Last month I purchased the first gift for someone on my Christmas list. This is unprecedented for me. I rarely think about presents until a week or two before Christmas. In my years working as an editorial cartoonist, I would frequently wait until hours before deadline to even start working on a cartoon. I would often try to convince myself it was due to hesitating until the last minute so my choice of a current events topic would be fresh but, more often than not, it was due to an ugly secret of life as a creative: habitual procrastination.
I find procrastination in so many areas of my life, not just creative. “I’ll take care of the leaves in the yard next weekend.” “I’ll put the stack of laundry into the washing machine tomorrow.” “I’ll put the dishes away in the morning.” I’ve gotten to a place in my life where the forgetfulness has almost surpassed the procrastination (thanks, middle-aged brain…) but there are still many opportunities for me to improve my scheduling.
I’m not sure that I’ll ever be great at completely eliminating procrastination. If I’m honest with myself, I have to admit there is a strange thrill in creating during moments of pressure. When I have a week to develop an idea, I have time to entertain an infinite amount of possibilities and never have to settle on any of them. When I have a week or a day or just hours before a deadline, options become limited and focus becomes mandatory. Some creatives thrive in that type of high pressure atmosphere, others need a much less restrictive scenario. There are even some studies that say procrastination can make you more creative.
While I hope to continue on working on not procrastinating in things like laundry and oil changes, I’ve learned to become comfortable with a certain amount of creative procrastination. Sometimes it becomes the very kick in the pants I need to create some really good work.
How about you? What are your ways of handling procrastination in your own life?