I love the irony of how I procrastinated writing this post. As much as I enjoy blogging, there is one thing I will always dread. Starting to write. It's not even the actual writing that I hate. It's making that initial decision to just start.
One second it's "I got this. I'm gonna get some shit done."
Next it's "Mmm wait, you know what I haven't done in an hour? Checked the pantry."
Which turns into "Ohhh is that a box of vanilla Oreos?" (Yes, I have a weakness for the vanilla flavor, don't judge).
Which finally ends up as "Ohmygosh, why did I just eat 12 of these damn things?! I'm too sick to write now. Time to watch Game of Thrones."
I'd rather do anything than start writing. And as much as I wish there was some magic button to solve that, there isn't, and there never will be.
What I have figured out, though, is what motivates me to suck it up and start working anyway. If you have a bad case of what I like to call "Blogcrastination" (I was really hoping I was the first person to come up with that. Turns out I'm not.. *sniff*), here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Find out what's causing you to procrastinate.
I find that pure laziness is rarely the case when we procrastinate doing something we love (which I'm assuming you love and care about your blog, otherwise, why would you be here?). Instead, I think there's a deeper reason. When you figure out what exactly is causing you to procrastinate, you can then take action to fix it.
I discovered that there were two main things that held me back from even starting my blog:
1. I was afraid of failing.
2. I was waiting for perfection.
If you're afraid of failing...
First off, get rid of the mindset that mistakes are failures and that they're the end of the world. They're not. They're learning experiences.
Your mistakes are what shape you as a person and give you valuable knowledge for future reference. They teach you what does and doesn't work. If things don't turn out the way you wanted, make note of what you can change for next time.
- No one commented on or shared your post? Ask yourself this: Are you providing valuable, high-quality content? Do you have easy-to-find social sharing buttons in place?
- Are you unhappy with your branding? Invest some time in learning a program like Photoshop or invest in a brand designer.
- Did your writing sound stiff and unlike you? Imagine you're only writing for your ideal reader next time (and every time) you write.
Take every mistake or shortcoming and think of what you can do to improve for the future. What new skills can you learn? Who can you go to for help or advice? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. Mistakes aren't things to regret. They're how you grow.
If you're waiting for perfection...
It's important to realize that no matter what, you have to start somewhere. You will never improve or get anything done at all if you're always waiting for perfection.
As my friend Tenns over at Bliss & Faith says...
"An 80% solution is better than a perfect one that never comes to fruition."
2. Keep your WHY in mind.
Go back to the whole reason why you started your blog in the first place. If you haven't started one yet, then there's obviously something that's motivating you to begin. Hold it close and let it drive you.
- What is the purpose of your blog?
The purpose behind your blog is what will shape and direct it. What made the idea of becoming a blogger so appealing to you? Is it to pursue your passions? To promote your services or products? To build your own community? A combination of these or more?
- Who is your blog for?
Every blog needs an audience. In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to cater to a very specific type of person. Who is it that you can and want to help MOST? What's their personality like? What are their goals? Their needs and wants? How do these things align with your own?
- Why is all of this important to you?
Maybe you want everyone to see the positive side of life, so you want your blog to be focused on positivity and self-care. Maybe you want to share your skills on how to create incredible designs. Maybe you want to take others on your travels and pass on the knowledge you've gained. What is the mission behind your blog and why is it important?
- What are your future expansion plans?
Where do you see you and your blog in 6 months? A year? 5 years? Do you want to turn your blog into a profitable business? Do you want to create your own products or courses? Do you want to start a team with other creatives? Setting goals and keeping them in mind is what will motivate you to to learn, grow, and expand.
3. Set a due date + hold yourself accountable to it.
Sometimes a healthy dose of pressure is just what the blog doctor ordered. But there's a smart way to go about doing this to make sure that you're not sacrificing quality in order to meet a deadline. The last thing you want is to wait until the last minute and rush to get everything put together in time.
I've been so guilty of this in the past, and while I managed to finish everything in time, it's a stressful situation you don't want to put yourself in. And on top of that, your quality could greatly suffer depending on how long you put it off, which damages your reliability as a blogger.
