday. Why do we tend to procrastinate and put off tasks we enjoy? How can we train ourselves to not put off to tomorrow what we can work on today? Is procrastination bad for our work?
While I won’t deny that there is some thrill in working to meet a fast approaching deadline, I don’t think it’s healthy. It creates stress that could be avoided. It also sets us up for feeling that we’ve failed. Today I’ll share my thoughts about why I think this post didn’t get drafted earlier and the steps I’m taking to prevent this from occurring next week.
On Mondays I review my content calendar and outline everything. This happens after I do the planning for my week and set out client tasks and deadlines. The outlines are created in order of due date. It’s logical, but it also sets me up to not make it through all the outlines before I am interrupted and begin work on other tasks.
Why? The Monday morning session is a long and intense one. Figuring out the week’s plan requires thought on each project and the tasks. What I write is intended to be the visual hook to my work, while little acorn creations is mostly photogenic, PennyWise Consulting rarely shares that characteristic. However, client work and contract projects take priority over the words I write. I am often interrupted with a high priority request before I get through the session.
During my writing sessions, I focus on the piece at hand. There is rarely time left in my writing time-block for anything other than one more reread and hoping to catch all my grammatical faux pas.
What are changes I can make to help prevent this last-minute scramble next week?
change one – reverse outline
I will work on outlining the piece that is due the furthest in the future first.
change two – schedule time
During the first ten minutes of each writing session, I will expand the outline for another piece due at a future time.
change three – add another planning session
It’s too much to do all the planning on Monday mornings. Instead I’ll review the content calendar and the status of all outlines on Friday afternoons. Not only will this give me an easier time on Monday I hope it will create an environment where I’m not writing so much by the seat of my pants.
I hope this quick example of my own procrastination and the steps I’m taking to overcome it help you. I’m nervous about how effective using the first ten minutes of my writing sessions to think about something else will be, because of attention residue, but this is an experiment. If it doesn’t work at all, I can change it.
For more on procrastination:
- Later: What does procrastination tell us about ourselves? by James Surowiecki (October 11, 2010 Issue of the New Yorker)
- How to Beat Procrastination by Caroline Webb (Harvest Business Review July 29, 2016)
- Procrastination: A Scientific Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating by James Clear