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Here’s why I procrastinate and how I’ve learnt to deal with it

I procrastinated writing this blog.

True story.

What was holding me back from doing it?  Maybe it was that I was putting myself out there on a platform to have an opinion on procrastination and feared the judgement?… oh, the irony. 

Put your hand up if you know you have dabbled in the art of procrastination:

Do you put  things off until the very VERY last moment instead of doing the thing you SHOULD do?

Do you beat yourself up knowing it’s happening?

Do you repeat the same pattern again and again?

Do you feel guilty not doing the task?

If you’ve said yes to any or all 3 then know you are not alone! 

Take relief in that. 

To beat my own procrastination I decided to be curious, as we creative creatures are, and delve deeper.

So, you’re probably thinking,“Ok, tell me what’s going on? Why am I procrastinating?”

Why do artists procrastinate? Turns out the most intelligent and most creative people are the biggest procrastinators (woohoo! That’s me right?) BECAUSE intelligent and creative people can think of a myriad of well-thought-out excuses for everyone including themselves (Yeah… that’s me, ha!)

Good news? It means you’re intelligent and creative. Bad news? You have to be more accountable for your gifts. Your wonderfully endless supply of ideas can actually cause overwhelm. 

Procrastination is something that is taught so therefore it can be untaught. Our willpower and worth work in the same way we build muscles. Increased willpower can strengthen our health. We eat healthier, sleep better…the general quality of health increases. We can even beat procrastination! Exciting, right? 

Something important to think about while on this journey of overcoming procrastination is not to confuse it with other things. 

These other things might include;

    1. REST
    2. Rest involves recharging and procrastination involves overexertion. For example, rehearsing all day and coming home to watch a movie is a “restful” action and puts you in a state to recharge.

      Watching movies all day and not working or rehearsing actually makes you feel more tired. 

      Procrastination exhausts us more than the actual work.

      Oh yeah. I’ve felt that. 

    3. LAZINESS
    4. A lazy person is very happy not doing anything at all. A procrastinator wants to do something (like write their first script for example) but is unable to start and so comes the feelings of guilt and then feeling helpless and stuck.

    5. WORKAHOLICS
    6. Being a  workaholic doesn’t mean you never procrastinate!

      Workaholics are actually the biggest procrastinators for relaxation! Have you seen those types of people around that never stop to have a break, or maybe you are that yourself? 

      It can go into the other extreme where people overexert and feel guilty for stopping or the idea of resting means they are “lazy”.

      Remember what I said in point 1. Rest is RESTORATIVE. It recharges you to tackle the next set of tasks or goals.

‘Ok, got it, Kat, THANK YOU! Now…how do I overcome procrastination?’

From a mindset point of view, procrastination is acknowledging a part of yourself that is not fully developed. The concept of stepping into something new is jarring to our ego.

For me, and writing this blog, for example, I am new to blogging and having my words printed for the world to view and critique jars my ego. Makes sense!

Self-limiting beliefs such as,  “Who am I to be great and step out?” may come in. As artists, this contributes to the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ culture. It can even impede us from ever taking risks in our own artistic journey. 

Have you noticed when you feel confident in a task you just do it and move with ease? I’m actually feeling it right now as I’ve been typing away. I see it when dancers step into a dance class with ease versus an actor stepping into a dance class with dread. To the point where they cancel the class instead.

Sometimes just starting something is the hardest step. Classic saying, but true!

When we don’t have the willingness to start, it can come from another self-limiting belief,  “I don’t believe I can”. What is it revealing about yourself? “I am not enough” might be a thought. But that is all it is, a thought. Is it really true?

When we question these self-limiting beliefs we see them through a different lens. 

What if you looked at those fear-based beliefs and unpack them further? Really, they’re just a bunch of perpetual thoughts. 

The undoing begins with your thought and mind. The bullies that carry your life are your fear thoughts! When you have awareness about the “what is happening” then there’s an opportunity to trigger the “how to change it”

From a practical sense, the VA institute suggests the following tips:

  1. Break it down. Divide the project into manageable tasks. 
  2. Get support. Enlist others to help you with your task.
  3. Schedule the time. Dedicate solid time WITHOUT DISTRACTION. 
  4. Dream about the outcome. Visualise how it will make you feel completing the project.
  5. Be accountable! Step out of your comfort zone and just get started.

 

Let’s use the example of delivering a self-tape. This is not a “how to do a self-tape” but rather an example of how to break it down:

  1. Break down the task

    • Read the brief
    • Do research – script analysis 
    • Book a studio/book a reader/book a coach
    • Learn lines
    • Shoot the tape
  2. Support
    • Call agent for guidance
    • Ask professional industry leaders for contacts/coaching
  3. Time
    • Monday 2pm – Work on scene (30min)
    • Tuesday 3pm – Shop for wardrobe (1hr)
    • Tuesday 4.30pm – Work on scene (30min)
    • Wednesday 11am – Shoot tape
  4.  Dream of the outcome
    • Meditation to focus on potential 
    • Feeling proud that you edited and uploaded the project
    • Now, let that all go.. The outcome is whatever it will be.
  5.  Be accountable!
    • Respond to your agent to confirm tape delivery.
    • Texting who you need to get the tape underway and organise dates.
  6.  
    There is a lot to do task wise with any sort of creative adventure, we know it’s not just a matter of clicking your fingers and it’s there. 

    Our careers take years of building with lots of ups and downs. Procrastination is one of the areas that will come to meet us face to face so it’s up to us what to do when we sense it’s happening.

    Oh, and by the way, my “dream of the outcome” was that I just visualised this blog as being read by you. 

    Happy PRO-ACTING!

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