We all procrastinate. Creative and business writers, along with other professionals, all do this, even though we need to get things done. There’s a constant struggle between procrastination and productivity, no matter what type of work or writing you’re completing.
Why do we procrastinate? What keeps us from getting things done so we can enjoy the end result and our free time?
When it comes to business writing, I find there are three major reasons why we avoid the work:
- We’re waiting for the “right” motivation or the “perfect” mood to strike.
We all have experienced times when we were “in the zone” and the work seemed to flow more easily. It’s understandable to want that feeling when you have a deadline looming. Yet, this can be paralyzing and prevent you from doing any work or writing. When this happens, set a timer for 10 – 15 minutes and force yourself to write something, despite your imperfect mood. When this is over, reward yourself with a short walk or cup of coffee. Then, do it again. Eventually, you’ll be less concerned with getting “in the zone,” and more concerned with writing.
- We demand perfectionism, even at the cost of productivity.
Having high standards is a good thing, but letting them deter you from working isn’t. This type of perfectionism prevents writers from finishing a sentence because every letter isn’t up to their impossibly high expectations. In these situations, I think it helps to reflect on what you really want from the project. Perhaps, you want to produce an innovative way of presenting tired information or create a blog that empowers your employees. Focus on that and trust that you’ll get there, but only after you complete your first draft.
- We’re daunted by scope or demands of the task.
Often, writing projects are simply overwhelming for writers. When faced with a difficult or large assignment, take the time to break it down and create a plan of attack. If you’re still procrastinating afterwards, think about what exactly intimidates you. Is it the size of the project? The amount of time you have to complete it? The pressure to succeed? Once you recognize this, you can take steps to improve your situation, such as delegating.
While there are many more specific reasons for procrastinating, I think most business writing-related procrastination falls under these categories. No matter why you procrastinate, it’s important to remember that writing is difficult. It’s challenging and you can only rely on yourself to get it done. Remind yourself that this is normal, take a deep breath — and get back at it!
What are your strategies for busting procrastination? Do you have any tips for preventing it?