How Do You Cure Procrastination?


  • Creator

    Most of you write, how do you cure procrastination?


  • Pitcrew

    Hmm, I'll get back to you on that.


  • Pitcrew

    do it tomorrow. :P



  • Take care of the little things. At least for me, cleaning the house is both procrastinating, and getting around to doing stuff I should be doing (even if something is more important at the time), which gives me a temporary good work ethic that I can carry on to the task at hand. It's also much easier to do stuff in a neat and tidy home.

    Think of it as warming up.


  • Coder

    Do not fear the Shitty First Draft.


  • Pitcrew

    I read an article recently that had an interesting take on procrastination. I can't find it atm but here's a similar view:

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-procrastination-equation/201012/procrastination-and-the-perfectionism-myth

    As best as we can figure, task anxiety will just as likely get you to start early as to start late. That is, worrying about a deadline will make you procrastinate more if you are impulsive, the sort of person to whom avoiding a dreaded task or blocking it from your awareness makes perfect sense from a short-term perspective. If you aren't impulsive, anxiety is a cue that you should get cracking—and, as a result, you actually start earlier. The real culprit is impulsiveness, not anxiety. (But you can't be expected to discern this effect through personal reflection; relying only on your own experiences, you will never know that anxiety decreases procrastination for many others.)

    The myth that perfectionism creates procrastination makes even less sense. What traits do you associate with procrastination? A) Being messy and disorganized or B) Being neat and orderly? If you choose option A, good for you; you are right. Perfectionists best fit description B, being neat and orderly, and unsurprisingly, they don't tend to procrastinate. The research—from Robert Slaney, who developed the Almost Perfect Scale to measure perfectionism, to my own meta-analytical research article, The Nature of Procrastination—shows this clearly.

    So, the trick to cure procrastination is to identify the cause: impulsiveness. Work on that and you're well on your way to fixing your procrastination issues.



  • @Ide said:

    I read an article recently that had an interesting take on procrastination. I can't find it atm but here's a similar view:

    What traits do you associate with procrastination? A) Being messy and disorganized or B) Being neat and orderly? If you choose option A, good for you; you are right. Perfectionists best fit description B, being neat and orderly, and unsurprisingly, they don't tend to procrastinate. The research—from Robert Slaney, who developed the Almost Perfect Scale to measure perfectionism, to my own meta-analytical research article, The Nature of Procrastination—shows this clearly.

    I love that it put shades on the being neat and orderly part.


  • Pitcrew

    Well, it is Psychology Today after all.


  • Creator

    @Thenomain said:

    Do not fear the Shitty First Draft.

    This is actually a part of the root of my procrastination, to be honest.


  • Pitcrew

    Embrace the fact that the first draft will be utter crap but you can't fix what's NOT* on the page.

    Also, Butt In Chair Time. Carve out a section of time, every day, park yourself in front of your keyboard with nothing to do but stare at your word processor of choice. Bonus points if you can turn off everything else: turn off your internet, get one of those blocker programs that lets you lock yourself out of Facebook/Twitter/email/whatever else, and then for your allotted period of time (20 minutes, 2 hours, whatever) you can either write, or you can sit there and stare at the blank page.

    Eventually you'll write. Maybe not the first day, maybe not the second, but eventually. And it gets easier. Maybe the 5th day you'll write 50 words, but by the 10th day you might be up to 500. It's like exercising, and that particular writer's muscle starts out super weaksauce.

    Somebody way smarter than me explained it like this: you can't wait for the muse to show up, but when she does, you damn well better be sitting there waiting for her, because she's not going to look for you, she's going to move on to the next guy.

    (*Edited because, uh, you can fix what IS on the page.)


  • Creator

    @Echx said:

    Embrace the fact that the first draft will be utter crap but you can't fix what's on the page.

    Also, Butt In Chair Time. Carve out a section of time, every day, park yourself in front of your keyboard with nothing to do but stare at your word processor of choice. Bonus points if you can turn off everything else: turn off your internet, get one of those blocker programs that lets you lock yourself out of Facebook/Twitter/email/whatever else, and then for your allotted period of time (20 minutes, 2 hours, whatever) you can either write, or you can sit there and stare at the blank page.