This can all be avoided if you plan ahead.
Assess what you'll need to do from start to finish. Will you need to...
- research specific information?
- buy supplies?
- keep track of analytics or other stats?
- interview someone?
- take photos or screenshots?
- record audio or video?
- create downloadable content?
- design graphics or new web pages?
Having these things outlined from the very beginning will lower the chances of any "fun" surprises popping up further down the line. Schedule individual tasks on specific days to give yourself plenty of time to prepare everything.
4. ANNIHILATE any and all distractions.
Okay, maybe that's a little too intense. Gently turn off the TV and lovingly cradle your phone as you move it to another room or whatever it is you do. Make sure there's no possibility of these things interrupting you.
For me, that means disabling my internet connection and shutting off my phone entirely. Gotta get rid of the temptation to look at those cutesie cat videos, ya know? (Actually, no. It's usually Markiplier videos. The guy cracks me up.)
Sometimes even our everyday surroundings can become a distraction.
When this happens, ditching them for a new location can work WONDERS. Whether it's going to a coffee shop, a library, or some other location, taking your work somewhere else might be just the thing you need. Personally, I also love going to Denny's. Pancakes, hash browns, bacon AND blogging? Oh yes.
It could be that all you need is to move to a different room or sit outside to get some fresh air. There are so many different possibilities here. Find out what setting works best for you and your working style.
5. Defeat the dreaded blank, white page.
Ahhh, the blank page. Few things match the horror of this sight, am I right? If you haven't a single clue on where to start, I'm about to give you some advice that might sound kinda snarky, but it works, I swear.
Literally write "I don't know what to say."
Write it down and leave it there. Keep writing that or whatever thought is currently going through your head at the moment and don't stop.
To give you an idea of what I mean, here's part of my pre-post writing for this post:
"This is so frustrating, I have no idea how the heck to begin this stupid post. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I know I need to get it done because I've made a commitment to doing this today. I know I need to do it, I just don't know where to start. I still need to write that email and I reaaalllly want to have some free time for a video game or something this evening, so I need to get this done so I can do that. Why am I writing this post? I want to help people take action and get started instead of waiting around, but how do you do that? oh man I love the irony of how I procrastinated writing this post."
See what happened there? I led myself right to the line I'd end up using as my opener.
The reason why this is so useful is because it gets your fingers moving. You're putting words on the page so you don't have to face that blank page anymore. You have something now. You've got a paragraph, or three, or ten, or however many it takes you to find your direction.
DO NOT STOP WRITING.
Don't pause or go back to edit anything yet. You're just getting words out and easing back into the flow of writing. You can delete the pre-post stuff later, but now isn't the time.
Whenever I'm stuck, this method works every single time. And the best part? It doesn't have to turn into the exact post you thought it would be. I thought this was going to be a post on newsletters, but turns out I'll be saving that for another day.
6. Know when to quit.
Wait, what? Isn't this post all about how to get things done?? Sure is!
But some days you might not be feeling it at all. I've been there before. I get restless, I start to freak out...it's a fun time. Then the more I try to force things, the crappier my work gets and the crankier I feel. Pfffft, aren't these word things supposed to come out easily? What's the matter with this keyboard?
Sometimes a quick break is enough. Go out for a walk, read, or anything else that helps get your mind off work for a little while. Other times, it might be best to give yourself the day off.
You need to know when it's time to give your brain a break and let it relax. If you're stressed, worried, or trying too hard, things just aren't going to turn out like you want them to.
Whitney from The Common Great has an amazing post and free workbook on how to treat yourself better when you're your own boss. It was a HUGE eye opener for me.
7. Know when to keep at it.
On the other hand, if you quit every time things get a little tricky, you're never going to finish a single thing. There's a balancing act involved here. You need to find your sweet spot.
Don't be afraid to experiment and try things out to see if they work. I can talk about this all day, but ultimately you have to learn for yourself what produces the best results for YOU.
Keep at it and don't give up.