Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Combating Your Procrastination

I'm reading "The Feeling Good Handbook" by David D. Burns, M.D. It's one I come back to now and again. He has a section on procrastination that I find helpful and so I thought I'd share. If you find yourself procrastinating about your next book, your current book or even promoting your book here are a few simple steps Dr. Burns suggests to get you started:
1) Label the task you want to accomplish- such as; writing the proposal for your next book.
2) Get a piece of paper and make two columns. In the first, write down the benefits to not doing this task. In the second column, write down what the costs are to not doing the task. Ex: the benefits: If I don't write the proposal, it won't get rejected. If I don't write it, then I can feel as if the idea is great and not worry that it isn't going to really work. If I don't write the proposal then I don't have to get started on the next book. Now- the costs: If I don't write the proposal I feel behind and will miss my deadline. If I don't write it, I'll waste a lot of creative energy on an idea that isn't going anywhere. If I don't write it, I won't get the book done and I won't make any money. Next look at your list. If the benefits of procrastination out weigh the costs, then simply choose not to do the project. It's not procrastination if you choose not to do it. It's a choice. But, if the costs out weight the benefits, then go on to the next step.
3) Set a time and day you will begin the task. Ex: Tuesday at 2 p.m. Now, write down all the reasons you won't do the task at that time. (You know you'll have reasons.) Ex: I'll forget. I'll get a phone call. My kids will want something. Next- counter those reasons. Ex: I will write a note or make an e-mail alert reminding me of my time and day. I will not answer the phone and call back at 3 p.m. I will tell the kids I am working for this time and give them something to occupy them while I work-such as a nap, a video, a snack. etc.
4) Break the task up into reasonable steps so you can at least begin your task. Ex: a) Create a Word .doc for the proposal. b) Create a list of research links for the book. c) Write a simple outline. d) Write character arcs. etc.
5) Work on the task for the allotted time- starting with the simple steps. Give yourself credit for the work you have accomplished. You are no longer procrastinating. You are working toward your goal.
Let me know what you think about these simple steps and if this helps. Cheers~


Pamala Knight said...

Oh Nancy, my sweet. Why are you so smart? And you're always right there, with a blog post that's totally apropos to something I'm usually struggling with. I know I should be working on my revisions and rewrites, but I even went out to WATER THE LAWN. And in this heat that speaks volumes to the lengths I will go in order to procrastinate, lol.

Thank you for helping me get back on track.

Miss seeing you!

Howard said...

I love this book, Nancy. Read it a few years back because I suffer from anxiety attacks and found it the best book on the subject and in other areas. Great post!

Rachelle Gagne said...

Might I point out, that instead of doing point 2, that you could indeed be writing...just saying. :P

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Pamala,

Thanks~ yes, I've been know to wash windows and curtains instead of write. lol. It's so funny. Hope your writing is going well.

Miss seeing you as well- Cheers~

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Howard~

I agree that this is a great book. I pull it out every couple of years and reread it to remind myself of the tools he provides to help with anxiety and such.


Nancy J. Parra said...


You crack me up! You are so right.