Just do a little. That is the best piece of advice I’ve ever got.
The idea is to think about what small thing you can do right now to bring you closer to your end goal.
Starting something is so difficult for me – I’m a serial procrastinator. Once I get going all is well, but I’ll do anything to avoid those awkward first steps.
When I was at school and university I’d clean the house from top to bottom, rearrange my CDs by colour or decide now was the time to finally read War and Peace – all to avoid starting an essay.
Then, when I could put it off no longer, I’d whip myself into a panic and pull an all-nigher, cursing myself for not having started sooner.
Nothing changed when I started work as a reporter. Faced with a blank screen and a notebook overflowing with information I’d scroll through social media, telling myself I’d start in five minutes.
I could never think of the perfect intro or decide which quote to use. As deadline loomed I’d be forced to come up with something in 20 minutes. Again, wishing I’d started sooner.
I did it with this blog. There was always an excuse for why I couldn’t start right now. I’d get it going one day. When I was sure exactly what it was going to be about. When I was a better writer.
I’m even doing it now. I’m writing a post about procrastination to avoid writing anything too personal.
I’ve read that it comes from a fear of failure and a tendency for perfectionism. That makes sense.
I’m an all-or-nothing person. If I’m going to do something then it had better be amazing or there’s no point bothering.
When faced with a task I get overwhelmed thinking about how to make the end result as good as possible, worrying about whether it will meet my expectations or end up a failure – before I’ve even begun.
But that kind of thinking only hinders progress. You need to try something out, fail if necessary, then find a better way of doing it. Write a sentence, then another one, without worrying about the grammar or how it sounds. Edit afterwards. Then edit again.
The same goes for any other activity.
I still haven’t read War and Peace though. I’ll get round to it one day.