Editor’s note: this post was first published in 2011 on The Renegade Writer.
You’ve tried everything to battle your procrastination, but you still keep slacking off.
So, what’s the deal?
Is it because you’re afraid of rejection or criticism?
No? You’ve already overcome your writing fears?
Ok. Then what’s wrong then?
Oh. You’re bored?
Ahhh! That makes sense. No wonder all those other productivity tips haven’t been working for you!
The only way you can kill procrastination now is if you throw away all those other “tips,” start from scratch, and go against EVERYTHING the experts have told you to do.
Too bad there’s no such thing as an “anti-tip,” right?
Actually, you’re in luck. There is.
If it’s boredom that’s keeping you from staying on top of things, then I suggest trying out these 3 “anti-tips” to help you get back on track:
Anti-Tip #1: Do Nothing
That’s right. Do nothing. Stop trying. Just stop. Stop trying to write that article. Just go out to the park, walk around, and do nothing for about 15-30 minutes.
While at the park, pay attention to the world around you. Pay attention to your breathing. Pay attention to everything around you except for what your mind is doing. Don’t try to stop yourself from thinking. Just try to gently move away from your thinking, every couple of seconds, in order to bring your attention back to the world around you.
At the end of this 15 or 30 minutes, not only will you feel refreshed, but a new sense of eagerness and motivation will have bubbled up to the surface–and you’ll want to get right back to that article. Poof! Procrastination is no more!
Why This Anti-Tip Works
Sounds like magic, don’t it? But the truth is there’s a logical reason why doing nothing is helping you get back on track.
You see, we’ve been taught that “doing nothing” is a bad thing. But the truth is that many of us have NEVER experienced what it’s REALLY like to “do nothing.”
Because even when we aren’t working, we’re still worrying about work; and even if we’re not working or worrying about work, we’re on the Internet, or we’re watching the news, or we are doing tons of other things that keep taking up our mind’s attention—and that keeps depleting our mind’s energy. When we are engaging in all these “non-work” activities it may SEEM that we are doing “nothing” but we are actually doing a lot of “something.”
On the other hand, true “non-doing” means that there exists a very minimum amount of distractions for our mind. No gadgets or gizmos.
The only thing that non-doing requires is you and the world around you. No talking. Just listening. No doing. Just being.
As a result of this process, your mind gets the rest and refreshment it so desperately needs, and in return, your mind will reward you with productivity.
Anti-Tip #2: Goof Off
Would you believe me if I said you have a little kid inside you? A kid that is dying to go out and play—every day of the week? Would you believe me if I said that this same kid has been going crazy for decades because you have constantly ignored it and forced it to work, or think about work, every single day of your adult life?
This kid is so fed up with you that now that you need to write that important article, your inner kid is sabotaging your progress in repayment for all those years you neglected him (or her).
Don’t believe me?
Okay, but next time you’re procrastinating, I want you to do this instead: don’t work. Play. For 15-30 minutes.
“What is this ‘play’ you speak of?”
Oh boy. You’re in bigger trouble than I thought.
Try this: go visit a toy store and play with one of your favorite toys. (Don’t tell me you’re not dying to pull that life-sized light saber from the display case and start battling with an invisible Darth Vader.)
If not a toy store, go to a nearby observatory and check out the planetarium. If you’re close to a beach, go to the shore, and dive into the water with your clothes on—even if it’s freezing cold outside. If you’re next to a park, get close to a steep incline and run down this incline as fast as you can. If there’s snow where you live—what are you waiting for? Go sledding!
I bet you anything that as soon as you’re done having fun, your inner child will reward you by getting out of your way and letting you do your work.
Why This Anti-Tip Works
Adults are not used to allowing themselves to play, but we need as much play as children do. If we don’t give our inner child any attention, that inner child will protest and make it hard for us to get any work done.
Anti-Tip #3: Treat Your Work Like A Joke
If you’re struggling with procrastination because of boredom, try writing your freelance article (or other writing piece) as if it was a joke.
To give you an example: a while back, I wrote a guest post for WriteToDone. It was actually a pretty serious post about the challenges that I faced in the past year, and how I overcame them to write the first draft of my novel.
But in order to beat procrastination, and get that post written, I had to have some fun with it first. So, in an earlier draft of that post, I actually quoted Dora the Explorer and linked to a random episode of her show. Mentioning Dora the Explorer was funny and enjoyable enough for me that it helped me finish the article on time.
Now, before I submitted the post, I cut out all the mentions of Dora the Explorer. But it didn’t matter if Dora didn’t make the final cut. What did matter was that she helped me finish the article.
Treating your article like a joke doesn’t hurt anybody. When you’re done with your article, you can just cut out the joke parts before you submit it, and your employer doesn’t need to know the difference. *
Why This Anti-Tip Works
“A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go dooown!”
So, the next time you feel like procrastinating, and none of the traditional productivity tips are working for you, then just try out these “anti-tips:” do nothing, goof off, and treat your work like a joke.
Not only will you find yourself getting your work done on time, but you might even have little fun in the process.
And isn’t that what life’s all about?
* In case you were wondering, Charlie Sheen made an appearance in an earlier “joke” version of this very article.