Friday, April 13, 2012

Procrastination Nation

Hello, my name is Julie, and I’m a procrastinator.

I’ve blogged about it in the past. It’s something that I struggle with often. I have a short attention span, which isn’t helpful when you’re writing novels.

In college, I was great at cramming for a test all night the night before and doing okay. Now that I’m a mom to a toddler and have a full-time job, if I procrastinate, I’m not going to get it done. I was doing all of my writing at night after the little guy went to bed, but now that it’s light outside longer, he stays up until 9:00pm. I get up at 5:15am. That means I either don’t have much time for writing or I don’t get enough sleep.

It has forced me to teach myself to stop procrastinating and work on my writing during the small spaces of time I have available throughout the day. Here are some of the tricks I use to get things done:

1. I use a timer. A kitchen timer would work, but I use the timer on my iphone. There are also online timers you can find through a search on google. I choose the project I want to work on, set the timer for 15 minutes and commit to not getting off task until the timer is signaling that time is up. Usually, I end up working much longer than 15 minutes, but the short amount of time keeps me from making any excuses.

2. When I sit down at my computer, I always start with 15 minutes of writing or editing (or if I’m at work, I start with an important project.) If I let myself ease into writing by checking blogs or my email, I can lose half an hour without even noticing. Then when I do start writing, I’m still thinking about everything I’ve just seen on the web. If I start with writing, I allow myself to do whatever I want after the time is up, but I find that I usually want to keep writing.

3. I track how much time I’ve actually spent writing. But there’s a catch. I can only record the time if it is more than 15 minutes of continuous work. I don’t stop and restart the timer to go get a cup of coffee or text someone on my phone. If that happens, I have to start my time over again. It’s motivation to focus on the task at hand.

4. In the morning, I write down a list of three things I want to accomplish that day. I also have a longer, master to do list so I won’t forget all the things I want to do over the next week, month, year, but my list of three is what I’m going to focus on that day. The things on my list of three must be small and specific. For example:
• Send a chapter to my critique group.
• Write and post today’s blog.
• 30 minutes of editing on my YA.
Hopefully, I’ll get more done than that through the day, but the list of three keeps my main priorities top of mind.

Now that I've shared my steps for avoiding procrastination, I better get back to work!

I'd love to hear how you fight the inner procrastinator.


  1. You know what I learned yesterday, I procrastinate with cleaning and anything else that is painful (anything math related). I have to force myself to do those things or they'd never get done.
    ~ Wendy

  2. I procrastinate the hard stuff. But I wouldn't say I'm a procrastinator because I HATE to be rushed. Hate, hate, hate! So maybe I don't procrastinate hard stuff, I just save it for last. :)

    I admit, I sort of like it when you procrastinate b/c we chat more! LOL

  3. I procrastinate on cleaning or like doing the taxes...which I finally got together to take to the account later today. I don't know why I do it because when I'm done, I always say, "why did I wait so long?"

    Just happens.

  4. There are just some tasks that are not fun to do, and certainly not a Little Princess job like cleaning the bathroom. (Top of today's to do list)

  5. These are great tips! I'm not much of a procrastinator, but lately I've felt totally unmotivated to do any of my writing related stuff. Maybe I should just start setting a timer for 15 minutes! :-)

  6. I procrastinate. My problem lies in poor time management. I made myself go on a strict schedule during the weekdays so that I'm more productive.

  7. I'm a procrastinator too...with things I don't want to do. Cleaning comes to mind. :) I love your timer/reward trick. I might try that one!

  8. I don't think I'm much of a procrastinator, that's my husband's job. My problem is on the opposite end of the scale. I'm the "if you want it done yesterday, give it to me, micro manager type." I need help and a keeper. any takers?

  9. Hey Julie,

    I'm a bit of a procrastinator, too! Right now I'm so involved in a new book I writing that I've procrastinated sending chapters of my other book to my lovely critique partners! LOL. Will try to do that this week.

    And definitely cleaning toilets is a sure-fire way to make me procrastinate!

    Wanted to tell you that I recently finished Canyon Walls and I loved it!


  10. Whoa, these are awesome tips. I get so frustrated when I get to the end of a day and think, "What did I even do today?" Your second point is where I get stuck...I like to ease into writing with checking email/facebook/etc and like you said, suddenly half an hour is gone. I love the "three things I want to accomplish today" tip, too. So good!

  11. I procrastinate, too! I find that when I put things off, it's because I've lost steam or interest in some way. I have to find a way to get myself excited about the story again, usually by taking a break from it and then going back to the beginning and reading through it. That usually helps! Good luck with your writing!