Sometimes, we procrastinate doing even the things we love. Art is no exception. The decision to stop procrastinating is the first step to changing your life. Your determination is vital for breaking this sneaky habit.
If procrastinating is preventing you from creating art, it can leave you wondering if you even like drawing anymore. Creating, once a source of relief and satisfaction, turns into a source of stress, as happed in my own struggle with procrastination.
Don’t give up. Procrastination happens to everyone and can have far-reaching life consequences. It’s worth it to break this habit. With determination, anyone can do it. To best succeed, it helps to have a creative routine to empower you to make more art.
Overcoming procrastination is all about you and your dedication. Not all strategies will work with every personality though. While these strategies are the ones I find most helpful, if something doesn’t work for you go ahead and try something else. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to stop procrastinating. So explore a little and figure out what works best for you!
If you find yourself slipping and procrastinating even after you’ve promised to stop, don’t beat yourself up. Since it’s a habit you’ve formed over years, it’s easy to fall into procrastination without even realizing it. Instead, notice that you’ve started procrastinating and encourage yourself to stick to your escape plan.
Forgiveness will help you on your journey more than a guilt trip.
Examine your behavior
Noticing when you’re procrastinating necessary if you want to learn why. Next time you find yourself procrastinating on a task, reflect on your feelings by writing them down. Ask yourself why you’re feeling this way. Taking note of these details enables you to come up with a plan.
This is the information gathering stage, so you can set up a successful exit strategy. You can focus on the underlying issues after you recognize a pattern to your procrastination.
If you find yourself procrastinating on a few specific art projects, then it could be because you don’t really know what to do next. Finding ways so you’re continuing to progress on your art projects helps build the momentum and self-confidence necessary to stop procrastinating.
Have realistic expectations
It’s better to overachieve than underachieve. If you can’t achieve the goal, of course, it’s going to cause you anxiety and lead to procrastination. A helpful way to prevent this is by setting goals that are significantly lower than what you’d like to achieve, so you can meet them with ease.
Perfectionists have an especially difficult time overcoming procrastination since their goal is perfection—and that’s impossible to achieve. Make goals based on an honest of your abilities and capabilities. Likewise, make sure your expectations for yourself aren’t too high or demanding. If you haven’t picked up a paintbrush in years, of course, you’re not going to be able to paint as you imagine.
Again, this one requires realistic expectations from yourself to be effective. Finding the balance between deadlines that keep you both motivated and are easy enough to meet is necessary for deadlines to be effective. If you can’t meet your deadlines they’ll be meaningless and weigh you down.
Figuring out how fast you work is a challenge, so be flexible when you’re figuring what works for you. Especially if you’re experimenting with a new medium or even different brands of materials, factors like drying times and understanding how the medium works may take longer than you think. So leave enough time to achieve all that needs to be done, without having to sacrifice quality.
Break down art projects
If you have a complex work of art to complete, make sure you know the steps to get there. Sketch it out and really plan it. Think about what you need to do first, second, third, fourth, all the way to the last step.
This will help you realize the starting points and milestones in your progress. While I find that there are often unforeseen detours, at least having an idea of where you want to go is important so you can stay on track. For most art projects, it’s difficult to break it down step-by-step, so try breaking it down by time.
Working in short, timed intervals and taking frequent breaks helps keep your brain focused. Twenty-five minutes is a good starting point, but find what works for you and remember: even a small amount of time is better than none at all.
Focusing on rewards is a great strategy. Since procrastination is all about relieving stress to feel good, it’s one of the most effective ways to stop procrastinating. One way of doing it is simple: if you work for X amount of hours, you can have a treat afterward. Another way is just by making a checklist and scratching things out.
The most effective reward for me is simply acknowledging my accomplishments, even if they’re small. I just try to push myself a little more the next day. I find that when I’m struggling, it’s the most important time to appreciate my efforts. Even if I wish I had done more, I just decide to push myself a little more tomorrow.
By reflecting on how much you’ve accomplished, it’ll increase your motivation and decrease your tendency to procrastinate. Hopefully, you’ll be excited and can’t wait for the next day.
If one reward system doesn’t work for you, try another one! Keep experimenting until you find out what best fits you and your personality.
One of the hardest parts is getting started. For most people, once they get started it’s easy to keep going. The problem is getting started. So tell yourself you’ll work for only five minutes. Once you start, you’ll probably discover that you actually love painting and it’ll be no issue to keep going.
Put your artwork where you can see it—a visual motivator. Make starting is as easy as possible. Have a devoted work area and keep your art supplies easily accessible. Be sure your workspace has space to work. If you have to clean off the desk before painting, you might get swept away and find yourself at the end of the day, organizing your shoes by color—all without ever having painted.
Mindfulness is just focusing the mind on the body, usually through practicing meditation. It helps us realize what our body is doing when we’re doing it. Since we usually start procrastinating without even realizing it, this is an important tool to keep track of what you’re doing and how you’re feeling throughout the day.
There’s a growing body of research that points to the health benefits of mindfulness in regard to procrastination. I find that mindfulness helps in every aspect of my life, and it even boosts creativity (HBR). If I were to pick out the one thing in my life that’s the most beneficial, I would say it’s my meditation practice.
If you’ve never tried mindfulness meditation, try to start with five minutes a day. Even a small amount of mindfulness helps me pay attention to what I’m doing and feeling throughout the day.
Build healthy habits
Since stress feeds procrastination, it’s important to address all areas of your life. There’s no quick and easy fix. Healthy habits are essential for effective stress management. Developing a routine goes a long way towards keeping procrastination at bay while at the same time advancing creative goals.
Exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep at night, and building healthy relationships are all important to our overall wellbeing are great additions for a happy and healthy life.
I’ve found that when I work on improving one area of my life, it makes it easier to improve other aspects of my life. By focusing on making more art, don’t be surprised if you find yourself making better life choices as well!