Procrastination is like a sleep paralysis demon that weighs heavy on the chest, with no reprieve or room to breathe.
To me, procrastination is the sordid love child of perfectionism and imposter syndrome; two phenomena that while on the surface sound like positive traits, are enemies of progress and architects of our own downfall.
Over time, I’ve come to accept that despite being creative, I have a type A personality; meaning that I can be competitive, can exercise incredible self-control, am achievement-oriented, well organised and can err on the side of neurotic (lolz). With that being said, I’ve never procrastinated more in my life than in the last 18 months – not even when I was studying for my Law exams at Uni. Lockdown really robbed me of my creativity, and I’ve been resentful ever since. Over the last year or so, I’ve been trying to claw back a sense of normality when it comes to my work, which as a freelancer, can be difficult when you don’t have standard working hours.
Research suggests that people who procrastinate experience higher levels of stress than people who don’t, something that only accumulates when you add in doom scrolling and social media – a place where everyone routinely highlights their successes and exciting announcements. Something I’ve also been guilty of doing, to be honest!
I’ve been *working* on a project that I thought would take mere months (by working I mean I’ve been staring at a blank workspace with no progress lmao), however, 18 months later I’m still in exactly the same position, making minimal progress, and I have absolutely HATED myself for it as I know I am so much better than this. I’ve been spending the last few months trying to take it easy on myself and not beat myself up too badly, but as a perfectionist, I’ve found that I tend to sometimes procrastinate on the things I care about the most, due to fear of failure or of the end result not being as good as I anticipated. Why are we like this?
It got to a point where I was finding it incredibly difficult to keep track of my everyday tasks, so I decided to take action and take steps to help curb this annoying parasite.
Turning off notifications
As a child/teenager, I LIVED for copying and composing the latest ringtones on my Nokia 3310. Those were the days aye? Now? The slightest notification buzz sets me on edge. My phone has been in silent mode for the last three years, and I’ve turned off all social media ring notifications. The fewer distractions from my phone, the more I can get work done.
Lists lists lists!
I’m big on making lists, even for the most mundane of tasks. At the end of the day, I feel as if I’ve achieved something whenever I tick something off the list, even if it’s just brushing my teeth. Every morning, I write down a list of every single thing I need to do for that day. When it comes to working, I break the work up into smaller, more manageable tasks for me to complete – more for me to tick off at the end of the day.
Setting a deadline. Yes, really.
So for a lot of people, the prospect of a deadline incites fear in a lot of people which can lead to procrastinating. For me, it’s the complete inverse; I LOVE deadlines. I love to have time limits and routines in order to have some kind of established order, which soothes my super-organised heart. I cannot work without having some kind of routine, otherwise, I know I’ll never get to it, so now I tend to set deadlines for things even if I haven’t been given one by clients or publications.
These are just some of the things I do to keep myself motivated while working on the projects I’ve been trying to avoid. I also try and picture the end result, and that tends to kick me into gear also. Confidence is also a big factor in eliminating procrastination too. We avoid it because we don’t have the confidence to think we can finish the task – or finish the task well. Building up our self-esteem in this area is super important, believing that we are capable and worthy of finishing the tasks can, in turn, motivate us to get across that finish line.
There are still days when the good old imposter syndrome rears its ugly head and ceases my productivity for the day, but I’m grateful that those days are becoming few and far between.
*switches on Disney Plus*