If you’re anything like me, you’ve struggled with getting things done. You may be all too familiar with the feelings of disappointment, discontent, and even despair that grips you after realizing days weeks or months have gone by and you never actually started/finished that project you were so excited about.
In the past couple months I’ve become the most productive I’ve ever been after years of trying to figure out why it was hard for me to get everything done (like starting this blog lol). I’m going to explain one of the reasons why you cant get the things you want done and how to fix it.
There are many reasons why we start procrastinating, but they main thing that starts it is being forced to do something that you do not want to do. We usually start procrastinating around middle school, sometimes before, simply because of how our society works where you start being forced to do things that don’t feel important. In that situation procrastination kind of makes sense… I mean you if you don’t want to do something you’re not going to be excited to start right away, In fact you might resent getting started. But since you’re being forced, you will do whatever it is, but you’re gonna wait till the very last moment that you can start and still pull it off. And lets say something isn’t urgent and someones trying to force you to do it… well that’s definitely not getting done. When you’re a kid, this happens all the time, you don’t have the control over your life so you have to do a bunch of stuff that you don’t think you need to do because no ones explaining why, and if you were a certain type of kid that meant you weren’t doing any of that crap! YOU CAN’T CONTROL ME (my 7th grade self says in my Kanye Voice).
Here’s the problem.
When you do that over and over, it becomes a pattern, an unconscious pattern where you put things off and delay them unless they seem like they absolutely need to get done RIGHT NOW. This pattern is especially destructive for an Artist because working on your edit’s or planning your next shoot, writing that next song is never going to be something that’s urgent, something that needs to be done RIGHT AWAY… Your art is always something you could put off for one more day unlike the bill you have to pay, or that errand you have to run, which is why those things get done but your art doesn’t. So you’ll do those things first and find at the end of they day your’e out of energy so you put that thing that was important to you off until tomorrow… and after enough tomorrow’s it becomes another idea you never actually turned into a reality.
There are 3 steps to overcoming this…
- Having a big enough and clear enough why
- Differentiating between Important vs Urgent
- Creating Structure
The answer really just comes down to creating a structure for yourself, but we need the first two mindset steps in order to come up with the right structure and stick to it.
Major Mindset Change #1
Step one is simple, you need to have a reason to get things done that you connect with emotionally.
You see the reason you started procrastinating was because you could feel that the things people were trying to force you into were not important for you, so in order to create the habit of getting things done you have to feel like what you are working on is important.
My advice to you in coming up with your why is that your why has to be as grandiose and as specific as possible, and of course it has to be true to you. Your why has to be grandiose so that it feels important, so make it something long term and something that affects more people than just yourself. Your why also has to be specific, so that it feels real. You want something so specific that you can imagine and visualize it just as much as you can with urgent things that may come up.
Major Mindset Change #2
Step 2 is to understand that everything that is urgent is not important, and that things that are truly Important are seldom ever urgent (a prime example is your general health). Let me explain… sending someone close to you a random text to say that you appreciate them is not nowhere near as urgent as texting your landlord that your air conditioning isn’t working. But lets say that close person you were gonna text dies in a car accident, all of a sudden you would have wished you sent that text instead of forgetting because you were texting the landlord. Put into perspective that text to someone close to you is waaayyyyyyy more important… but that text will never be urgent, because there are things that are also important that need to be done withing a certain period of time. Something could be higher up in importance but because there isn’t a set time-frame for it, there is never a sense of urgency compared to something that does have a concrete window of time.
This is where Structure comes in…
In your childhood you fought against structure because you were being forced into something that didn’t fit you. But in order to regain control of your life you must enforce structure onto yourself. But a structure of your own design, a home base not a prison. You need to come up with structure so that you are planning to do the important things withing a certain time window so that they don’t get drowned out by all of the urgent things you have to do that way. There are many systems you can use, one I may try in the future is the bullet journal (I’ve heard great things about it), but before i heard about it i just came up with my own system. You can also come up with your own, just make sure that its simple and easy enough that you’ll actually do it. If you try to do too much at once or too soon you will burn out before the structure you planned becomes a habit in your life.
I used a simple to do list:
- As I have Ideas i write them down in my phones notes.
- On Sundays I refine that list to only the ideas i think are worth perusing These are the important things.
- I begin to schedule errands chores and urgent things day by day Monday - Friday.
- I leave the weekend unstructured to give myself a break and time to finish the things that may slip through the cracks that way I don’t have to beat myself up if I miss something here or there on my M-F schedule because I didn’t have time or because something came up.
- I make sure that for every 2 urgent things I have to take care of for the day I have 1 important thing on my list. This (1:2 ratio of important to urgent is mandatory in order to feel fulfilled, 1:1 would be better but i know for many people that’s unrealistic with all of the things that they have to contend with in life, but if you ever let it fall below 1:3 be ready for the depression lol)
- When I started I would only put 3 things on the list for each day so that I wouldn’t overwhelm myself. (over time I was able to add more and more things onto the list per day but if you try to do too much at first you will burn out and if you let that happen the habit will not stick)
- If I i could do all three things on the list I win the day no matter what. (mentally you gotta let yourself have it, reward yourself with something physical too if you need to, you need to feel like you won for the habit to stick)
This is what worked for me so you can try it, or try the bullet journal, or try your own thing. But 100% you need some sort of structure otherwise there’s no way of making sure those important things happen. Create a structure for yourself, or keep hoping and wishing the things you want just appear and see how that work out for you.
If you’re not used to it structure is difficult to adhere to…
So make sure you don’t forget the principles outlined here if you want to start consistently getting stuff done and moving your life and your art forward. Know your why, know what’s important, then apply structure.
I really hope this helps! And when you start to feel demotivated, just imagine yourself on your deathbed having never accomplished any of your dreams. (I’m serious)