Defeating The Procrastination Bug

Welcome to Life List Club Friday!

I’m honored to be the first to host our newest member of the LLC, Gary Gauthier. Welcome, Gary!

You can find me over at Sonia Medeiros’ blog with a Life List Club post called Fear Not. I’m also posting over at Haley Whitehall’s blog talking about civil rights in the 1960s. Lots of fun stuff for you to peruse. But first…

Please enjoy Gary’s post on how to stop the negative self-talk and get moving toward your goals. Don’t be shy about showing him some comment love!

 How to Turn Your Goal into Reality

All of us procrastinate at times and there’s no end to our creativity forprocrastination coming up with the reason why we should put off what needs to be done today. There is always the TV show that can’t be missed, the snack that just can’t wait and the friend you’ve been meaning to call since last week. One of the reasons we procrastinate is that we tend to visualize goals as huge commitments of time and hard work that will lead us to a distant place called Achievement. It is easy to justify small detours from a destination that seems very far removed. One argument in favor of procrastination may go something like this: As big as this job is, if I start now and invest a half-hour, it won’t even make a dent, so I might as well wait until I have two or three hours of free time. And then I’ll start!

We have to avoid the common tendency to visualize our goals as huge commitments of time and effort. A writer who wants to write her first novel may look at it as an investment of a total of six months dedicated to research and creative writing. She may not be able to start because she is subconsciously waiting for the six months of free time to materialize. And this may not even include the time for editing! I can easily imagine the writer asking “what would it matter if I started today or a week from next Monday? In the grand scheme of things, it really won’t make a difference. And what if I have something more important that needs to be done today?” This pattern of thinking is familiar to most of us. It is the type of insidious internal dialog to which all procrastinators are susceptible.

I’m going to suggest three things you can do to help overcome the self-defeating tendencies. The first is to develop a clear picture in your mind of the specific tasks that will lead you to your goal. These steps must be concrete and you must be in a position to execute them. You may not be able to control whether you will find a job in six months, but you can decide to send out five resumes a week. In our example of the novelist, she may choose to set aside one hour, five days a week, for writing. She may have to write down the creative ideas behind her story, prepare character sketches, create a plot outline and draft individual scenes. Each one-hour task contributes to the ultimate goal of a completed novel. Focusing on one task at a time makes the project manageable. The point is to stop thinking in terms of the huge project and the insurmountable challenge.

Second, create a written list of prioritized tasks for your goal. The importance of the written list is to avoid the constant self-editing that creates a virtual list that doesn’t exist in reality. Thinking about a virtual to-do list is different from reviewing and updating a written list, which is actually beneficial. Many find a daily or weekly set of small achievements that are planned works best. Some of the items on the list may fall naturally into a daily routine. Some items may require you to set aside some time during the course of a week. What’s important to remember is that you want to hold yourself accountable for the items on the list.

Finally, have faith in the process and celebrate the small accomplishments. Learn to relish the fact that each small task you complete is bringing you inevitably closer to the goal that you’ve set for yourself. Trust your judgment, believe in your abilities and cultivate an inner knowing that you are able to accomplish what it is you set out to do. One of the ways to manifest your faith in the process and build on it is to share your goals with colleagues, friends and relatives and be ready to articulate the discreet steps you’ve identified.

 How do you handle procrastination? Do you sabotage your progress with defeating inner thoughts?

Gary GauthierGary is currently reading The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne and working on his first novel. He started his blog in July 2011. It gives him an opportunity to express and share his appreciation for art and literature. Snippet suggestions are welcome! He occasionally post articles as well. Some of his favorite writers are Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe. But this changes from time to time. Stay tuned! Follow Gary on Twitter and on Google Plus and visit his blog Literary Snippets.

You know I love hearing from you and anxiously await your comments!

Don’t forget to visit me here and here, today. For more blog hopping fun, check out the other writers in the sidebar and see what they’re talking about!

