My Cure for Procrastination

Illustration by Clay Bennett for the Christian Science Monitor

I fall prey to procrastination sometimes. People have recommended making schedules or writing to-do lists. Here’s my issue with those; they don’t fit my personality. I like to be flexible and go with the creative flow. The energy I would expend planning my day down to the minute and trying to stay on schedule, could be better used. If I am working on a project and I know it will take an extra half an hour to get it right, I’ll take that time. If a valued client calls and says, “A new venture just came up, would you be able to create a mock-up for me ASAP?” If I can, then the answer is yes. I don’t want to stress about adhering to a perfectly crafted schedule.

The problem I find with to-do lists is that they feed a procrastinator’s cravings. Essentially you are making a list of things to do later. See the predicament? Here’s my solution. I call it the Do It NOW List. If you can’t do it now, then don’t put it on the list. Stop and think of all the things you could be doing at that moment like responding to an email, writing a blog post, loading the dishwasher, or designing your client’s website. Then write them all down. Of course you just made a list of things to do, but the difference is you can perform each task immediately after the other. If you know you can’t finish that magazine layout until you get the final images from the photographer tomorrow, then don’t put it on the list. If you can’t go to the grocery store to pick up milk until your brother returns the car (who knows when), then don’t put it on the list. The Do It NOW List is strictly for the short term. It also gives you freedom to write down things that may have seemed too trivial to put on the all important  to-do list i.e. change the batteries in the remote.

My long term goals are usually big and will get done in due time, but there are simpler tasks in my day to be completed that sometimes fall victim to procrastination. I’m hoping that the Do It NOW List will provide me more focus, so that I get more done in a day. It’s a new concept for me, but I will let you know how it goes. I’ve also created a Do It NOW List print out available to download. I would like to hear from you. Do exacting schedules and regular to-do lists work for you or are you more like me?

P.S. I do have a list of long term projects that I keep on my desktop using a free Adobe Air Application called Doomi. It’s always running so if I have a new idea, say for a wallpaper, I can quickly jot  it down.

UPDATE: I just StumbledUpon this interesting idea for the To Do List Lovers. It’s called the ToDo-Tattoo by Fred & Friends. “Our To-Do Tattoo kit includes 12 graphic “To Do” forms that you can apply to your body wherever it’s most convenient (or creative) and a skin-safe, washable-ink gel pen.” Anyone ever tried this? Leave a comment below.

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6 Comments

  1. Liam Grice

     /  March 22, 2013

    This is the first time a blog written about procrastination that made me laugh! The tatoo to-do list is hilarious. Its a nice touch to have a template for something I could simply write myself. Is that really meant to be serious? At least its free. Someone else is charging $9.99 for a one page template to organize your schedule! Love it.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment and I’m glad I can provide some humor! Sure, it can be taken seriously if you want. At first I printed out some copies and made it into a book, but now I’ve found that it helped me adopt the mindset of just telling myself Do It NOW and I get the little things accomplished.

      Reply
  2. Love your post! I’m a mega list person, I’m constantly making new lists that have to be in a specific order too which, yes, is a bit OTT but I still do it and guess what?…only about 30% of the stuff on the list gets done and then the list gets longer and longer. I think your Do it NOW list is a fab idea as there’s a sense of urgency to it which hopefully make you get it done that day!

    Reply
  3. Millche

     /  January 23, 2012

    Excellent idea Ms. Pindsha! I think sometimes I make a list and get overwhelmed by the list. Most of the time, however, the list helps me to feel in control of all of my “to dos”. However, during times of stress and short deadlines the “DO IT NOW’ list could be critical. It could be the difference between finishing on time and finishing when everything you could possibly do is done…never! All in all I will take your suggestion to heart and give it a try. :o)

    Reply
    • Thanks for stopping by 🙂 I’m glad that To Do Lists work for you. I actually had you in mind when I wrote this because I admire your organizational skills. I would always wonder why making to do lists was so freeing for you and it would end up being so frustrating for me. It had literally just clicked that there wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with me, it just didn’t fit into my creative process.

      The long term stuff really are always on the back of my mind. They are mostly projects that will take a nice chunk of my time, so I’m always trying to figure out what would be the best time to do it and in what order. It was the little immediate things that often add up to big things, I needed to keep track of and truly focus on. The Do It Now list forces me to stop saying, I’ll do that later because that’s minor.

      Reply
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