I’ll be completely honest – I haven’t quite figured out yet how to not procrastinate effectively and 100% of the time. As a freelance writer that works from home and also has a 4-year-old at home, I am quite behind in that department. Most of my days end up starting with good intentions and ending with hurried and frantic work. It’s not that I haven’t tried, believe me I really have, but I can’t seem to find anything that will keep me on track always.
Some things work for a while, some things work for one particular event or type of work. So, no, this is not a post about all the different ways I have found to help you as a writer from procrastinating. You can find plenty of those by just Googling. I guess you could say that this is more of me just venting. It seems like there’s just nothing out there that will keep my child from interrupting me with questions or hugs or another request for snacks.
My work is important to me and I feel that I’m really doing something that makes me happy and feel productive outside of my home. That being said, I would like to keep working and do it in a way that doesn’t stress me out and create frantic panic two days before my work is due because I only have a quarter of it done. So, here’ some ways that I’ve found to NOT be effective at keeping me from procrastinating. And some solutions.
I love making lists. Maybe it’s just another form of writing for me, but I do feel that it has kept me organized, at least. Keeping me on track and from procrastinating? Not so much. Sure, I wish I could tick off everything that I write down for that day to do, but more often than not, I end up with at least one or two things left over on the list.
Erase the last two things from my to-do list. Check and check.
Block Out Distractions
Uhm, do you guys have a 4-year-old? That doesn’t work. Short of literary taking him somewhere else or duct-taping him to the couch, he will always interrupt me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. He needs to know that his mother is there for him and I absolutely adore his random hugs and eyes-squeezed-shut smiles just because. I sometimes put music on to help me focus but that completely breaks down as a method when I see him dancing.
Work in bursts of ten minutes and then take a dancing break with my son.
Set Deadlines For Yourself Before The Actual Deadlines
This almost worked for me. In fact, it was so successful for a while that I also started writing down when my bills were due a few days before the actual due date to give myself time for payments. The problem was that I knew those weren’t the actual due dates and after a while I didn’t stick to my due dates as much because I knew I had some leeway.
Stop panicking about the fake due date and feel good about myself when I completed the project two days after the fake due date but one day before the real due date. Phew.
Don’t Multitask To Stay Focused
This one really doesn’t work for working moms. I mean, really? There’s only 24 hours in one day, people. If I only did one thing at a time, I would need at least 36 hours in one day to get through my to-do list. I tried this a few times and ended looking up from my work three hours later to find a pillow fort built in my living room with a giggling 4-year-old in the middle of it, eating M&Ms and buying apps on my phone. The rest of the house wasn’t much better. And dinner ended up being Chinese take-out.
Multitasking is my friend. I couldn’t get enough done without it and I’m certainly not going to abandon the only friend that has stayed constant for me from middle school.
I know there’s many writers out there that feel like they don’t have enough time for everything. Writer’s block doesn’t help either and then you lose hours of time just staring at the screen or writing the same paragraph over and over because it just doesn’t sound right. I probably will get told that I shouldn’t have so much on my plate, but I like my plate just the way it is. It’s a Thanksgiving plate.
You can’t have the plate without the turkey or the mashed potatoes or the veggies or the gravy. It just isn’t a complete plate anymore. That’s how my life is. I need everything, even if it’s spilling over a bit and it looks chaotic and you don’t know what you should eat first. Procrastination will likely always be a part of that plate for many different reasons. At this point, I feel like that’s going to be OK. I haven’t missed a deadline yet and the coffee keeps me going the next morning after a long night.