Posted by Doug White on Monday, January 27, 2014 - 00:00 | Follow me
Have you ever felt creatively stuck and been advised to "stop procrastinating" by a well-intentioned colleague or loved one? While you know the person is speaking truth, the words of wisdom are annoying, right? When you're battling the blank screen and losing, those two little words – "stop procrastinating" – only pile on more pressure, which in turn can lead to more procrastinating and worsening time management troubles.
As someone who occasionally manages to hit roadblocks before turning on the ignition, I found great creative inspiration in The Art of Getting Started by Lee Crutchley, who admits that procrastination and perfectionism got the better of him for years. His empowering and humorous hands-on guide is full of quick activities and challenges that will jumpstart your creativity. (Prompts include sketching your favorite object from the vantage point of an ant and drawing with both hands simultaneously.)
But in addition to the fun interactivity of The Art of Getting Started, I appreciated and related to Crutchley's opening admission. In the foreword, he writes in part:
For as long as I can remember I've had trouble starting things. I have great ideas and good intentions, but actually committing to that very first step makes me nervous. For a long time I didn't realize what I was doing. I'd just enjoy letting the ideas swim around my brain while I found other things to do.
The revelation came when I actually admitted what was going on. The truth was that I was scared that I'd fail, or that the final result wouldn't live up to the promise of the initial idea, or that everyone would laugh at me. So I'd do anything else I could think of. I was deluding myself that the ideas I had were so great that turning them into the real things would be the easy bit.
Turning ideas into real things is not the easy bit. It takes work, and delaying that work does one thing – it delays the work.
It was that realization that made me start working on this book.
The book features the techniques and prompts that Crutchley now uses to help himself power past procrastination. Crutchley tells me that since acknowledging that fear was at the root of his dawdling, he's happier, more productive and less stressed. But he notes his effort to stop procrastinating has required determination and a sustained effort.
"I think procrastination is the same as most problems; you can't just make a couple of changes and have that fix everything," he says. "You have to constantly work at it. Well, I do anyway. The main thing is to do something every day which helps you work towards where you want to be, no matter how small."
Are you a recovering project postponer? How did you stop procrastinating?