How do I stop being lazy, when I should actually be writing, you ask?
In this article you will get some tips to stop porking around and start typing on that computer! Or typewriter. Whatever floats your boat. The trick to beating laziness is taking the first step, getting yourself on board with the system and rewarding yourself as you go.
Let’s dive in.
I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna dare say it… Everyone procrastinates at one time or another. So you went on a 7 day Netflix-spree when you had stuff to write. I’m not going to judge. However, I am going to help.
What you are writing for, specifically, is not narrowed down in this article. It’s more about the problem of being a productive writer. Whether that is you finishing that letter to your mom, getting you essay done, delivering that exquisite report to your boss or finally starting on the book you have been thinking about for years – this will help you stick to typing until the task is done.
A lot of getting to the goal line with your typing is psychological mastery. You have to set yourself up for success by leading your own mind down the right path.
I am a big fan of working smarter. So if you can get your important work done quickly by solving it smarter, and still have time to be lazy, then great! “Just working harder” rarely works out in the long run.
Be honest with yourself
The first step is to take an honest look at yourself. Are you lagging on several important tasks? Do you keep delaying writing by doing other stuff like Netflix, checking your phone and cleaning the windows? The answers to these questions will tell you a lot about your situation.
When you are able to look at yourself clearly, you are ready to move forward. Just remember to stay positive and use this self-reflection as motivation. Being too hard on yourself is pointless, and will make you less motivated. Why should you even try if you are already so dissatisfied with yourself? There would be no point to it. However, don’t worry. Follow along these steps and you will make progress.
Why do you feel lazy, and what are your reasons for not writing?
It is important that you try to recognize the reason you are feeling lazy, or else these tips will simply be a short-term solution. Also, why don’t you feel like writing? Is the topic dull and boring? Or are you simply delaying for the sake of delaying? Recognizing these reasons will help you move in a new direction. If not, after a while, you will fall back to old habits. Because old habits die hard, and if you don’t know the reason behind it, they will be hard to change.
If the topic is boring to the point that you are bored out of your mind, of course you are going to hate writing. But if the writing is your job, then what do you do?
Working on what we are passionate about gives us energy. And laziness is plain and simply a lack of energy. It’s a sign you have been put off your path.
One tip here is to try mixing it up. Write about something you are truly passionate about and transfer the energy this gives you over to the boring task to make quick progress. When you see yourself needing a break, go back to your passion writing to get a boost.
Work smarter, not harder – get your writing done
Sometimes the reason we become lazy is that we feel like we are being overworked and not compensated for our efforts. I know I certainly felt this way back in school. So much work, so little compensation… We can become overwhelmed and feel like we are working harder and harder, but the tasks keep piling on, so what is the point?
The solution, my friend, is working smarter.
If you go to Google docs and activate speech to text, you can start writing with your voice. Genious! Your next assignment can be done by you having a chat with your computer. While it’s not perfect, yet, it’s certainly a good tool to have in your bank.
Can you automate this writing task? Depending on your field and expertise, a lot is up for grabs in automation these days. Not so technical? Well, there are many apps and programs that help you automate a lot of tasks today.
If you are writing emails for example, you can use prewritten templates to make your writing go much faster. A tweak here, and a tweak there – mail at the ready!
Instead of burning the midnight oil trying to get all your tasks done, you will be putting those creative juices to good use trying to solve your writing tasks smarter.
Another way to work smarter is making lists of your prioritized writing tasks and reward yourself as you complete them. It may seem toddler-like and a bit simple, but we are more simple creatures than we like to admit. Even the simple act of crossing out a completed task on a piece of paper has significant effect on us.
Find a rest/reward-system that will get your writing done
I know many people might disagree with me on this, saying: “You should take short breaks often”, “pomodoro is the way to go!”
Listen, I have tried most of it. Sometimes it works great, sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on what kind of a person you are, and what works for you.
I have found that sometimes, what worked great on one project, might not work so great on the next. When I am working on something that I am passionate about, 8 hours can fly by without me even noticing. When it’s more of a begrudgingly, have-to-do-it, not-really-interesting type of thing, 40 minutes a pop can be what gets the writing done without me going crazy.
Find a system that works for you, perhaps even adjust it as you go. One time you might take a break after 20 minutes, the next after 3 hours. A fluid system might be perfect for you. The important part is this: reward yourself after a stretch of work with something that motivates YOU.
Again, what motivates you and I might be different.
For me personally, I find that working 20-minute sessions is too short. Just when I get into my groove I fall out by taking a break. Don’t be taking no break when you are in the zone just for the heck of it!
