Once listening to a talk by a pretty famous artist I heard an idea that has turned everything I believed in upside down: “If you’re trying to avoid doing something, perhaps, you’d better not do that at all”. The speech was referred to drawing, so I quickly associated the point with my life situation and felt confused. How could it be? Even being an artist myself and working in this field, sometimes I feel like avoiding drawing, spending my time differently, choosing another option. I’m a big fan of Art in all of its manifestations. Also, I can be described as a very engaged person, so I like immersing myself in some topics, and once in a blue moon I just start feeling lost and procrastinate. Just imagine: there’s a great chance to contribute to a major project, and it feels like you can deal with it, however, you feel like being engrossed in procrastination, disoriented with the meaning of time. Certainly, you’ll miss the deadline. It can often overcome you at the very moment when you feel like a very efficient person, juggling tasks, finishing one after another, but the most important ones are left for tomorrow. In this case, tomorrow never happens.
Procrastination leads to many different negative outcomes besides those that are on the surface, such as the losses of material benefit, missed opportunities of participating in a variety of interesting projects and unkept promises made to others. For example, being incapable of handling something important may become a reason for various mental factors which can further bring you to a problem of having different psychosomatic disorders, and that’s not the end of the list.
In order to be able to cope with this condition, you should know your enemy. What does affect its flourishing? I would highlight the following: fears and social media. There is a wide range of fears that can have an impact on you: fears of failure and success, the fear of rejection and the fear of not meeting somebody’s expectations. Another well-known and widely experienced amongst art community is the fear of a blank page: when you have no idea about how to start and where your actions would lead to. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, all these fears should be worked through (sometimes with specialists because fears may be connected to your own childhood trauma) and time spent online should be tracked and stay under control.
Efficient work starts with the acceptance of yourself. In some way, it’s a possibility to take into consideration all the components of your “you-ness”. One of the significant leaps solidifying that is letting yourself make mistakes. No one is perfect, and failures are another component of your success. If you can’t make it good, make it bad, but keep up with your job. There’s a way to deal with this process of improving things that I adopted from one of the Russian illustrators — Marina Petrova. She kindly shared her approach with me and I found it really useful. According to her words, she has a simple fear of a blank page with which she manages through creating a number of thumbnails with a pen or a marker (or with anything that was nearby). It helps to keep yourself away from excessive detailing, prevents from striving to make every art piece perfect and boosts your imagination.
Another way to help yourself and improve time management is the Pomodoro technique. The main principles of this method are goal setting, removal of any irritants and working in intervals. It also concerns proper mental unloading, focusing on crucial issues and planning.
For those who work in a more spontaneous way, there is another method of improving your approach - the rule of five seconds (by Mel Robbins). How to stay effective when you’re not able to take a task on? Just as an idea comes up to your mind, you have only five seconds to take action. Otherwise, your brain finds thousand and one reasons not to do that. Do you want to participate in one of Artstaion’s challenges? Start making thumbnails and don’t forget to click on “join the challenge” until your brain felt overwhelmed and tired.
I got another interesting viewpoint from Grigory Lebidko (Russian concept artist) who offered a system in which one unit of time is a skill point (an equivalent of in-game currency that allows upgrading an ability). So, where are you going to spend another skill point? Will it be spent on something useful or on Netflix?
In conclusion, there are plenty of methods to train your discipline and motivation to fight procrastination, but in any case, you will have to choose one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret (Jim Rohn).