The Ultimate Guide to Procrastination

These days, I’m meeting my writing goals, but it wasn’t always so. You see, I’m a procrastinator at heart and when the writing gets tough, I go do something else.

1. I loathe shopping for clothes and avoid it until my slippers are in tatters and my t-shirts are frayed at the edges. As long as I’m writing, who cares? But at the first sign of a stubborn scene, I head for the stores and Shop-Till-I-Drop.

To prevent this escape, put all debit cards, credit cards, and cash in a glass of water and stick it in the freezer. If you chose to shop instead of write, you’ll have to watch the ice melt before you can access your cards or soggy cash. This may take hours. In fact, if you use a big enough glass, it could take all day. Before the day is up, you’ll be bored by the melting ice and dying to get back to that stubborn scene.

2. Have you ever struggled with a messy first draft, found yourself mesmerized by the dust particles floating in the sunshine, and discovered it’s the perfect time to dust, vacuum, and wash everything in the house? You even have the energy to move all the furniture so you don’t leave a single speck of dust behind. And by the time you’re done, you’re delighted with your dust free house and too tired to resume work on your manuscript.

Except…the next morning, you sit down in front of the computer, glance out the window, and notice those dust particles are STILL floating in the air.

Next time you get the urge to banish the dust from your house, save yourself the back breaking work of moving furniture and keep your butt on your chair. If you must, stare at those dust particles. Watch how they dance in the sunshine streaming through your dirty window. Then ignore them because let’s face it. Dust particles win the housekeeping war every single time. In the long run, you’ll be further ahead if you tackle the messy first draft instead of the mess in your house.

Now, let me tell you about the ULTIMATE PROCRASTINATOR INHIBITOR, my new secret weapon to keep my butt on chair and my fingers moving across the keyboard.

I’ve started goal setting with my eldest son. It turns out the overwhelming guilt of motherhood helps me produce words because I know if I slack off, my poor example gives my son permission to slack, too. Simple, isn’t it?

So what are your favorite procrastination techniques? And how do you keep yourself from procrastinating in the first place?

You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and visit my website.

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About Sheila Seabrook

Author of Single Title Romantic Comedy and Women's Fiction

Posted on June 13, 2012, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. I use the excuse that I have to check my e-mails every five minutes because I might have received a blog post I want to comment on or HEY, I might have heard back from an agent! I try to force myself to write until I’ve finished a chapter and then give myself the “treat” of checking e-mails and Facebook, etc…

    • Checking emails every five minutes is one of THE hardest habit to break, isn’t it, Patti. Finishing a chapter definitely deserves a reward and an online break sounds perfect. 🙂

  2. This is too funny because I was in procrastination land yesterday. Everyone in my house was gone all day. The perfect time to write, right? Wrong! I was stuck and what did I do? I entered the the horror house (the diva’s room) and began cleaning out drawers. Good news, I found all the missing rolls of tape I’d been looking for. Bad news, I got nothing written. I did, however, keep a note pad next to me so every time I thought of something good for my story, I wrote it down. At least I was semi-productive. 🙂

    My kids are keeping me accountable, though. Each night at dinner I have to submit my word count for the day. No chocolate if I don’t get at least 500 words. Of course, after cleaning my daughter’s room, I know where the chocolate is hidden. 😉

    • At least you can think about your story while you’re doing something else, Tracy. I’m so one-track-minded that I don’t do that. I love that your kids are keeping you on track, but don’t sneak too much of their hidden stash or they’ll notice it and hide it somewhere else. 🙂

  3. Love the credit card scene, Shelia! As for me, procastination isn’t a big issue–it’s remembering half the things I half to do, when I have to do them! 🙂

    • I started keeping daily lists, Dianne. It’s the only way I can ensure I do everything that needs doing. However, it’s taken me a while to get in the habit of doing the most important things first — like writing! — and leave the lesser important things — like dusting! — till later or never. 🙂

  4. Coleen Patrick

    I write a to-do list before I go to sleep at night and highlight what must be done before I’m allowed to go on the internet. 🙂 If I don’t write that list, then I usually start my day thinking it’s ok to get on the internet . . .just for a minute . . . and then oh well.

    • Oh, great idea, Coleen. I do my to do list in the morning, but usually glance through email before I start writing. And then two hours later … well, you get the drift. I love your idea of highlighting the important to-do stuff first! 🙂

  5. Theresa Krebs

    Love this post, Sheila. I’ve only begun reading downloaded books on the i-pad hubby gave me for Xmas 2011, so I have an extreeeemely valid reason for putting off the other stuff. I need majorly to catch up on the 6 month backlog! ;P
    ps. excuse the grammar!

    • You’re hooked now, Theresa. I read on my iPad, too, but then I discovered I could download an app for solitaire and Netflix. Lol! So many distractions. 🙂

  6. I work full time, so I have a weird schedule. I get on the internet as soon as I get up, do ‘work’ stuff there and then read email. I forward specific blogs to read during a break at work to my phone. and see if there’s anything particular that came up overnight. then it’s eat, shower etc etc and off to work. I try to get to those blogs during the day, but somedays are ot so good…. then home. stretch, and play with my pooches, eat and then internet again. I find I can’t write until I’ve cleared my mind from the day job. and in truth, I’m having trouble concentrating on writing after work – at any time. I seem to be my most productive on the weekends. which really bites into productivity.

    lol But i rarely leave the house in the evening – so shopping is not a risk.

  7. Sheila, I must hate clothes shopping more than you do because it never occurs to me to do it instead of getting in the page count. I find it hard to ignore dust bunnies that roll across my the floor though, and I seem to hear weeds growing in my flower beds. Too often, I put aside the writing to clean or weed.

  8. Reading and commenting on blogs – the ultimate procrastinator time sucker. I argue it’s writing related because it may some day help advance my career, but we all know there won’t be a career if there’s not finished first draft.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • That’s something I struggle with, too, Patricia, and for the most part, I contain the urge to blog hop until the evening. But then I feel like I’m missing out on so much fun. Ah, the desire to be everywhere at once. 🙂

  9. Sheila, You’ve just
    about covered all the
    methods one can do or
    not do. I have tried
    many different methods.
    Some worked others failed.

    Then I told a friend I
    wanted to get an oven timer
    to limit my time on the
    net. The next time we
    met at B&N for coffee
    she presented me with an
    oven timer.

    It might be crude, but
    it works 🙂

    • Florence, there’s nothing better than an annoying alarm to make one stop doing something. I occasionally remember to set my oven timer so that I get up and more around once in a while. I’ve never tried it for limiting my time on the Internet. Good idea. 🙂

  10. My house is always cleanest when I’m on a writing deadline.

    • Too funny, PJ. My house was always cleanest when my husband ticked me off. Needless to say, sometimes he deliberately annoyed me with hopes it might get me to pick up the vacuum. 🙂

  11. I think I’m better at procrastinating than you are, Sheila. As I was reading your post (which is great, by the way), all I could think is…I’d just run hot water over the ice to free my credit card and cash. When I want to procrastinate, I’m very determined to do it. 🙂

    My favorite form? Mah Jongg Dark 3D. If I seriously don’t want to write, forget anything productive. I can play that stupid game until my hand hurts.

  12. I’ve heard you could just give names to the dust bunnies…

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