Saturday, March 11, 2017
Procrastination or Proactive?
I'm very good with deadlines - the old day job at NASA/JPL was a place where if a deadline was missed, you might blow a launch window or an entire planetary encounter so....kinda had to meet the due dates on stuff. Mars is there in a certain spot of its orbit around the solar system when it's there, not a day earlier and not a day later. I did contracts, not science, but the principle was the same.We had gigantic systems to track deliverables, both flight hardware and contractual.
All my life, I've found that I do better if I work on something right before it's due, a day or a few days ahead. I need that feeling of urgency to do my best work. The thrill of possible danger and defeat? I don't know, I just require the emotional pressure.
If a project is huge and in multi parts, I may break it down into components and assign each of them its own due date, culminating in the entire thing being ready when needed. We call that the critical path in project management. Certain activities will hold up the entire effort while other things may be nice to have but really don't affect overall success or failure. Being an indie author, I set all my own due dates and there's not too much fallout if I'm 'late'. I do like to keep releasing new books every three or four months so I have to maintain a certain amount of discipline.
For the author interviews I write for USA Today HEA, I have to get in touch with each author a certain amount of time ahead, give them time to answer the pithy questions, leave time for me to ask clarifying or backup questions, write the post and then leave my editor time to go over the column before it goes live. So I have mini deadlines all along the way.
What we have in our family is a problem known as 'dithering'. This happens when too many things show up on my To Do List and they all seem to have equal weight, so my internal deliverables' tracker gets overwhelmed and I can't work effectively on anything. So I kinda do nothing or go off and do something totally not on the critical path of any project. Binge watch "Top Chef" maybe, or go thrifting at my favorite store - fun but not ultimately productive. And I'll feel faintly uneasy the entire time because I KNOW there are things I should have been doing instead.
If there's something I really don't want to do, I'll make myself assign the task a due date and then I will do it on that date. I might reward myself with chocolate later, and I might not schedule anything else stressful for the same day. but usually what I find out is that the item I was dreading isn't really that hard or scary or unpleasant. And it feels so good to cross it off my To Do List!
So I'm proactive about my procrastination....
Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything.