3 Tips from a
Reformed Procrastinator

By nature, I’m a serious procrastinator.

It started back when I was a teenager … I was the kid who ALWAYS waited until the last minute to start a big school project.

My poor parents … they would tell me to start early, but somehow I never listened …

Then, they’d catch me frantically working on something as bedtime approached …

When they asked me about it, I’d inform them that I’d be up late, working into the night … and, that I might need help to finish it on time …

And it wasn’t that I procrastinated on purpose — I was otherwise a great student, with straight A’s, as a matter of fact.

So, why did I wait until the last minute every single time? And why did this bad habit continue into my college days, and even into my adult working life?

It wasn’t that I was irresponsible … years later, I’ve realized my problem is that I’m a perfectionist.

You see, when I thought about those projects, I wanted to do a really great job. I wanted to create something that would stand out — something that would really wow my teachers …

In short, I wanted it to be perfect.

And there was my problem … any idea that came to me, if it wasn’t perfect, I brushed it aside and tried to think of something better.

By spending so many hours thinking about that project, brainstorming ideas — I felt like I was making progress …

But, in actuality, I was going nowhere …

All the time I spent thinking, planning — it didn’t do me much good in terms of actually finishing the project.

Even worse … the end-result was never my best work, because I had been so rushed.

Nowadays, I finally recognize my “perfectionism-problem,” and I’ve started working to defeat it.

I’ve learned that taking the first step … putting active energy into a project … actually inspires more ideas …

And, I’ve seen the rewards that follow when I get things done early.

So, to motivate myself as I continue to overcome this bad procrastination habit, I keep these scenarios in mind. They’re a big help when I need to push myself …

 … when I need to stop dragging my feet, and get things done!

1. ‘No results’ are worse than ‘imperfect results’

For many years, I considered myself to be a ‘writer’ … without actually writing anything …

My inner perfectionist cautioned me against all the troubles I might run into …

For example, maybe my writing wouldn’t be good enough, and no one would want to read it or buy it …

I had to get over my desire for perfect results, and accept that there is a learning curve … that if my writing wasn’t perfect in the beginning, that was okay …

Because eventually it would get better.

Initially, I also felt like I didn’t have enough time in my schedule to sit down and write …

I wanted those ‘perfect’ writing conditions — the day when I would have enough time to write for several hours at once, the weather would be perfect, I’d have a nice cup of coffee beside me, and I’d have no interruptions …

Eventually I realized that if I was going to start, I had to just do it!

One day, I thought to myself: “If I had started six months ago, even working just a few minutes per day … I would be well on my way by now.”

I didn’t want to have that same feeling of regret in another six months — so I decided to start NOW!

2. Clients love when you beat deadlines! And it leads to more work …

Once I started getting bigger projects from clients, a whole new set of insecurities arose …

I was worried they wouldn’t like my writing … and that I would lose the opportunity to work with them again.

Fortunately, somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered some of the experts at AWAI saying that ‘being easy to work with is just as important as having good writing skills.’

So, for my first major project, I turned it over to the client about a week early …

I figured that, even if they didn’t like what I wrote, there would still be plenty of time to change things, well before the deadline.

And — it worked! Not only did they like what I wrote, but they were also very happy I had finished up so early!

I know that getting my work in early really helped to make a good impression — and, following that assignment, they hired me right away for another project.

Plus, there was one more added bonus … since I had freed up that extra time in my schedule, I was able to take on a project from another client who contacted me that same week — and thus earn another paycheck.

3. Life throws unexpected curveballs …

I’m a planner — I like to figure out my goals and schedule them well ahead of time …

However, things don’t always go according to plan.

For example, this past summer, I was working my way through a mentoring program to get my freelance business established.

I already knew I would be out of town for two weeks, and I worked fast so I wouldn’t fall behind during my vacation …

 … but do you know what I didn’t plan for? …

Two sprained wrists!

While walking through a parking lot, I tripped over a curb and crash-landed pretty hard on the pavement.

Thankfully, nothing was broken … but in addition to a sprained ankle, the impact of the fall had caused pain, bruising, and swelling in both of my wrists.

I tried to continue working and typing the next day — but it was immediately clear that wasn’t an option, as the pain and swelling got worse.

So, that was another two weeks when I couldn’t get my work done …

What I learned is this — I can’t assume I’m going to have time to do things later …

So, if there’s something I want to do — there’s no time like the present.

Take it from this reformed procrastinator and get started today — you won’t regret it!

This article, 3 Tips from a Reformed Procrastinator was originally published by B2B Writing Success.

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Published: March 22, 2018

1 Response to “3 Tips from a Reformed Procrastinator”

  1. Tammy, Thank you, for sharing your thoughts on this subject. My perfectionism gets in my own way ALL THE TIME! I needed this reminder today and for the days ahead. Imperfect action is better than NO action.

    Lesley

    Lesley FisherNovember 26, 2018 at 11:27 am


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