Writer’s block, project block, acute procrastinitis…whatever you call it it’s a serious drain on productivity and self-worth. If only we could harness the energy we expend in NOT doing into the project itself!
You can probably guess I speak as a fellow sufferer. And sadly I don’t have a magic formula that will instantly turn you from a bored procrastinator into an enthusiastic productivity machine. If I did I’d be a lot richer -and have achieved a whole lot more! But over time I’ve discovered some strategies that work for me so I thought I’d share them with you….before I get another coffee!
Is it still actually what you want? Sometimes we’ve expended so much on a project our pride insists we have to finish it. But maybe things have changed, maybe you’ve changed. What are the consequences of completing/ not completing? Are there advantages to NOT doing it? Either let it go or finish it – but make it a positive decision.
Be accountable. If I had to choose just one strategy this would be it! Human beings are socially motivated. If you tell someone else what you’re doing and when- you’ll be ten times more likely to do it! So get yourself a coach, or at the very least an accountability friend, who will help you work out achievable goals and who’s going to ask for progress reports
Set yourself a restart date. NOT tomorrow! You need to get out of the cycle of trying to do it and not succeeding. Choose a special date that means something to you, preferably at least 2 weeks away. Write it on your calendar, use the time to plan and get excited about it afresh.
Do a stock/reality check. What have you got? How far along actually are you? What have you done? What is left still to do? Make a list, tick off what you’ve already done. Go back to build momentum. Tackle some of the project you’ve partly done or have rough notes for- what you’re looking for is a quick win to build motivation and tick off more on your list. Commit to one small step. What could you do to move you one step forward? Don’t worry about the big picture, or completing the whole project. Just think about starting.
Try ‘going out’ to work. Or at the very least find yourself a new workstation which you use exclusively for your project. It’s not just about avoiding distraction but breaking that psychological barrier, getting away from reminders of where you haven’t achieved. Diarise project sessions. The simple fact of putting it in your diary will help you feel more accountable and limiting the time can actually make you more productive.
Don’t do it alone. Find a study buddy who’s doing a similar project, someone who you can discuss ideas with, share practical tips and boost each other’s enthusiasm.
And last but definitely not least …
Don’t be a slave to perfectionism – Striving for excellence is good but sometimes it’s also our biggest block. We keep endlessly rewriting or trying to make something perfect because we’re worried we’ll be judged and the result is we never actually do it. Producing something even if imperfectly is almost always better than nothing! How good does it actually have to be to work? Does it have to be perfect? Sometimes ‘good enough’ actually is enough!
Maybe you can add to the list – let me know in the comments! I have a sudoku to finish….