My senior year of high school, I took a college English course. One of the requirements for this course was to write an essay every week. I don’t remember what the topics were; however, I do remember each essay had a minimum number of words and I started off the year by putting off writing these essays to the last minute.
My procrastination left me feeling rushed and frustrated when the 11th hour loomed. I also knew, the essays I created were not the highest quality I could deliver.
Even at this young age, I inherently knew I needed to setup a routine to get me started. After a few weeks of struggling to meet the essay deadline, I decided to start writing my essay on Monday afternoon right after school. Once I got home, I setup a space to write in our living room with a comfy chair, table, a pad of paper and a special pen, with no other distractions on the table. The living room wasn’t used very much, so it felt special to be working in this room! I also sat close to the window so I could absorb the late afternoon natural light. Before starting to write, I put the same album on the stereo (am I showing my age?). Then, I would sit down and begin. I would continue writing until I had a finished product, ready to hand in later that week.
Once I implemented this “startup routine”, I didn’t put off writing these essays. Like clockwork, I got them written and turned in. Additionally, I was writing high quality essays, instead of the “fly by the seat of your pants” essays I had started out the year doing.
I’m surprised at what my younger self knew instinctively about overcoming procrastination. For example, I booked the same time every week on my schedule to write these essays and, most importantly, I kept that appointment.
Another thing I discovered was that music provided me with a positive trigger. When the album started to play and I sat down in front of the blank paper, I knew it was time to write. Many, many years later I have used this same technique to write numerous newsletters for Better Than Ever Coaching. Only this time, it’s one song, it’s an .mp3 file and I write using my computer, instead of pen and paper.
I did well in my high school college English class. At the time, I didn’t know I was learning a valuable lesson about how to prevent procrastination, but I did!
Did you like this post? Be sure to check out the upcoming “Get Started Now: 5 Ways to Outsmart Procrastination” workshop for more ways to get started now!