Beating procrastination for good. Ambitious, right? Absolutely but if we are aiming to become international bestsellers, ambition is something we need heaps of.
Anxiety can be productivity’s worst enemy, on account of the flitting thoughts reminding us every two minutes that we haven’t done this or we haven’t done that. As ever, in order to placate our own thoughts, we Anxious Authors stop what we’re doing to address them and by the time the day is over we are no closer to finishing what we set out to do.
Personally, I’ve found that my anxiety messes with my focus in really trivial ways. Like when I’ve seen a TV show earlier in the day and my brain flashes back to the cool bits and ends up replaying the whole show back just for fun. I don’t know if procrastination is somehow worse in Anxious Authors but some days, it certainly feels that way.
The good news is, all is not lost. There are ways that even the most Anxious Authors can beat procrastination with a few actions that can be turned into daily habits. It’s no easy task, that much is certain, but once we put these behaviours into action and stick to them religiously, any Anxious Author stands a chance at truly beating procrastination.
1. Read in the mornings.
This is a life hack I wished I’d learned years ago.
I used to read whenever I felt like it or needed to relax but when I started reading in the mornings, my skyrocketing productivity blew me away. If you’ve ever lived in an apartment that doesn’t so much as have its own kitchen, let alone its own dining room, you’ll know that you just end up watching TV over breakfast. Doing this is an absolute focus-killer.
Now, every morning, me and my husband sit on the windowsill of our tiny apartment, drink our coffee and read. Whatever the biochemistry behind it all is, it works a treat. We’re both able to focus for a lot longer in the mornings (until the video games come calling!)
2. Set micro-deadlines.
If, like me, you have the attention span of a goldfish when it comes to work, then setting the task of “working for three hours” isn’t going to result in much work getting done at all. Let alone for three hours. A chunk of time that long turns into a cesspool of procrastination: checking Facebook every five minutes and contemplating whether or not we need another cup of tea.
Time for another life hack.
The solution is giving ourselves small deadlines. Fifteen minutes to do this task, thirty minutes to do that task. If we only need to keep focus for short periods of time, we are far less likely to get distracted. Cut the big tasks up into small ones and take breaks in between to let our brains do their crazy, disorganised thing for a few minutes. Hey, we’ve got to let it off the leash sometime!
3. Ramp up the instrumental music.
Lyrics are thoroughly distracting. They want you to dance with them and sing along with them. They are the tipsy extrovert friend that burst through your front door on a Saturday night and drag you out to the club. Sure, you have a great time but you got literally nothing done and now it’s 3am and you still haven’t written anything.
All right, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration but they are super distracting.
Choose your mellowest playlist to really focus, maybe something with some epic strings or the soundtrack to Pirates of the Carribean if you’re writing a light-hearted action scene. If you’re stuck for lyric-less playlists, I’ve got a whole list of great playlists to work to in this Anxious Author article: 5 Best Playlists to Help with Focus.
4. Get ALL the social media blocking apps.
OK, maybe just one will do.
Social media blocking apps are the best way to stop us habitually checking our profiles and if that isn’t the biggest thing standing in the way of productivity, I don’t know what is. It feels uncomfortable to start with but once we acclimatise to not having access to our social media, we become infinitely more productive.
Scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is an endless task, we’re never satisfied and unless we put barriers between ourselves and these platforms. They sound like the enemy but they’re not, they’re just a hardcore distraction that needs to take a back seat when we’re working.
I’ve found a solid list of social media blocking apps to choose from that you can check out here – hopefully you’ll find one that’s useful!
Thanks for reading!