During the past few weeks I’ve been working on a huge project of redesigning the Manhattan Arts International website. To meet our deadline I have relied on many lists and have started early in the morning and worked late at night. I make a commitment to launch the website next week and procrastination is not an option. However, to my disappointment and frustration I had to remind several artist members to send us their new materials even though they were notified well in advance. They reminded me that procrastination is a habit that haunts many creative individuals. So, I thought I’d tackle this subject and ask the question: Is procrastination preventing you from achieving art career success? If I can help one artist with this article I’ll be happy.
What is Procrastination and What Do We Know About It?
According to wikipedia, procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time.
Sometimes, procrastination takes place until the “last minute” before a deadline. Procrastination can rear its ugly head in many aspects — from filing income taxes, to paying bills, to applying for grants, to making a doctor’s appointment…
If you are a habitual procrastinator rest assured you’re not alone. Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. For them procrastination is a lifestyle.
Procrastination is not something we’re born with or a trait reserved to certain professions. It is something we learn. It is often a response to an authoritarian, harsh, controlling parent. Procrastination can also manifest as a form of rebellion
According to an article in Psychology Today magazine, “Procrastinators sabotage themselves. They put obstacles in their own path. They actually choose paths that hurt their performance.”
Psychologists point out, those who procrastinate are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.
Some of the reasons for procrastination are: fear of failure; fear of success; fear of change; fear of the unknown; fear of responsibilities; lack of motivation; lack of skill and lack of preparation.
Experts also point out that procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don’t take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking e-mail is almost perfect for this purpose.
What I’ve learned is, generally speaking, the less focused professionally an artist is, the more they tend to procrastinate… I’ve also observed, artists who enter our competitions at the last minute make more mistakes than others and therefore their entries are more vulnerable to disqualification.
How to Avoid Procrastination
“Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
If you want to avoid failure in life and your career, simply decide to avoid procrastination. The pain of trying to finish a project at the last hour is greater than confronting it immediately. If you procrastinate excessively consider hiring a career coach who will keep you on schedule and encourage you to be accountable.
One of my biggest tips is: Finish dreaded tasks first.
Most of us postpone a project we dislike, only to have it hang over our heads worrying about it, feeling guilty about not doing it, and finding excuses not to do it. If you just do it, you will feel a sense of relief.
Often, the dreaded tasks are not as undesirable as we thought and might bring positive results. After you finish a dreaded task, reward yourself with a favorite activity or treat.
Another tip is, focus on what successful artists do who don’t procrastinate. In my article Winning Traits of Successful Artists, I wrote, “Artists who are more productive career-wise understand the importance of managing time. They achieve balance between their personal and career activities. As they become better in managing time, they also avoid procrastination, which is one of the biggest reasons for business failure.”
Confessions of A Recovered Procrastinator
I used to be a big procrastinator until I realized it was causing me too much pain. I learned to adopt much better habits. I arrive at appointments early. I get my articles to publishers a few days in advance. I pay my bills before they are due. I place deadline reminders on my calendar in advance. I rely on making lists upon lists in priority order.
Am I perfect? No, but I’ve learned that procrastination is a habit that can be broken. If you are a sufferer of procrastination there is hope if you want to change.