Why We Procrastinate and How to Stop
by Owen Banner
There are two reasons why we procrastinate: either we are scared of failure or we are just really, really comfortable where we are. When it comes to quitting the job we hate or breaking up with the boyfriend that’s not good for us, we put it off because we are afraid that it’s the best we can get, and because we’re comfortable. As bad as our situation is, at least its a sure thing. “What if I break up with this guy and never find another boyfriend again?” We ask ourselves, or, “what if no one else wants to hire me?”
Then there are those things that we don’t try because we’re afraid that we’ll fail. We don’t try anything new in our marriage or in our parenting, because we’re scared of opening up and being rejected, or that it’ll be a stupid idea. We don’t sit down to write that novel or sign the contract to start our own bakery, because we’re scared we’re not good enough. It’s what keeps us dreaming about it, but always saying “tomorrow” when we have the opportunity to actually put work into that dream.
And then there’s comfort. Comfort is actually the less scientific term for the word “intertia”. Intertia is the tendency of an object (or person) to just keep doing the same thing over and over again, whether it’s moving or sitting still. Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion was that things resist change. If they are moving, they are going to keep going on the same path at the same pace. If they are sitting still, they are going to stay there, until force is applied that is greater than that inertia. So, we don’t start on that exercise program, decide to have that talk, start on that term paper, or crack open War and Peace, because it’s going to require some work.
Well, that’s great information, but now what? The good news is that we can actually do something about both the fear of failure and our tendency towards inertia. Here’s a few things that help me:
- Get visual: Create a collage, print out a poster, set your desktop background to keep your vision in front of you. Right now, I have a collage of the major plot points in my next novel posted above my desk.
- Break big projects into small ones: I don’t sit down to write a novel. I sit down to write a scene. All I need to do is focus on the action and the dialogue that is happening at that moment between the few characters involved in that scene. Publishing has been the same= start a blog, start a twitter account, join Goodreads, make five friends today, comment on three forums, etc.
- Put it on a calendar: If it doesn’t get planned, it won’t get done. To make sure that you get it done, put it first thing in the morning.
- Make friends with people who have the same goal as you: That shared value will inspire you and keep you accountable.
- Keep it simple: Jesus said it best, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’.” If you commit to doing it, do it. If you commit to not doing it, don’t do it. No more maybes, unless you’re Carly Rae Jepsen.
- Make the cut: Understand that saying “yes” to one thing means saying “no” to that other thing. Evaluate, prioritize, cut it out.
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – R