Sunday, July 19, 2009

Just Start, Don't Set Out to Finish

Why is it so easy to procrastinate when you have a large writing project in front of you?

It's the enormity of the entire task. Compared to the hours it takes to write a ten-page paper or a major blog article, a few minutes spent here and there on other things seem like no time at all. I'll just spend a couple of minutes surfing the web, checking my email, catching a few extra minutes of TV, and so forth.

Unfortunately, the time you spend on these distractions adds up quickly. Pretty soon, you've beguiled away the morning. Or worse, the entire day.

Instead, think about your big writing tasks in a different way. Just start. Don't think about finishing. Allocate a brief time period (a 30 minute time slot works best for me), and then see what you can do in that time.

You'll be happily surprised with what you've accomplished in those 30 minutes, and with any luck, that first 30-minute segment will lead to another 30 minutes, and then another. Instead of procrastinating, you've made a serious dent in your writing task. Isn't that a more satisfying way to start your day than checking email?

By the way, what are the odds of finishing something if you never start?