Procrastination can really kill your creativity – but you don’t need me to tell you that.
You really want to do it and you have every intention of starting. But you just need to get a couple of other things in place first. Unfortunately, those things are proving difficult. You know you need to get round to them but it’s just not happening.
So your creativity is held up. A few weeks or months go by and you still haven’t started. But you really do intend to!
Procrastination and creativity
It may be a simple concept to just get on with whatever it is you are procrastinating on but if it were that easy you wouldn’t need this article!
This article contains some tools and tricks that may help you. However, a word of warning: all the procrastination-beating wisdom, tools and techniques in the world will not take away the fact that at some point you just have to get on and do it – so if you want to make that moment now rather than later – quit reading this and get on with your project!
Everyone suffers from procrastination from time to time, even me! There are two types of activity that you procrastinate on: things you don’t want to do and projects which are so close to your heart that you are nervous to do anything towards them. These five tips will help you to understand why you procrastinate and more importantly will give you some ideas to get moving again.
Tip #1: Awareness of resistance
Procrastination is a manifestation of resistance or deep-seated fear. It is as though we have a gremlin inside us whose only job is to ensure that we don’t do anything scary like live out our soul-purpose or answer to our creative calling. Our inner gremlin wants our life to be safe, small and ordered so that we are not hurt by risk or excitement.
The gremlin manifests in ways that are just perfect for us. For example your gremlin may be the extreme tiredness you feel on the morning when you promised yourself that you would get up early to write, or it might be the RSI that developed when you started playing the piano and practising in a diligent way. Sometimes the gremlin occurs in people around us, for example, your partner or a close relative always has some kind of crisis every time you start to make progress with your heart-felt dreams.
Awareness of your gremlin, and the mysterious ways in which it works, is more than 50% of the solution. Once you realise what is going on, then you can start to do something about it.
Tip #2: Use your resistance as a compass
If you are beset with obstacles or fear every time you try to take a step forward with your creative life then take comfort from the fact that your inner gremlin only rears its head if there is something good going on. There is no resistance to getting fat on your sofa or spending too many hours in the office.
It is only when you seek self-improvement or a noble aim that the gremlin appears, so view its arrival as a good thing. It might well be that the creative project that scares the shit out of you is the one you really should be doing.
Tip #3: Take baby steps
It can be daunting to start on a new art project. Excitement can soon give way to terror and that’s when procrastination can kick in and progress stops. The best way round this is to keep the activity steps very small and really easy.
For example the thought “give up job as an IT programmer and become a jewellery designer” is very daunting. However breaking this down into researching a jewellery design course, having a conversation with someone who already does this or signing up for a taster workshop is much more palatable and it allows you to start making progress towards your dreams without doing anything drastic like giving up your job, and hence your income.
Taking baby steps allows you to take action now without knowing all the details of your plan. It makes the first step manageable and gives you momentum to gradually get on with the subsequent steps. This approach also builds your confidence so that when you have a setback (or a gremlin moment) you can look back on the progress you have made so far and get going again in an easy, manageable way.
Tip #4: Set the bar low and do it
Sometimes it is necessary to set the bar low and achieve your objective than set it too high and achieve nothing. For example, it might feel very noble to write 2000 words a day but if that isn’t realistic then you probably won’t do it and you will feel very wretched about it. How about aiming lower, say 300 or 500 words? This is much more doable. Writing 300 words every day is much better than never writing 2000!
Another way to keep the bar lower is to say that you will do the activity for a short time-frame, say 20 minutes. You are more likely to get going now you don’t have to spend much time on it and you’ll probably find that once started, you will keep going a bit longer. Alternatively you can stop after the allotted time but make sure you set yourself another short time-framed goal for the next day.
Tip #5: Just do it
I have to repeat this: the only way to beat procrastination is to get on with the task in hand. What is one small, easy thing you could do right now that would move you forward with your creative project? Will you do it now?
Everybody, even super successful people, suffer from resistance. It is a natural phenomenon of life. However, super successful people keep taking action and trying their best to move forwards in spite of their resistance. They don’t let it get in their way and neither should you!
Now I’d love to hear from you
How does your gremlin try and stop your creativity? And how do you overcome it and get creating. Leave a comment and tell us your tips for getting on with your creative project. Your tip might be someone else’s lifesaver so do be brave and type a comment!
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