    Eventually you'll write. Maybe not the first day, maybe not the second, but eventually. And it gets easier. Maybe the 5th day you'll write 50 words, but by the 10th day you might be up to 500. It's like exercising, and that particular writer's muscle starts out super weaksauce.

    Somebody way smarter than me explained it like this: you can't wait for the muse to show up, but when she does, you damn well better be sitting there waiting for her, because she's not going to look for you, she's going to move on to the next guy.

    This is actually excellent advice!



  • Procrastination, for me at least (and the spouse says he's the same) comes out of fear of failure. It's not just accepting that the first draft/pass/attempt at anything will be sucky, it's the fear that when I reach a point where I'm doing well on a project, it becomes harder and harder and harder to keep working on it, because surely (says Fear-Of-Failure Brain) I can't keep up this level of quality.

    So I keep telling myself, it's okay if page one sucks. It's also okay if page one is awesome but page ten sucks. It's okay if page one through ten is good, page eleven is okay, but page twelve is bleh... and so on. And it's really fucking hard.

    Butt in Chair helps. To-do tools like Habitica help (at least for me). Brain trickery helps -- I'll promise yourself I'll work on the task for five minutes, and then give it five solid minutes. Five minutes is better than nothing, and more often than not, inertia will take over, and I'll work for far longer than five minutes.

    Mainly, it's all about persistence and embracing the fact that it's okay to suck.



  • Weird, I don't worry about failure. I don't want to make the effort until I feel inspired, even if it will succeed.

    Even if hungry, this can stop me from cooking. I'll sleep through the hunger.



  • @Ide said:

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-procrastination-equation/201012/procrastination-and-the-perfectionism-myth

    As best as we can figure, task anxiety will just as likely get you to start early as to start late. That is, worrying about a deadline will make you procrastinate more if you are impulsive, the sort of person to whom avoiding a dreaded task or blocking it from your awareness makes perfect sense from a short-term perspective. If you aren't impulsive, anxiety is a cue that you should get cracking—and, as a result, you actually start earlier. The real culprit is impulsiveness, not anxiety. (But you can't be expected to discern this effect through personal reflection; relying only on your own experiences, you will never know that anxiety decreases procrastination for many others.)
    The myth that perfectionism creates procrastination makes even less sense. What traits do you associate with procrastination? A) Being messy and disorganized or B) Being neat and orderly? If you choose option A, good for you; you are right. Perfectionists best fit description B, being neat and orderly, and unsurprisingly, they don't tend to procrastinate. The research—from Robert Slaney, who developed the Almost Perfect Scale to measure perfectionism, to my own meta-analytical research article, The Nature of Procrastination—shows this clearly.

    What a load of bullcrap. I mean, thank you for sharing it, I just think it completely misunderstands the issue.

    I identify with the fear of failure that @Hazmat described. I also do housework/chores as a way to prep for work, like @SG.

    It's a careful balance for creative work of any kind. I'd say habit is important, work ethics is important, but if you're really not feeling it, you're better off taking a walk or playing a videogame. Of course inspiration isn't something you wait for endlessly, but working without any inspiration is fruitless.

    For writing I have to work myself into it. If I've been RPing a lot, I find that my writing gets more fluid and passionate because I get into the groove. Then writing anything else is easier. So it's about habit building, but also inspiration building. If I'm reading something cool on the side while writing, and letting the style of it influence my RP, anything I write after is going to feel pretty good. So I have to actively build up a creative mindset with lots of juice and fluidity, immerse my mind in it, and then inspiration is right there.

    So building work habits is important, but building an inspirational mindset matters just as much.



  • You may be describing the dividing line between writing as an art/vocation, and writing as a craft/profession



  • @Misadventure Well, it certainly depends on what kind of writing you're doing. I don't really see the importance of any such divide, especially as I also stress the importance of work habits.

    If you're writing an article for a magazine, then the inspiration-building process is through research and reading related stuff. But you can't jumpstart yourself from a vacuum of some nebulous emotion like "I need to write now." Sure you can if you've already built that habit, but you'll go through the same process in your head anyway. It just might come faster.



