This is a guest post from Anne Emerick, author of The Day I Met Dr. Seuss
I’m nine days late writing this blog post.
“Nine days late?” you ask, “for someone who is going to make suggestions on how I can stop procrastinating and start getting more done?”
The truth is, I didn’t procrastinate writing this blog post as much as I tried to write it and failed to achieve the desired affect. You see, I wanted to make the approach I take sound sexy and appealing, so that you, the reader would want to give it a try.
But the truth is the only thing that is appealing about this strategy is that it will propel you towards achieving your dreams and shield you from the temptations of procrastination.
For most of my life I took the jobs and assignments that other people gave me. Occasionally I had a choice. My manager would say, “We can put you on the team to test product A or the team to develop product B. What do you think?”
But I was over forty before I woke up to an enormous truth. If I was ever going to get any GOOD assignments, I had to give them to myself.
Think about it. No one ever is handed the to-do of launching their own business. You’ll never find an ad in the Help Wanted section that will invite you to turn the story that is inside your head into words on paper.
What this means is that YOU have to give yourself that job. Let’s think for a moment about what that means.
Giving Yourself A Job
When you take a job, an assignment, the expectations will be written down. These will include when the job must be done by and any checkpoints along the way. If you need to coordinate other people’s work as part of your assignment, that will be outlined also in the job responsibilities.
You need to follow this same pattern when you give yourself an assignment, which must happen whenever you want to turn your dream into your reality.
Perhaps an example will help you see what I mean.
I decided about two months ago that I wanted to publish a story I had written on Kindle. So I gave myself the job of publishing The Day I Met Dr. Seuss on Kindle and promoting it to a rank of 10,000 (or better) in the Kindle Store.
My deadline or goal for publication was September 1 and the deadline for improving its ranking to 10,000 or better was September 30th. As soon as I wrote these specifics down and started thinking seriously about it, I realized that to publish the story I would have to:
- get a cover illustration and design
- hire an editor for final word tweaking and punctuation
- write up a book description
- add copyright and Author’s Note to the story
And to promote it to a Kindle store ranking 10,000 or better I would need to:
- email family and friends, telling them of free day and asking for their support in the form of a review
- identify high-traffic blogs that accepted guest posts
- query owners of those high traffic blogs about their interest in posts on particular topics
- write guest posts
- get a press release written and distributed
- brainstorm additional promotional opportunities
Now each of these items became an assignment that I was giving myself.
I printed off a calendar for the month of August and September and started penciling in these tasks. Thinking about achieving each step and my story rocketing up the Kindle sales charts, now that was kind of fun. That’s about as exciting as this approach gets.
But once the plan was made and the deadlines for each task assigned, now began the roll-up-your-sleeves and get to work part.
Already in the habit of creating daily to-do lists on most workdays, I now had to check my publishing calendar each morning to see what deadlines were coming up. A couple of times I fell behind and had to rework the calendar in order to keep it realistic. This is not so different than my experiences working for a large corporation, where status meetings often reveal a project is behind and dates need to slip.
It’s rare that the overall deadline can’t be moved. The key is making a conscious decision to move your schedule, instead of just suffering from the demoralizing feeling that you’ve fallen behind.
My own experience is that giving yourself an assignment, writing it down and scheduling it, including the subtasks, is a knockout punch for procrastination. In severe cases of procrastination, you might want to combine creating a schedule with having an accountability partner. Just having made someone else aware of your plan, will further increase your internal pressure to stay on track.
Job, assignment, deadlines; these are all words with a negative connotation. Achievement, success, dream are words with a positive connotation.
Giving yourself jobs and assignments with deadlines will make you successful and allow you to achieve all of your dreams. If the second half of that equation appeals to you: being successful and realizing your dreams, then consider embracing the first half: jobs, assignments and deadlines.
It works for me and many others. Now go give yourself that dream job!
What dream job are you giving yourself?
About the Author: Anne Emerick is author of The Day I Met Dr. Seuss and creator of No-Work Spanish audiobooks, an unusual way to learn Spanish.