Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Procrastination: Dump Old Myths and Discover a Fun Solution

By Rochelle Melander, @WriteNowCoach

Part of The Writer's Life Series

JH: Writers have a lot of "legitimate" ways of not working (I'm just doing research, honest!) Rochelle Melander busts a few myths about goofing off, and what we can do to get back to writing

Rochelle Melander is a speaker, professional certified coach and the author of 11 books for adults, including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) and Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity.

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Take it away Rochelle…

Do you struggle with procrastination?

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of writing a book. You’ve thought about the cover and imagined the content, but you can’t seem to write anything.

You know that you need to revise your book before you can sell it, but you’ve started a new book instead.

You need to approach bloggers about marketing your book, and you write the task on your to-do list every week, but you never do it.

Perhaps you think, I’ll do it when I:
  • have a big block of time
  • know more about the topic
  • feel inspired
  • received more education
  • am closer to the deadline

This is procrastination.

We delay the task we want to or need to do in favor of doing less important work.

(Here’s more on Planning for the Average Procrastinator)

People have many beliefs about why people procrastinate. Here are some of the common ones. Perhaps you’ve heard some of them from your friends, boss, or inner critic:

Belief: Procrastinators cannot manage their time. They’re lazy.

That’s a big, bad myth. People who procrastinate are practicing an avoidance strategy. And most procrastinators delay work in one or two areas of their life only, not all of them. They’re perfectly able to do the work in other areas of their lives.

Belief: All procrastination is bad

This is another myth. According to Tim Pychy, director of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University, “All procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination.” Sometimes delay can be helpful. You have more time to prepare. You are managing your schedule so that you work at the optimum time. Precrastinators sometimes finish a task too soon, before they’ve allowed the idea to fully develop.

(Here’s more on The Guilty Pleasures of Procrastination)

Belief: People work best under pressure.

Nope. No matter how many articles try to prove otherwise, no one works best under pressure. Working at the last minute means we rush to get the job done instead of doing a great job. Why? Because doing tasks under stress affects our working memory—that part of the brain that helps us look at all the information, figure out what’s most important, and focus on that. When we work under stress, we end up making more mistakes.  

Belief: Procrastination is a trait—you’re born with it.

Myth! Procrastination is learned behavior. It’s a coping mechanism or a habit we developed, often as children or teens, as a reaction to something that we experienced.

Procrastination is a habit we’ve used to:
  • avoid difficult feelings
  • get out of scary situations
  • avoid negative judgments

To overcome procrastination, it is important to connect with the feelings that are creating the block. If you struggle with procrastination, consider…
  • what stories are telling yourself?
  • what beliefs do you have?
  • are they true?

Once you’ve blasted through some of your negative beliefs, you will be better able to apply practical tools to break your procrastination habit.

(Here’s more on Put a Stop to Procrastination – Today!)

Fun Framing has helped many of my clients stop procrastinating and get stuff done. In the book Super Better, Jane McGonigal defines it like this, “Fun framing is what happens when you decide to do something for the pure pleasure, excitement, or enjoyment of it.”

The idea of fun framing came about when researchers Joseph Ferrari and Dianne M. Tice from DePaul University investigated why people procrastinate. The invited participants to take either a math test or play a math game.

All of the participants were given an hour to prepare by practicing the problems they’d tackle on their test or game. The people who were prepping to play a game were much less likely to procrastinate.  

What does this mean for you? Basically, you’re more likely to spend time doing the activities you think are fun and feel fun. So it’s helpful to create a “fun frame” around the activities you tend to procrastinate.

What might that look like?
  • Make a game out of the task—race against the clock or a friend.
  • Add a fun element. If you have a boring piece to edit or a tedious research task, play music while you work or do it in a fun place.
  • Invite a friend to work with you. Connect over FaceTime or Zoom and work together.
  • Treat yourself to a favorite cup of tea, something you wouldn’t ordinarily have every day.

In the end, it’s all about how you approach the task. If you can frame the activity as fun, you’ll be more likely to get it done…on time!

About Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity

Do you struggle to:
+Find time to write and create
+Ditch distractions
+Overcome self-doubt and fear
+Believe in your strengths
+Silence the inner critic
+Stop procrastinating and write
+Focus on your work

What if you could find a simple solution to every one of these challenges?

In this book, you’ll discover YOUR perfect solutions. In our guru-obsessed culture, it’s tempting to think that if we follow the routines of successful creatives, we’ll be just as prolific as they are. But when it comes to creative productivity, a pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all guide can’t help everyone. Each person has distinct needs and deserves a unique solution.

In Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination, and Increase Productivity, you’ll tackle quests to help you discover your ideal work rhythms, design a life that supports your productivity, and overcome any obstacle you face. Instead of playing someone else’s game, you get to design the game, create your own playbook, define the rewards, and reap them all! You’ll also adopt a secret identity, recruit allies, identify villains, and celebrate your epic wins. Because you’ll be using a gameful approach to shaping your creative life, taking on these quests won’t be a chore. You’ll relish investigating your life and playing with possibilities.

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