Monday, August 8, 2016

Motivation for Procrastinators

my actual motivational stones
I'm always on the lookout for motivational tools that I can get behind, something that can nudge me in the right direction without being a drill sergeant about it. I'd seen those pretty inspirational stones for sale before, but usually they cost more than I wanted to pay. So, when I found one at a thrift store for fifty cents (maybe even twenty-five) I picked it up. It was black and shiny and said "DREAM" in lovely white serif font. Now, I knew that a rock really couldn't inspire me that much... unless perhaps I kept it around my work area and looked at it all the time. So, I decided to set it in front of my keyboard and hope it would inspire me.

It was a lovely thought, but I didn't feel as inspired as I hoped I would. Eventually I realized a stone with the word "DREAM" on it, wasn't going to make me productive. I needed another word. I had to find another stone! I trolled Ebay (another wonderful way to spend a potentially-productive writing day) for such a stone, and eventually I found one. It was mottled white and said in no-nonsense depressed san-serif, "CREATE". This was it! I was sure that this stone, paired with my 'Dream' stone, would help me to finally see my goals through.

Guess what? It didn't. I still have those stones sitting in front of my keyboard, nudging at my conscious mind to DREAM and CREATE, but they mostly just make me feel guilty for not doing it.

This is a classic procrastination tactic, and I am a classic procrastinator. Did I really believe two stones would be all the catalyst I needed to launch into productive mode? No. Did I think it was more fun to search Ebay for more clutter I don't need than work on my current project? Yes. At least, at the time I did.

Procrastionation is an ugly, greedy, short-sighted mistress. It steals your time - time  you could be using to do the things you love. For me, the only way to beat procrastination is to remind myself on a regular basis what I really want and what I need to do to get there. The rest is about breaking down those To-Dos, and scheduling them, which I'm really bad at.

I seem to work best spontaneously. I spontaneously clean, spontaneously cook, spontaneously write. The key to getting myself to be productive a little more often is to psych myself up. Anything I want to do, when I think about it and how much I love it, or how great I'll feel after it's done, I become inspired to do it.

Here are the tips I've read that actually work for me:
  1. Encourage yourself. Remind yourself how fun whatever you want to accomplish is.
  2. Be passionate. If you aren't that into it, you're not going to want to do it. Find your passion for it, whatever it is. 
  3. Imagine the goal finished and how great it will look/feel/sound/taste. (good for chores)
  4. Break a big goal down into smaller tasks. Perspective makes all the difference.
  5. Give yourself a time limit/deadline. This helps especially when it's something you don't really want to do. If you know you only have to do it for _ hours, it's not so bad.
  6. Treat yourself. Give yourself an incentive to get the work done, and celebrate when you do. This might be going out with friends, writing a celebratory blog post, watching a tv show you love.
  7. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to accomplish your goal, or people trying to accomplish the same goal you are. This is the writing community, so you won't have to go far before you run into someone who's also writing a YA set in the civil war, or a contemporary romance set in a bakery.
  8. Dump the negativity. If someone - even a writer friend - makes you feel talentless, stupid, or doubtful of your skills, get away from that person. Accomplishing big goals is hard enough without naysayers trying to trip you up. 
  9. Start. Just do the thing. It isn't that big a deal. Really. 
  10. Repeat steps 1-8 and keep going. 

We are not stones, and the impulse of creativity/productivity is not inert. It is motion. It is fire, and it pulls and pushes and makes you very uncomfortable until you take action. So take action now. No amount of gentle, happy words telling you how great you are can beat that. Go to it!

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