The Only Way You Can Stop Procrastinating

In Copywriting, Writing Tips
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A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.“
-Hunter S. Thompson

I had all the focus of a teenage boy at a Grand Theft Auto convention, sponsored by Red Bull.

Just to give you a little taste of my failure and procrastination, here are all the things I did when trying to write a post for today. Keep in mind, these are the things I did after sitting down at my computer with a strong cup of tea, dog at my feet, perfect music picked out, Evernote primed and ready, and my Spicoli Vans firmly on my feet. All levels of inspiration hit dead center.

I wrote for full three minutes, then the mayhem began. Here is a running diary of my failure.

  • Washed my kid’s sheets
  • 
Gave Rocco a dog biscuit. Actually, I threw it to him from 15 feet and he caught it in the air — well over his head.
  • Changed my music. Sometimes you just need some Billy Squire.
  • Started thinking about the Simpson’s and then Googled “Milhouse’s middle name.” I had to know (for no reason at all) if he had a middle name.
  • Texted my son to share the incredible news that Milhouse’s middle name is “Moussolini.” How awesome is that? (Full name: Milhouse Moussolini Van Houten. The genius writing of the Simpson’s never ceases to amaze me).
  • Changed my music to something a little more “inspirational.” Tough to write to Billy Squire.

Wrote for another five minutes.

  • Texted lifelong buddy, asking if he still holds a track record at our old middle school
. He does.
  • Checked work email (for 20 minutes)
.
  • Looked at how much (or little) I’ve actually put on the page.
  • Hung my head.
  • 
Stretched.
  • 
Started a different article about content plans, 
Decided it was time for a snack.
  • Bypassed the first choice of carrots for Spicy Nacho Doritos. Convinced myself that four cheat days instead of one was fine.
  • Read an article about dust mites, immediately washed my comforter and blankets in water hot enough to technically be considered lava.
  • Started yet another article: How to get off your ass.
 Got off my ass and poured a tumbler of red wine.
  • Checked LinkedIn
. Endorsed four people
.
  • Checked Facebook. 
Wondered who four out of the five friends were celebrating birthdays this week. Never seen them before.

There’s more. A lot more. But you get the picture.

And while that post didn’t get done, this piece ends up being much a more important message. I can write about procrastinating or feeling crappy about my work or that I just suck, or I can show you. Resistance and procrastination hits everyone and usually at the worst time. Sound familiar? Do you know what would have helped me, and the only thing that cures procrastination?

A deadline. Deadlines cure all in writing.

Knowing your career, reputation and the product of your customer are at stake is a sobering reality. I don’t care if you write like David Foster Wallace; miss deadlines the only thing you’ll be writing the rest of your life are funny emails to your college friends.

Deadlines force discipline, quick decision making and being able to work under such a constraint will ultimately separate a pro from an amateur. I don’t miss deadlines. It was drilled into me when writing for newspapers back when I started and has followed me to this day. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always carry over when you’re not working in an editorial environment. When working a content job in a corporate environment it’s insanely frustrating when others blow off deadlines.  My first reaction is always, “I didn’t even know that was an option.” Because it isn’t.

Even if you’re working by yourself with no deadlines or constrictions placed on you by others, create your own. It’s how to move forward and the only cure for procrastination … and resistance in general. Well, I’m wrapping this up because I have a deadline on another piece I’m working on.

And missing it isn’t an option.

 

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