Friday, April 4, 2014

Tackling procrastination: Taking real breaks - I'm very busy doing things I don't need to do in order to avoid doing anything I'm actually supposed to be doing.

Procrastination is killing my income. I'm at a point now where I am getting so many offers for work that I have to turn some of them down. But I could do more of that work if I wrote more efficiently and didn't waste so much time doing other things just to avoid having to write.

I'm going to attempt to tackle the problem head on by trying to establish one new constructive habit at a time -- which I will write about here to reinforce my commitment and in the hopes that it may be useful to other writers who also struggle with procrastination.

I'm reading a book called The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer's Block, and my first attempt at a bite-sized new habit was inspired by something I read there:

Take breaks away from the computer.

When I take breaks from writing (which includes when I first sit down at the computer to work but find myself doing "just a few things" first), I usually read my email, or pull up Google News and start websurfing, or play games (my current favorite is Mahjongg Dark Dimensions), or read and respond to forum posts -- all of which cause me to completely lose track of time.

These are all enjoyable and sometimes even useful activities. The problem (besides the amount of time they take up) is that they are not real breaks from writing because they involve the same mental "muscles" that writing and researching use. They also don't do anything to relieve the eye fatigue, muscle tension, and brain fog caused by sitting and staring at the screen for hours.

The solution: When I'm not writing, get up and move away from the computer. Do something that's refreshing for eyes, body, and mind. My hope is that this will give me more energy to write -- and if  it helps cut down on the huge time sucks caused by web surfing and forums, so much the better.

Have you tried this yourself? Do you think it will work?


  1. Actually, I do think it works. It is how I work myself. I am usually only at the computer for around 20 to 30 minutes before I get up to do something else for a few minutes. This "rule" is true both at home and at work. At home I can go out into the patio and look at the flowers or play ball with the dog for a few minutes. Or I may have to get up and fix something for dinner or lunch. At work, I am at the front desk, despite my recent promotion to "Administrator", which means I am constantly distracted by the telephone, visiting clients and my boss who is quite distractible....(okay, that word doesn't exist!). So, yes, get up every 20 to 30 minutes and do something non-virtual (make a cup of tea, wash the dishes, take the dog out to pee, go see if that combine harvester is going to be finished to turn over to the new owner next week....), it will break your mind from the bluish screen and the electronic "world" that seems to lie behind it!


  2. That's a great idea to limit sessions at the computer to 20 to 30 minutes each. I think I get hypnotized by the screen, and the time just flies by without my being aware of it. If I got up every half hour or so, even just to stretch for a minute or two, I think that would help to break the spell. I'm going to try setting a timer to remind me to get up. Wish me luck, though! I have tried similar things before, and then I would forget ...


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