“The only difference between success and failure is the ability to take action.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell
Quick — what distracts you when you sit down to write? It is cleaning your desk, emptying the dishes, or running to the refrigerator? Or do you jump on Facebook, answer your emails, or read a book instead of writing?
Those are all busy actions, not writing actions. Some call them writing “procrastin-actions” or activities which help you postpone actively writing.
Isn’t it time for you to get rid of procrastin-actions?
Try these 5 actions which help you turn procrastin-actions into writing actions and writing success.
Action 1: Discover your procrastin-actions and habits
Write down every action and trigger which helps postpone your writing session. An action is what you do to postpone writing, such as cleaning your desk, or getting lost online. A trigger is what causes you to postpone your writing and leads you to the procrastin-action. Such as not knowing where to start on your writing, thinking you have plenty of time before it’s due, or not feeling like writing.
Everyone has patterns and every pattern can be changed. Before you can change a pattern, though, you must know what it is and acknowledge that it’s causing a problem.
Now that you know what actions and triggers are taking you away from writing, write down what actions or triggers settle you into writing. What is something you do which puts you physically and mentally in the right place to work?
Start doing this activity every time you begin to write. You will develop positive habits for everyday writing. It will become second nature — you do your activity and begin to write.
Action 2: Take 10 to 15 minutes for organizing and clean up
Over organization can be a huge procrastin-action that wastes lots of time. But you need to stay organized on every project daily. The exact amount of time you take to organize will vary upon the size of your writing project, but keep it minimal.
Organizing a new project: Take 10 minutes to break the project into bite-size pieces. Choose a specific action time to organize the new project. This creates an action for your new project without creating a procrastin-action from a different project.
Organize at the end of your day or writing session: Before leaving every writing session, make a physical list of two to three items you need to complete next. If you’ve completed a project, jot down the first two to three steps needed for the next project. Keep this list visible so it’s one of the first things you see when entering your writing area.
Tidy up before you leave: Before leaving your writing area each day, take a few minutes to pick up your space. And you’ll never again have the procrastin-action of needing to clean your desk before you get started.
Action 3: Unplug during your writing sessions
I know, I know — unplug… are you nuts!? What if the school calls or my child texts me or my spouse needs something or…
It would be nice if you could completely unplug while focusing on writing. Many reasons to stay plugged in are valid, and you have to decide what unplugged means to you.
If you cannot completely unplug, you must create habits to stay plugged in yet not distracted.
If you must have your phone on — only answer it for the specific reason you keep it on. Turn off all notifications on non-essential phone capabilities. Learn to glance at the phone without completely losing your train of thought. Give key people unique, identifiable ringtones. And don’t respond if it isn’t the person you left it on for.
Friends and family members who are not part of why you stay connected may need to be trained not to bother you during work hours. Quit explaining that you’re working from home and writing. Tell them your work hours and that you will not be available. Yes, it can be hard, but your persistence in taking your writing sessions seriously will pay off.
Any technology you do not need — turn it off and get unplugged.
Action 4: Have two writing projects at a time — even if one is for you
Yes, it is ideal to work on one writing project at a time, but a second writing project can help you stay focused. When you run into a stopping point, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Instead of stopping your writing session, work on another writing assignment. This will keep you in the writing mode and moving forward. And keep you from getting sidetracked to non-writing activities.
Action 5: Each day, give yourself procrastin-action permission
Once you’ve finished your writing activities, it’s time to reward yourself. You can give yourself procrastin-action permission in many different ways.
Approach your procrastin-action permission as you do your procrastin-action triggers.
Let your permissions be a way to catapult your writing tasks, not distract from them. You can use your breaks or wait until you’ve completed your writing time for the day. Whatever works for you.
The next time you sit down to write and find yourself creating procrastin-actions — Stop! Acknowledge your procrastination trigger and immediately do an action that gets you back to writing.
The faster you get your current project done, the faster you can enjoy the benefits of writing. Such as having time and money to do whatever you want.