The Best Strategy to Beat Procrastination on Your Next Project

This changed my work life — maybe it could change yours.

You know what’s not fun? Repeating the phrase “I’ll just do it tomorrow” for like 30 days and then realizing you really DO have to do it tomorrow and WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THIS

Procrastination is weird. Many of us continue to do it, knowing we should not continue to do it, because we keep putting off starting to not put things off. Did reading that hurt your brain as much as it hurt mine to write it? See, we could have avoided this BY NOT PROCRASTINATING.

So, basically, most of us say we’re going to stop torturing ourselves by not starting our work within a reasonable time frame preceding the due date. But we haven’t stopped yet.

You might be wondering, four paragraphs in, if I actually have a helpful solution to this common “writer problem.” Don’t worry — I do. It just might not be as exciting or complex as you’re expecting.

It’s very tempting — maybe even part of your normal routine — to receive an assignment or set a deadline, put it in your calendar, and wait until “tomorrow” to start working on it.

Don’t do that!

I do this. I take on a new assignment or set myself a deadline for something and immediately start procrastinating. Every single time, I wait until the night before the deadline — OR THE DAY OF, BECAUSE WHY NOT — to finish a project.

You do not have to — and should not — wait. Not even a day.

Don’t wait until “tomorrow,” because tomorrow won’t seem like a good day to start it, either. Or the next day. Or the next day. Or the day before the day before it’s due.

Start as soon as you mark it down in your calendar or to-do list. Start TODAY.

I know, I know. You don’t want to. It’s too early. “You have time.” Ha. You say that now. But think what would happen — how you would feel — if you started it today, finished it tomorrow or a few days from now, and didn’t have to live with that deadline hanging over your head.

You’d feel pretty great. Trust me. If you spend most of your weeks carrying lingering deadlines on your shoulders, you probably don’t even remember what it feels like to be free.

That freedom could be yours. If you just. Got. Started. Now.

Yes, this solution seems too obvious to be real. Just start now? Well of course! But we’re very good at coming up with all kinds of reasons why we shouldn’t.

Let me leave you with this: It’s never too early to be productive. You’ll have a lot more fun not doing work when there isn’t work to be done. You DON’T have anything better to do tonight, you should start while it’s fresh in your mind (e.g., you just pitched the idea and got the OK), and you will hate yourself so much less if you don’t put it off.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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