  • Something bothers me about that divide between writing as art and writing as a craft/profession.

    As someone who's gone through the process of breaking into creative work, my experience tells me differently. You can't separate it like that.

    If you want to be good, you have to work on developing it for the majority of your waking time. That will not work out as well if your full-time job is completely unrelated to the field in which you'd like to do "art." You will be wasting most of your productive time not advancing your basic skills, and will be too drained and tired to do that after.

    So you have to sell out. Some examples:

    I wanted to be a painter and do cool graphics work. Instead of goofing off on it as a hobby in my spare time, I got into 3D graphics, found out what pays and built up freelance work. Does it mean I'm not doing art if I'm working on arch viz #349857345? I'm still building aesthetic skills and other abilities while doing that "boring" assignment. This will help when I go on to make something creative.

    I wanted to be a musician. So I'm playing gigs at clubs, doing covers of songs I might not have touched otherwise because I have taste. Yet it all advances my musical skills and abilities, so playing those few songs that I hate means I'll eventually be much better when I play the ones I love, or when I work on my own stuff.

    You need to work on your craft/profession if you want to do it as an art/vocation, is what I'm saying. You can't separate it, it's like building a house without the foundation. Gotta do the sellout gruntwork without grumbling.

    It ties into procrastination because it is all about delayed gratification. We don't want to start working because the payoff is so far away on the finish line. So I don't want to practice playing Jolene, but if I keep that long-term goal in my head, that makes it easier.



  • I wasn't making a dichotomy, I was describing a spectrum.

    What I meant was there is a line between working when it comes to you, and you are inspired, and working when you don't have that, and still making progress, and hopefully kindling that creative enjoyment along the way. I deal a lot with creators who basically only chase that high of their ideas. They don't sit down and work on techniques and all the hard work when they don't have that fire.

    I use the term art there as that thing you create from inspiration, and vocation meaning you get that inspiration.
    I use craft to mean the technical aspects, and profession to mean you do it even when the urge doesn't strike you.

    Part of that is as an outsider looking in, many authors I've read say write every day, whether you are feeling fired up or not.

    Me, I work when fired up, but a lot of things can fire me up. When it doesn't happen, I am really really ... procrastinaty.



  • @Sundown said:

    @Misadventure Well, it certainly depends on what kind of writing you're doing. I don't really see the importance of any such divide, especially as I also stress the importance of work habits.

    I don't know about this. I think the divide exists, at least for me, but I don't think it's "art" versus "work." I think it's in how we approach our "art" versus how we approach out "work." I started my career as a newspaper reporter, then moved into audit investigation (where I had to write 10-page monster narrative reports on financial fraud), and I'm in technical writing now. None of this is strictly narrative (even journalism always felt to me a lot like story assembly) and I could always bang out the actual work pretty quickly (getting the information for it was always the time consuming thing, but I got a charge out of actually writing the stuff, particularly on deadline).

    It's much harder for me to sit down and get my shit together to write creatively, at least in terms of narrative fiction (I waste plenty of time MU*ing). Part of this is because, after doing this shit for 8-hours a day, writing even more fun narrative stuff feels like more grind, and I want to do other things. But it's not just that.

    I think the primary difference for me is motivation, and I don't just mean monetarily. Having deadlines that will fuck something up if I miss them, helps me. Having a manager yell at me if I'm not turning around something quick enough, helps me. This has to be done, and it has to be done now and fixed with your editor later if it's not perfect, and I can't sit around and polish it and play with it until it's just a thing nobody but me will ever see.

    I essentially need to create consequences for myself for not doing shit. Which is how you treat your art like work (I agree this is what you need to do), it's just really, really hard without a yell-y boss supplying the need to get shit done.



  • @Misadventure said:

    I wasn't making a dichotomy, I was describing a spectrum.

    What I meant is, the same as you work on building your work habits, the craft, the technical aspects - you have to also work on building up your inspiration, your creative mindset. I'm not saying the latter works without the former. It's just that many people think inspiration is something you wait for, either it blesses you or it doesn't. Wrong! It's something you can build up through constructive, focused exercise.


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to MU Soapbox was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.