When your writing is flowing and you are putting those words to digital paper, ride that flow until you hit a natural barrier.
Let’s talk rewards.
If you are all about that chocolate, I got bad news for you. If you get any writing done – you’ll be packing on the pounds!
No, but serious talk: After you have put in the writing effort, in a timed stretch that you planned, reward yourself. That can be grabbing a coffee, watching 15 minutes of a show you like, trolling Youtube, putting away some money for cinema until you have enough for a movie or the occasional chocolate. Yes, that’s right.
Take the first step and start writing
Often, more often than you would think, the absolute hardest part of any process is taking the first step and start. “Trying harder” doesn’t really work out, now does it? You have to start doing, until something becomes a habit.
Since our biggest enemy is sometimes ourselves, we first need to convince ourselves.
By simply making the first step, you are signaling to your brain and yourself, clearly, that you are taking action. You are invested in this.
Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, here are some actionable advice I use to start some of my daily struggles with the writing process:
- To get typing and stop wasting time, just start typing jibber jabber. It will loosen up your inner perfectionist and get your hands moving.
- Fill out your title, your subtitles and then start filling out the most exciting parts.
- Start doing some small tasks that will give your transferrable, productive juices to your writing. This can be making the bed, doing the dishes or taking out the garbage. Use the momentum from completing one task to completing your writing task.
- Don’t be a perfectionist. Some research is enough to get you started, then write from your head. If you are constantly revising your work and looking for more sources, nothing gets done. Write it all out, and then improve it.
Quick wins set you up for productive writing
This is just like taking the first step. The difference is that you aim to start your day off on the right foot. Not your literal right foot.
Sometimes it is tempting to start your day off calmly, easing into it before jumping on the hard tasks. However, those 10 minutes of Facebook in the morning quickly grows into an hour and then 2 hours of checking your mail. So let’s avoid that. Start your day off on the right foot by writing right away.
I always do this at work, first thing, to kick ass right away!
When you wake up tomorrow, I want you to try something. Take your first 15 minutes and work on a written task you can FINISH, or simply make 15 minutes worth of progress on a very important task, knowing you have gotten some solid work done.
This sets you up for success for the rest of the day. By already having a win, you will feel good. You have accomplished something. You are in motion and just created momentum you can build your further writing on for the rest of the day.
Put away your phone to make your writing efficiency skyrocket
You know why, I am not even going to explain it. Just put it away!
Also turn off alarms, mentions, notifications, don’t talk to your office buddy and don’t check Facebook. These are rewards for a GOOD JOB WELL DONE, and you have not deserved it yet.
All these tips are good and well, but they will be useless if you keep checking your phone, sista!
Surround yourself with productive writers
We, as humans, are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. For good and bad. There is a reason your mommy told you that “those people have a bad influence on you”. There is actually something to it. It is why you see seemingly good people turning into a bad leaf after hanging out with the wrong crowd. It is the same reason that entrepreneurs hang out with successful mentors.
The good news for you are, now you know. Use this information to hang out with productive and effective writers. Those who always just seem to slam down pages, and make writing seem like no hazzle at all. You will be inspired, you will subconciously mimic them, and you will pick up tips and tricks they use.
Read books to become an inspired writer
You want to become an effective, inspired and productive writer, right? One of the best ways is to read books. Hey, don’t get me wrong! Websites and blogs are good, but books often contain deeper research, longer, more carefully written language and other treats that you just can’t get other places. Books are your friends.
For me personally, reading a book can really trigger my writing muscle. I usually get a lot of ideas while reading about other peoples ideas.
If all else fails – push through it
We are strange creatures indeed. Sometimes we procrastinate even when there are no seemingly discomfort to doing or solving a task. Luckily, we have the power to temporarily push against our senses.
Note, this is not a healthy or sustainable strategy for beating laziness or becoming a productive writer.
It works when you HAVE to get something done, for a one-time thing. It is an occasional tool to overcome urgent obstacles.
Overdoing this will burn you out faster than the dying lights of the last match you have, standing in the midst of the arctic tundra, freezing your literal or hypothetical cojones off.
Bonus: Allow yourself to be lazy after writing
When you finish your writing for the day, week or the project entirely, you should take some solid time to actively be lazy.
You can relax, chill out and unwind. This is part of your reward-strategy, remember?
Laziness is only really a problem when it stops you from completing your tasks. As long as you are moving forward with your writing and getting things done, you can afford to be a lazy dog from time to time.