Given two choices, one that’s ridiculously fun and one that’s insanely boring, which would you choose?
In her book Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, Mignon Fogarty gives the best solution I’ve ever heard for dealing with procrastination.
If you’re going to procrastinate, force yourself to do something productive. Your choices are folding laundry or writing, not playing solitaire or writing.
As soon as I read this, I recalled a recent phone conversation I had with a broke friend who likes to spend her free time gambling.
Me: Where you at?
Friend: The casino.
Me: You won any money.
Friend: Girl, no.
Me: You really need to find something else to do.
Friend: Yeah, I need to go to church.
My friend isn’t giving church a fair chance at getting picked. If she really wants to stop gambling, a more reasonable alternative would’ve been inviting friends over for beer and barbecue.
As much as you may want to judge my friend for such a silly suggestion, how often do your actions match her words?
Instead of tackling some soul crushing task you’d rather avoid, you read gossip blogs, watch viral YouTube videos, and catch up on The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
You’re not going to flake out on your responsibilities. You’re going to deliver. You always do.
So why don’t you stop wasting time and get to work?
I wish I knew the magic words that would inspire you to act, that would encourage you to complete assignments well before their due date.
Time is peculiar in that, despite being infinite, eventually, you will run out of it. That simple truth is the only cure for procrastination. So when you’re battling a bad case of procrastination-itis, don’t beat yourself up. There’s only one thing you need to do: STAY PRODUCTIVE.
I have a long list of things I need to do, and I’m sure you do too. Although I only like to include a few items on my daily to-do list, I think it’s important to create a master to do-list: a list that includes figurative pills you can take when you’re fighting the procrastination bug.
Although nothing on your to-do list is as fun as happy hour, some items are definitely funner than others.
For instance, when I don’t feel like writing, I can do any of the following:
- Read personal finance or business magazines
- Respond to blog comments
- Make travel arrangements for conferences I’ve registered for
- Cook the hamburger meat that’s about to rot in my fridge
- Find someone to install a ceiling fan in my bedroom
- And countless other not so terrible things I need to do
You can also partially work on a project, saving the most tortuous components for last. Just break the project up into smaller pieces.
If you’re a natural born procrastinator, embrace it.
Some days you’ll feel like doing the hard stuff. Other days you’ll feel like doing the easy stuff. The important thing is that stuff gets done every day.