Overcoming Procrastination

29 08 2010

My Muse--Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I just stumbled across a blog called “Getting Jump Started” that has what the author, Sarah  Bush, calls the 20 Minute Technique. To get moving on projects (especially creative ones) that you’ve stalled on for a while, set a timer for 20 minutes and do something–anything–related to the project. Sounds easy, right?

It is. I’ve been using this technique for years, only I set the timer for 10 minutes. The results are the same. It shoves me out of my complacency and gets me moving in the right direction. Even if it’s only a tiny step, I’m one step closer to finishing than I was before. And it works for writing a novel, painting a picture, cleaning the house, or any task that I’ve been avoiding.

One of the reasons it works so well is that, for a perfectionist like me, the critical part of my brain shuts down. It dismisses those 10-minute efforts.

“Ha,” it says. “There’s no way you can do anything productive in such a short amount of time.” And it stalks off.

Yay! It’s amazing what a great creative start I get before it realizes that I’m actually getting things done without it. By the time it comes storming over to demand that my creative half pay attention to its directives, the work’s well under way. And even it can see that the creative side’s doing a super job. Sometimes it stalks off to sulk; other times it points a finger at all the mistakes, but by then my creative side is strong enough to handle the barbs.

Most of the time procrastination is fear of failure, so the 10- or 20-minute trick helps. No one can write a perfect novel in that short a time, so for a little while, my muse can play freely without the pressure of producing a perfect product.

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One response

29 08 2010
Bernie

I like this technique. Look out, Perfectionist Bernie. Your days are numbered!

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