We’ve all wasted quite a bit of time in our lives because of procrastination. If you’re a blogger and can’t stop wasting time when you should be writing, here are a few ways to fix it.

How to shake yourself free of your procrastination habits
How to shake yourself free of your procrastination habits.
Photo by Pedro da Silva on Unsplash

Want to hear a secret? This article took me all day to write. Not because it was long, or because I had to do substantial research, but because I had about a hundred tabs open and I couldn’t write anything for the life of me.

Procrastination is a huge problem for a lot of writers. It’s even more frustrating because it’s something that should be under control, and yet it seems impossible to stop procrastinating. If you’ve caught the procrastination bug like me, here are a few ways you can hack yourself into being productive.

Admit It’s Not Writer’s Block – It’s Procrastination

I’m not saying writer’s block isn’t a real thing. It is, and everyone has a different way of handling it. But there’s another breed of writer’s block, which is more voluntary. We pace around our living rooms, complaining about having writer’s block when really we have plenty of time and ideas. The truth is it’s been a rough morning, and we don’t feel like writing that day.

I admit to being guilty of this many, many times. Now that I have a job where I have to write every day, I’ve made a new rule for myself: if I haven’t tried to write, as in physically sat down and tried to put pen on paper or words on a screen, then I haven’t earned the right to call it “writer’s block.” It’s procrastination, and I need to do something about it.

The primary solution to this sort of procrastination is to stop making excuses, sit down, and at least try to start writing. If it’s actually writer’s block, you’ll know soon enough. The main thing is, at the bare minimum, to make an effort to write.

Develop a Writing Routine to Avoid Procrastination

A street sign that says Now and points in one direction, while Later points in the opposite. Included to show that procrastination can lead to you doing the things you want much later than you'd like.
Get your writing done now to get to what you want to do later.
Photo by geralt on NeedPix

An effective routine will help you figure out the writing conditions that work for you. In Gail Godwin’s excellent essay “The Watcher at the Gate,” the writer talks about one universal procrastination method for writers – fretting over how, when, and where you should begin writing. She likens this habit to a nagging “watcher” who insists on being bribed with anything from coffee to alcohol to shut up and let you write.

Of course, it’s important to realize that obsessing over writing logistics is itself a form of procrastination. Sometimes the answer is to ignore Godwin’s “watcher,” get over yourself, and start writing. But sometimes getting comfortable actually does help. There’s plenty of evidence that human beings are at their most productive when they reach an optimal level of stimulation. Reaching that level can make a huge difference in your ability to write.

Finding a good routine can help you reach that level without having to fret about it every morning. Once you know that you do your best writing in the morning, after your first cup of coffee, with whatever type of music you like, you can do that every morning like clockwork. That way, you can avoid having to work out the logistics of where you’ll write.

Set Deadlines and Rewards to Avoid Procrastination

In “The Watcher at the Gate,” Gail Godwin also mentions deadlines. Deadlines, she says, are another significant way to get the watcher at the gate to shut up and let you do your thing. If writing becomes imperative, procrastination isn’t an option.

One problem with deadlines, if you’re a chronic procrastinator, is the lack of actual reinforcement. It’s like the old Frog and Toad joke. They put the cookies in a box so they have to stop eating cookies – but, of course, they can always just open the box. Nobody’s preventing you from breaking the deadlines you’ve set, and most of us realize that on some level.

One way to circumvent this is to reward yourself for meeting deadlines. Tell yourself you can go for a walk, have some ice cream, or have your fourth cup of coffee (I may have a problem) when you get to the end of the page you’re writing. This helps you find an external motivation for writing, and rewards help you associate “Getting It Done” with pleasurable things. If you think this sounds like Pavlovian conditioning, that’s the idea. Sometimes the human brain plays nasty tricks on its owners, and the only thing you can do is resort to basic psychology.

Procrastination is a significant problem for a lot of writers. If it’s become a habit for you, procrastination may seem unavoidable. However, there are a few ways to trick yourself into getting your work done. If you struggle with procrastination, give one of these strategies a try.