Dear Allie and Cathy:
I’ve blocked writing time on my calendar, and now it’s time to sit down and just DO IT. Only one problem. I now realize that I really can’t write because I should answer that important email. Then I realize that my desk is a mess, and I know I could write so much more effectively if I could just clear away all those distractions.
I think I’m procrastinating. Help!
We’ve been there. We’ve met that demon. And its name is “Productive Procrastination.”
Productive Procrastination is when we put off doing the most important task (writing) and do something that is productive but relatively unimportant (cleaning your desk, sharpening your pencils, checking social media, or even doing research).
As we work with coaching clients, we realize that there comes a point in every engagement when coaching clients try to explain why they didn’t do what they said they would do. And often, these reasons seem highly plausible if not downright rational.
We always reply: Is it a truly legitimate reason for not accomplishing your goal? Or are you the victim of productive procrastination? (This, by the way, sounds a whole lot like “the dog ate my homework” to our ears).
We’re not judging. But we wouldn’t be good coaches if we didn’t ask if your “reason” was truly a legitimate issue. We aren’t serving you if we allow you to merely try to legitimize why you didn’t honor your commitment to write.
We’ve heard scores of clever reasons why a writing assignment wasn’t completed. Do any of these sound familiar? Should you give yourself a pass or own up to the fact that you decided to reprioritize your work?
· I needed to do some additional research.
· I decided on a different thesis statement for my book.
· I got a big client engagement and I needed to cancel my writing time.
· The content outline (TOC) just didn’t work.
· I had to rearrange my office furniture so that I’d be more productive in the office.
· I needed to clear off my desk and clean my office.
· I had some important emails to answer.
Every reason on this list could in fact be legitimate, so if you find yourself facing these issues, ask yourself these questions:
· Is this truly a legitimate reason for not honoring my commitment to write?
· What would happen if I didn’t do this item (right now)?
· Is this activity/task more important that having my book completed (or moved forward)?
· Can I make up the writing time I missed by canceling some other task or activity?
· Will this task genuinely help me move my project forward, or is it merely a delay tactic?
· Do I believe I am worthy of having a book?
You be the judge whether your priorities need to shift!
This post is excerpted from the book, Writer Crisis Hotline!