Productive Procrastination: Just Go With It

Hello, hello!  It’s been a slow couple of weeks writing-wise.  I’ve been re-reading Garnets and Guardians in preparation for another round of edits (it really shouldn’t have taken me two weeks to get through it, but I was lazy and not so productively procrastinating).  At the same time, Dad was doing a deep clean of the house and, when it came down to the last room or so, he started doing everything except cleaning what he said he was going to (he did the laundry, ran errands, put knobs and pulls on some cabinets and drawers, etc.).  When I picked on him for procrastinating, he denied it because he was doing things that needed to be done.  That’s exactly what productive procrastination is: doing things that need to be done eventually instead of what you’re supposed to be doing.  Apparently we all do it, not just writers.  I felt much better about myself when I realized that.

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It’s kind of like when you realize everyone poops.  You’re not a freak anymore.  And yes, this is a real children’s book.

 I know writers who clean their house or run errands or answer emails when they’re supposed to be writing.  I tidy up my computer files when I’m desperate to avoid writing.  I also volunteer to read for people when I’m looking for a break.  There are all kinds of ways to avoid what you’re supposed to be doing when you have other stuff to focus on.  I know some people who keep busy by working on a short story or two instead of the novel they’re in the middle of writing.  I’m supposed to start edits on G&G today, but I might just write a ten minute play instead.  Sometimes, the brain insists you do something else.  That’s okay.

Productive procrastination plays two important roles in life.  First, it gives you a well-deserved break while keeping you from feeling guilty for not doing something that needs to be done.  Sitting around and binge watching Netflix instead of writing feels like a no-no, but fold the laundry while you’re doing it and suddenly it’s not so bad.  And second, it gives us the motivation to do all the little things no one really wants to do.  I didn’t really want to do my checkbook the other day, but I didn’t want to read G&G again even more, so guess which one got done first.  It forces us to prioritize things.

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Exactly.

 Eventually, you’ll run out of things that are less painful than whatever you’re supposed to be doing, or you’ll realize you have a deadline looming, and you’ll suck it up and do the thing.  If not, then whatever it was wasn’t that important to you in the first place.  As long as you’re getting something done, take it as a win.  Yeah, I feel guilty when I don’t get my writing or edits or whatever done, but as long as I did something important in its place, I’m happy.  Every task completed during procrastination is one less thing you have to worry about the next day.  Enjoy it.

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Embrace the productivity.

Are you a productive procrastinator?  How do you decide when enough is enough and you should do the thing you’re supposed to do?  Is there a method to your procrastination or do you simply do whatever pops to mind first?  Feel free to share your words of advice with us.

See you next week!

Productivity Is Overrated

Hello, hello!  I know I’ve probably posted about feeling unproductive and all of that before, but I can’t find a specific post, so that’s what you’re getting today.  I asked for some blog topic suggestions for today’s post and my friends did not disappoint.  One of them asked “What do you do when you feel unproductive?”  Honestly, it depends on whether or not I’m actually being unproductive.  Just because I feel that way, doesn’t mean that I’m not just being too hard on myself.  So, the first step is to evaluate what I’ve done that day (or week or month or whatever) to decide if I’m being my own worst critic.  Then, I go from there.

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I am quite good at procrastination.

 If it turns out I really am being unproductive for the week (I go by the week because we’re all allowed a day for goofing off here and there), I suck it up and write or edit something or do whatever it is that I need to do.  Sometimes, I have to accept that I’m going to be unproductive in my writing if I have to do extra adulting (doctor’s appointments, the dentist, meetings, etc.) or if I want to go out and have a life or something, but that’s just being productive in different ways.  I have to remember that productivity comes in many different forms.

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That’s how it usually goes.

If I have been productive, I allow myself the chance to take a day off (unless deadlines are involved, then I kill myself with work until I’m done).  If you’ve been working steadily and have kept up with your work, one day of doing nothing isn’t going to hurt you.  It might actually help.  It gives you a chance to breathe and come back to the project rested and ready to look at it in a new light.  Self-care is a very specific type of productivity that seems unproductive to everyone else, but we all do it and we all need it.  If you’re ashamed of taking a day off, call it a “self-care day” and that helps make it feel more like you’re doing something.

 Then again, if I’ve been doing my writing and editing and all of that, but slacking in other areas, I re-prioritize my time for the day.  I read (which I always put on the back burner, sometimes for months) or I adult or I devote time to checking in on friends (not as often as I should) or whatever I’ve been ignoring.  There’s always going to be something I fall behind on.  I have to accept that.

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And that’s when it’s time to start writing again.

 It’s really hard to find a balance where I almost always feel productive.  I’m always slacking on one front or another.  But since I’ve convinced myself that productivity comes in many forms, it’s a little easier (and a lot more complicated, if that makes sense) to know when I’m truly being unproductive.  I think productivity is more about learning to prioritize your time around the things that need to be done.  Sometimes, that will mean cutting back on writing in order to take care of yourself.  And that’s okay.  It’s always going to be a juggling act, and there will be times when you drop a ball or two.  Pick them back up and start again.  Eventually, you’ll learn which ones you can leave off to the side until you’re ready to swap something out with them.  The point is, you keep trying and learning and growing.  That’s the most important thing: keep going.