We’ve all been there. You sit down to start writing, editing, or finishing a very important assignment and bam! Your mind fills with inclinations to do a million little other things instead.
Suddenly your very important assignment is sitting untouched as you fold your laundry, water your plants, organize your colorful pens, and do countless other meaningless tasks. “Why am I doing these things,” you may find yourself asking, knowing that you have more important tasks to accomplish.
But the soothing voice of procrastination is calling for you softly.
How do you say no? How do you resist the urge to procrastinate?
Though no method explored by humans will work every time for every person, here are a few tricks that I love to use to say no to procrastination.
- Take a break:
Sometimes when you cave into procrastination, it’s because your brain is telling you it needs to rest. Set yourself a timer and take a short break doing something relaxing or that you find enjoyment doing. My favorite kinds of breaks to get me back on track include watching an episode of my current binge-show (pronounced The Office) or reading a chapter in whatever novel I’m currently devouring. It may even be helpful to complete those small tasks that keep distracting you.
- Reward yourself
If taking a break isn’t going to cut it, then find ways to reward yourself for staying on task and getting the job done. Maybe for every page you write you treat yourself to a piece of your favorite candy. Or for every urge you fight to procrastinate give yourself a high-five! There are even a few apps and websites out there designed to keep your writing on track. One website called “Fighter’s Block” lets you fight a monster with the words you type. Check out similar websites here.
Change your environment
If your environment is the thing distracting you (i.e a messy desk, the internet, etc.) then change your environment so it doesn’t include those things. Maybe that means turning the internet off (yes, I’m serious) or perhaps just taking your laptop or old-fashioned pen and paper and to the little coffee shop down the street. Either way, it’s a good mental reset to change things up a bit.
- Start something new
Similar to tip #1, sometimes you need to set that project aside and start on something different. Now if you are on a strict deadline, this might not be the best idea, but if your schedule allows it, switch up the project you are working on.
- Put on some tunes!
Sometimes a bopping playlist is all you need to get your head back in the writing game. Turn on some Mozart or other classical pieces to help you concentrate; put together a playlist of your favorite songs; try listening to a videogame soundtrack—which are apparently designed to keep you focused. Find some high-energy jams to get your fingers flying.
By no means will all of these tips work for all of you all the time, but hopefully they inspire you to stand up and say no to procrastination. As Jerry Jenkins says, “The only way to write a book is with seat in chair.” So put your seat in that chair and get writing!
Ellie Tiemens is a professional writing major at Taylor University. She works as a staff writer for the student newspaper The Echo and writes book reviews for the Barnes and Noble Teen Blog. She also is a manuscript evaluator for Illuminate YA. Ellie loves reading (naturally), writing (hence the major), and cats (because cats).