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35 thoughts on “Defeating The Procrastination Bug

  1. As you may know, I returned from an extended holiday and now find myself playing catch-up in some ways. I did accomplish a lot of research for a future series I’m plotting, as well as blog material. Yet this article jumpstarts my drive to get back into my WIP with determination and without fear.

    Thanks, well done. 🙂

    • @Jolyse so glad it helped! Welcome home.

      @Jess it’s tough when you’re working so many hours. Maybe you just have too much to do in the free time you have and not that you aren’t organized enough. Keep plugging away. Maybe let go of a couple things so it’s more manageable?

  2. I need to hear this advice. I’m the totally the one that piles things up until my day off and then doesn’t get to it all. I’m getting better, but I appreciate hearing this advice again. I do make the to do lists, I need to get better with the time management piece. Thanks for the help, Gary, and welcome to LLC!

  3. Pingback: Your Health! « Kate Wood's Blog

  4. Marcia, Thank you so much for moderating the comments and for being such a fabulous host. I could learn a thing or two from you! Thanks for your patience with all the emails and the file formatting issues. You run an awesome club, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.

    • Thank you for the lovely compliments. It was no trouble at all. You did an amazing job – excellently written post and followed all the guidelines. A little formatting snag is no big deal. We are so glad you’re with us!

  5. Wonderful premiere LLC post, Gary! I am sometimes guilty of defeating myself with procrastination and negative thoughts, and other times I keep ahead of myself with the same types of thinking and structured activity you talk about here. I am a particularly firm believer in celebrating small steps towards a larger goal – celebrating how far you’ve come recharges you for the rest of the long journey!

  6. It cracks me up. One might get the idea that all us LLCers get together and decide on a theme for a given LLC Friday. Somehow, our topics usually group around a theme even though none know what everyone else is writing. This time it’s fear/procrastination. Maybe I shouldn’t leak the truth about how we write these. LOL

    Procrastination is a big demon of mine. I have to be on guard for it. Just when I think I’ve licked it, it sneaks up and bites me on the bum. Gary, you’re so right about the feeling of a big commitment. Instead, we can break it down into smaller goals. Do whatever we can at the moment. It all adds up. Fabulous post!

      • I’m glad you liked the post, Sonia. It certainly makes me feel a little better to know that there are others in the same boat. I always had a sneaking suspicion that I was one of the worst offenders. But now I’m beginning to think I’m right in the middle of the pack. It’s certainly nothing to brag out, but we have to take comfort in the little things.

    • I’m glad you liked the post, Sonia. It certainly makes me feel a little better to know that there are others in the same boat. I always had a sneaking suspicion that I was one of the worst offenders. But now I’m beginning to think I’m right in the middle of the pack. It’s certainly nothing to brag out, but we have to take comfort in the little things.

  7. From a master procrastinator, who knows better – thanks for the well-thought-out definitions. I find that if I can define something precisely, I have a basis on which to tackle the problem. If it’s lost in a maze of confusion and apathy, I seem to procrastinate until it has become old news and not worth finishing (my excuse).

  8. Finally an approach to procrastination that promises to work for me! Thank you Marcia for having Gary Gauthier on your blog, and thank you Gary Gauthier, for your practical, believable, step by step suggestions to deal with procrastination. I have decided to “go underground” to accomplish deadlines, but the word “procrastination” caught my eye, for one more look at blogs. So glad I checked!

  9. I really agree with being proud of the small accomplishment. Often we think we’re getting nowhere we get frustrated and procrastinate more, but in reality there are usually small markers of progress happening. We just have to acknowledge them.

  10. Wonderful suggestions on overcoming procrastination. I absolutely find if I take a large task and break it down into smaller pieces and then priorities, the overwhelmingness of it fades away and I actually get things done!
    Fabulous post!

  11. This is a fantastic post! It’s so easy to let your goals get lost in the empty universe of “someday” when that someday could come much more easily through working everyday. Glad to have you around Gary!

  12. Pingback: Defeating the Procrastination Bug | Gary Gauthier

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