Procrastination is something we’ve all struggled with and writers need to overcome on a daily basis. Sure you might have a schedule figured out that enables you to fit in your writing time and that is something you never put off, but when it comes time for other tasks: editing, marketing and selling your work you find yourself using delaying tactics. All of a sudden you desperately need to clean the oven, write that letter to your Aunt or ring that friend you haven’t caught up with for five weeks. Doing something difficult or new for the first time can flip us right back in procrastination mode.
Many authors tell themselves that they don’t have time for book marketing because they dread the thought of doing it. They know it is something they ‘should’ be doing but week after week marketing tasks remain at the bottom of their to-do list. So how can you turn that around and GSD (get shit done) when you'd rather be binging on Netflix series? It's about down to starving your distractions and feeding your focus and we have a fantastic almost-entirely-foolproof (yep, sometimes Game of Thrones really is too much of a distraction) 3 step technique for GSD, as follows:
- Do the hardest task first - This should be that job that you have been putting off or the work you know you should be doing but are reluctant to begin.
- Eliminate distractions – Switch off your phone, disconnect the internet and refuse to answer the door. Do whatever you have to in order to shut out the outside world.
- Set a time limit – Use a timer, we're big fans of the Tide app, to put a limit on your focus sessions. Don’t make these sessions too long, a good rule of thumb is anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes. During this time you should focus only on the task at hand. When the timer finishes take a break.
And there you have it. This simple little method is fantastic for getting in a state of flow and reducing any tendencies to multi-task or follow internet click-bait for hours at a time. It means focusing solely on the most important task at hand. You'll also find that after 30 minutes of working on a task you were dreading it's often not as bad as you originally thought.
If this technique is still not working for you, you may want to try these additional tips:
Reduce the time - If 30 minutes is too long try 15 minutes. If that is too much try 5. A little is often better than none at all and once you have begun you are more likely to continue. For a long time I told myself that I would write for an hour each day. I thought that would be an easy goal but the days came and went and I couldn’t seem to find a free hour to sit down and write. Eventually, I reduced my goal to 30 minutes a day. Suddenly I was writing every day and faster than ever before. Now I often write for longer than 30 minutes but I always do it in small segments with a break in between to maintain momentum.
Break large, demanding tasks down into smaller steps – Instead of feeling overwhelmed by a difficult task try separating it out into the steps involved then work on each of these for 30 minutes at a time.
Say goodbye to perfection – Don’t let your need for perfection hold you back. Focus on your big goals and stick to the time limits you have set for yourself. This is much like the technique of writing the first draft without editing.
Reward yourself – Treating yourself can be as simple as a cup of coffee on your break or a bubble bath at the end of the day. Take your breaks and get back to work when they are done.
Think of how satisfied you’ll feel afterward – This really is the ultimate reward of all. Now it’s time to stop reading this post and get back to work. Good luck!