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.