A Crazy Horse - Painting By Lizabeth

3 Ways to Tackle Procrastination Without Going Crazy

Like to stop sabotaging your creative flow?

Procrastination gives you something to look forward to, they say. It also allows you to get some work done, even if it isn’t the work you were supposed to be doing.

You might mistake it for laziness. However, it’s not. Look closely and observe yourself deciding to do something else instead of the task you know you should be doing.

That’s a procrastinator in action, which is not the sign of a lazy person but of someone who fears failure or is struggling with anxiety.

So how can you tackle the act of delaying or postponing something without going crazy through trying? Here are three ways to get started on the right (write) things.


Procrastination Tip #1:

Paint the Last Supper


Leonardo Da Vinci was a procrastinator, often waiting until the last moment to act.

One famous story relates that while Leonardo was painting The Last Supper, he received objections about his procrastinating from a church Abbot.

Da Vinci solved the dispute by threatening to paint the Abbot as Judas in the fresco, thereby stopping any further complaints in their tracks.

Instead of bowing down to the pressure to conform and get on with it, this ultra-famous visionary preferred to see himself as a creative polygamist. He was quoted as saying, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

A procrastinator is somebody who can’t start a creative assignment. Leonardo was someone who couldn’t stop beginning creative projects.

Maybe this is you, and if so, there’s nothing wrong with that. So, embrace your creative polygamy and revel in its wildness.

Alternatively, decide to procrastinate on purpose. There’s nothing like accepting your fate to get it to change in a flash.

Rory Vaden, author of Procrastinate on Purpose, suggests discarding your To-Do list and writing out a Focus Funnel instead. You do this by asking the following three questions about your task:

  1. Can I eliminate it?
  2. Can I automate it?
  3. Can I delegate it?

If you cannot eliminate, automate, or delegate the task, all that’s left to ask is: Can it wait until later?

Vaden says that if you must do it now, protect yourself from all outside distractions by shutting down your email, closing the door, turning off your mobile, and DOING the task.

However, if it can wait, you are invited to procrastinate on purpose.

“Doing something early on isn’t creating more time. Instead, it’s taking something from tomorrow and bringing it into today, which opens you up to the risk of unexpected change cost.”

~ Rory Vaden

If you’re unsure what this means, think back over the last two years of this current pandemic.

Did you book a plane flight in advance, only to have it cancelled because of unforeseen changes to the rules?

I know I have (Yes, New Zealand, I will be visiting as soon as Jacinda lets me in).

As the wise Mister Rory puts it:

“You live in a world of change, and should something happen, and you need to reschedule your flight, you’ll have to invest more time and money to make the change later. You may understand the risk of being too late, but it’s important to realise there is risk attached to doing something too early.”

~ Rory Vaden

That’s the risk of unexpected change cost, making being a professional procrastinator turned creative polygamist so much more practical.


Procrastination Tip #2:

Embrace Divergent Thinking


You have a problem, and you force or encourage yourself to develop as many unique or appropriate solutions to the issue. Congratulations.

You have just succeeded in reaping the rewards of divergent thinking, which many people contribute to being the number one activity or source of creativity.

Divergent thinking is a form of active procrastination.

Healthier than passively procrastinating through indecisiveness and failing to complete your tasks on time, it embraces working under pressure and making deliberate decisions to procrastinate.

To get diverging on a problem, ask yourself:

  1. What if I tried it this way?
  2. What if I give myself a time limit?
  3. What if I limit the tools and materials I use?
  4. How can I incorporate humour into my thinking?

You could also write a story about the problem and make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next.

Or paint a picture and include everything you can think of that SHOULDN’T be in there.

You will often find that curiosity, a willingness to take risks, and persistence will enhance your ability for divergent thinking.


Like To Challenge Yourself?

Then have fun answering the question:

What can I do with a paper clip?

Think of as many practical ideas as you can.

Sir Ken Robinson created this question as an exercise in thinking about thinking.

Some people have lists of over 200 ideas of what to do with that paper clip.

The more you practice, the more you build your divergent thinking muscles, increase your confidence, and become an active procrastinator.

So be proud of it.


Procrastination Tip #3:

Use the Optimise Distraction Technique Like a Hunchback


Say you have a list of tasks you must do, but not much muster to do them. Enter distraction, which is a master skill we all possess.

Suddenly cleaning the bathroom looks preferable to writing that article, or mulching the garden is a definite yes to avoid painting that canvas.

These are distractions. However, they are still tasks you are getting done if they are on your “To Do” list.

So, you can utilise your other tasks to distract you from the one job you must do and create a loop of distracting action that will eventually eliminate everything on the list, including the thing you were procrastinating over.

Genius isn’t it. You may feel like you are indulging in distractive behaviours, but procrastination hacking is what you are doing.


The Lesson Of Notre Dame

However, if this technique doesn’t appeal, never fear you could get naked like the writer Victor Hugo.

Victor started writing The Hunchback of Notre Dame in late 1830, while facing a demanding deadline of February 1831.

He had prepared his study and even purchased a new ink bottle, yet still, he could not bring himself to write.

So instead, he got naked, with nothing but a woollen blanket for warmth, having locked away his clothes so he couldn’t go outside.

The trick worked, with Victor completing the book before the deadline and finishing the ink bottle.

Sometimes you must go naked like a hunchback when you run out of distractions.


Leading With Your Why

If all else fails, then next time you’re procrastinating, write down your main intention for the day on a post-It note.

Ask yourself: What task do I want to complete?

Then answer this question by writing down three reasons why this task or project is essential for you to finish.

It’s a simple activity, yet it connects you to why you want to do the work.

Being clear on your “why” is a powerful motivator and one that might just give you that extra push to get the task done.

Now go forth and create!


A Crazy Horse - Painting By Lizabeth
A Crazy Horse – Painting By Lizabeth

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