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Don't Put Off Until Tomorrow...Battling Procrastination



Susanne here, and lately, I have been stuck in the Procrastination Swamp.

We've all been there (I assume). Sometimes we get overwhelmed by the tasks facing us and we shut down; sometimes we get tired and need a break; sometimes we're distracted; and sometimes we just lack energy.

Yet deadlines don't care much why we procrastinate, do they? They must be met.
It's not you, it's me.
The past few weeks, we had a house issue that robbed my writing time, shopping time, energy, and sleep. The mini cleaning/simplifying projects I've intended to do each day? Pfft. Finishing a proposal? Didn't get done. Dusting? Puh-lease. They'll all have to wait until tomorrow...

When things like this happen, an unfortunate cycle begins. I lost my groove, and had a hard time regaining it even when my house issue was under control. And when I lose my groove, I tend to procrastinate. AKA hide, because I feel so behind and the pile of tasks is so large, I am afraid of it.

Here are six tips I've found to help confront procrastination, and I'm going to put them into place this week:
  1. Divide your deadline into chunks. One big huge deadline can be overwhelming to look at, like, say, writing an entire novel or cleaning out the closet. Break up your deadline. For me, a chunk could be a chapter, or an editing project, or cleaning off a single shelf on the book case or organizing one drawer, not the whole desk.
  2. Create a timeline for each specific deadline you've made. Whether it's writing 2000 words in a day, vacuuming the bedrooms, or going through recipes for make-ahead meals, determine how long each task should/will take based on experience and go from there. 
  3. Identify your distractions and don't indulge. This takes willpower! What lures you away from your deadline? Making graphics or memes can be one of mine (ahem: promotion, which is an important part of a writer's life, won't matter if there's no book to promote). 
  4. Reward yourself when each deadline is met, big or little. Indulge in one of your distractions. Or chocolate.
  5. Get an accountability partner. It's quite embarrassing to tell someone you plan to write a thousand words and then later, when they ask how it went, telling them you didn't get to it. That's why telling people can be a good motivator! I've tried all kinds of systems, and they are all helpful. Try scheduling time with a buddy for a writing sprint (I've done this with people I've never met in person, but we engage on Facebook Messenger). Post it on social media so you can report how it went. Anything that gets you moving!
  6. Just do it (thanks, Nike). You really will feel better once you start. It will be easier tomorrow. 


How about you? What tips do you have for me?

***

Susanne Dietze is the ECPA-bestselling author of historical romances. She also recently adopted a cat, which has added to her procrastination. You can learn more about her books at www.susannedietze.com

Comments

  1. I do this!

    When I start a book, I figure out how many words I need to write per weekday (leaving the weekends open for catching up if need be). Then I make a calendar that shows each writing day and what my word count needs to be by that day. Then, on each day, I break up that word count into one-hundred-word segments. Anybody can write a hundred words, right? Then, as I get to each hundred, I mark it off my list. If I don't let myself get distracted (some days I do), I can rip through my quota pretty nicely and even have time to watch hockey. Yay me! :D

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    1. Your productivity amazes and inspires me. I am blown away by your amazing stories! Great tips...thank you! I'm going to give that "100 words" thing a try!

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  2. so clearly, Susie has been creating graphics instead of writing! ha ha.

    But hey, a little slow time is okay and you deserve it after that whirlwind of writing the last two years! WOW.

    I'm in the swamp with you right now. It would be difficult to find the time to write this week, but I could if I REALLY WANTED TO. sigh.

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    1. I confess Photo Funia is really addicting. I love that graphic with the book in a big frame! So very fun.

      Sister, let's hold hands and pull each other through this swamp! We can do it!

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  3. So I haven't been in a slump, but I haven't been consistently writing either. The wind was sucked out of my sails when Love Inspired Historical announced the line closing and since my agent had recently retired, I turned to my To Do list to take my mind off my writing career.

    I've accomplished LOTS on the personal side. No fresh writing, although I've been editing and rewriting in small batches and worked on promotional stuff.

    Like Susie, I love creating the promotional graphics.

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    1. Anita, I agree with you about the closure of LIH. It was a blow and I'm still not sure what my writing future holds, but I'm trying new things. We'll see! But it's easy to get distracted.

      I'm so glad you're accomplishing a lot of other things! It does indeed feel good. I'm trying to get rid of something every day: clean out a drawer, clear off a shelf for cleaning (and then I try to find something I don't use/want), etc.

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