Common Mistakes: Procrastination



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I can not tell you the amount of times I have had an idea for a design that I just sat on. Then, of course, I woke up one day and saw that some smart vendor or person had the same idea and actually acted on it.

Most procrastination happens because we are constantly doubting ourselves, and mostly because as ambitious as we are, we are also capable of being just plain lazy.

To be creative we need to be constantly active, always taking one small daily action. I’d like to share with you my prescription for procrastination:

  • If you have a good idea, write it down. This simple act is a good way to begin.
  • If you need a good idea, find some inspiration. You can do this by looking through books (design books if you’re a designer), checking out websites or work of others in your field, or even by looking through your own past work. You never know where a new idea will come from, and where it can take you. (But don’t let this act become even more fodder for your procrastination. Set a time limit for yourself.)
  • Use your team. Even if it’s just one other person you work with, bounce ideas off this person or just start the discussion. Sometimes, two heads really are better than one.
  • However, and this is important, do not let other people distract you. Sometimes it’s too easy to slip into distracting conversations or get sidetracked by the hubbub around you. This also depends on your work style and personality, but if you’re easily distracted by others, sequester yourself in a quiet corner or your office and promise that you’ll concentrate for at least 30 minutes. The hard part is getting started–once you do that, you usually find your groove.
  • Turn off your email, cell phone, whatever. This is in conjunction with the tip above. It’s easy to lose time by indulging in these things or even, in just browsing the Internet. Unplug and get started concentrating.
  • Establish a routine. Sometimes procrastination happens because your thoughts are all over the place and you feel overwhelmed because you don’t know where to start. If you establish a routine for yourself for your work day, it’ll be easier to tackle everything you need to in a timely manner.
  • Now, and this is the most important tip: just start doing it. Are you putting off re-decorating your apartment? Start painting the walls. Procrastinating on dinner? Put water on to boil while you figure out what you’re going to cook in it. Once you take that very first step, you have no choice but to take the next step and the step after that.

I believe we are probably all guilty of some level of the dreaded procrastination

What are your tips for procrastinating? Or, if you have one to share, tell me a procrastinating horror story. What did you miss out on because you were procrastinating? (Maybe it will all spook us into going and doing work!)