We all procrastinate; we may procrastinate about different things but we all do it nevertheless. Usually, we procrastinate most when we are about to do something that we find challenging or when we are stuck in some way.
Procrastination usually takes the form of doing something that is unimportant or doing something mindless. If you procrastinate, you’ll know how painful and frustrating the behaviour is. One part of you wants to leap forward, the other part wants to play computer games, clean the spare room or watch tv. It’s as if there is some tug-of-war going on inside you.
So, how do you begin to overcome this particularly tricky conundrum and actually get yourself moving? In her book, The Seven Secrets of the Prolific: The definitive guide to overcoming procrastination, perfectionism and writer’s block, Hillary Rettig discusses why we procrastinate and how to resolve our negative habits.
Rettig describes the ‘prolific’ as people who have a way of moving past blocks that procrastinators or as she prefers to call them, ‘perfectionists’ cannot get past. While one character-type spends days or weeks getting past a particular roadblock the prolific find a way round in minutes.
To get beyond the roadblock, Rettig recommends three ‘productivity behaviours’:
- Show up when you are scheduled to show up.
- Do what you are supposed to do at the scheduled time.
- Do it uninterruptedly for a long period of time (with only a few short breaks).
For me, there is a stage before this can happen – and it is a solution Rettig refers to for the severely stuck writer – and that is simply turning up. It was a strategy I employed a few years ago when I was confused and overwhelmed to the point of total inertia.
I was so allergic to my office and my desk that in the end I simply set myself the task of going into the room and sitting at my desk, even if I didn’t do anything. This had a remarkable affect as I found it virtually impossible to sit at my desk in front of my computer and do nothing at all. In a matter of weeks I had eased myself from tortured soul to productive writer.
Now, if I feel a bit of procrastination coming on, I use Hillary Rettig’s Three Productivity Behaviours to get me moving, and it works like a charm.
I thoroughly recommend Hillary Rettig’s book as she thoroughly excavates the condition of procrastination without placing criticism or blame on the afflicted. Her solutions are straightforward and easy to implement so even the most reluctant will find ways to leave their recalcitrant alter ego behind and travel forward with their prolific self.
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