Procrastination. Resistance. Laziness.
These are the adversaries I fight against almost every morning. I get up early, grab my coffee, and sit down at my computer to write. I assure myself that I have discipline because I’m up early. Don’t you agree?
But then Resistance rears his ugly head by getting me distracted from writing. The inbox is full, so I go through it to reduce the distraction, but not completely, debate on paying some bills, go through old mail. Basically, I start and stop a bunch of things, none of which is urgent and none of which involves writing.
Ok, back to writing. I open my browser, since I might need to look something up online, I’m tempted to check Facebook, just for a minute. You do it too, don’t you? Ten minutes later, I shake off that feeling of lethargy and refocus on my document. After all, I’m disciplined and ready to write.
I hear a little voice wondering if any urgent emails came in during the night – oh, right, I need to just make sure. So I launch Outlook and take a peek. Then I get a refill on my coffee.
There has been plenty written on discipline and combating procrastination and what author Steven Pressfield calls “Resistance” (with a capital “R”) in his books The War of Art and Turning Pro. Unfortunately, there is not a long-term fix, as each day brings a new battle.
Writing is work, and I can’t wait on some fluffy perfect stimulus or flash of insight. Writing is hard work, plain and simple. There are cues and habits I can develop, but it all boils down to the fact that I have to show up and do it. Every day. No exceptions.
And whether you work at writing or another kind of project, I have found a few tricks that help me stay focused:
- Set a goal – whether that is to write a certain number of words or to complete a specific portion of a project.
- Remove distractions – you’ve heard this before, but turn off email notifications, disable your Twitter or Facebook alerts, and close the door.
- Don’t kick yourself – if you do get sidetracked, don’t berate yourself. Just refocus and try again.
- Do it again – once you have hunkered down and accomplished your goal, set another goal and keep moving forward (of course, maybe celebrate a little bit first…)
How do you combat these “enemies” of productivity?