What are foolproof ways you get your butt into gear?

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I’m not talking about motivation, although getting one’s butt into gear does require that. What I’m talking about is hard-hitting, reality check, self-instigated, omg-how-did-I-forget-how-urgent-this-is antidote to procrastination? (A.K.A. how to motivate yourself to keep writing even when you no longer want to.)

When I’m feeling insecure… bogged down by the busy-ness of my thoughts… unmotivated, disheartened, lazy and feeling like procrastinating — ‘leaning back’, if you will — I find myself repeatedly turning to the following three main sources of inspiration because they’re effective at getting me back on the ball. I think they are pertinent to everyone; even if you’re not in a creative field, I think everyone has at least one side project, hobby, or aspiration that these apply to.


1. The Gap

Ira Glass, on what he wishes someone had told him when he was first starting out.

Oh. So. Good.

I was introduced to this during my General Assembly UXDi course earlier this year. The up-and-down surges of fear and anxiety that I wouldn’t make it, was in over my head, made the wrong decision to switch from market research to UX design, overestimated the ease of finding an entry-level UX position, were regular and constant. Ira’s words make me feel more okay with failure and feeling out of my depth (which is quite often why I start procrastinating), and help me deal with self-doubt and imposter syndrome.


2. GoodF&*^ingDesignAdvice (censoring done by me.)

Classic Red Print Good Fucking Design Advice Poster

I found out about this because it’s in Jony Ive’s office. I still chortle when I read this poster.

Gems like “Learn to take some f^&*ing criticism” or “Believe in your f^&*ing self” make me laugh and feel refocused and pumped. “Get over <my> f^&*ing self”? Totally f^&*ing right. Reading these loud and self-assured words makes me feel similar to how I feel when my mom ‘encouratizes’ (encourage + criticize) me — ‘Just do it, deal with it, move on and don’t wallow in the swampy mulch of excuses’ is sometimes the best advice and push that gets me out of my procrastinating funk.


3. Cult of Done Manifesto

The Cult of Done Manifesto

Impact lettering makes me feel intimidated, and the words feel like they are shouting at obscene levels of sound, but that aside, I think every procrastinator, not just writers and designers, can get behind this.


4. And of course, who can pass up a few hard-hitting quotes that instill the guilt fear hope needed to get cranking?

  1. “A year from now you may wish you had started today.” ~ Karen Lamb
    • I have a list of things I want to do before I reach a certain age, and this quote is responsible for getting me started and maintaining two of them: hip-hop dancing, and getting back into piano playing.
  2. “Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” ~ M. Scott Peck
    • This speaks to me on a lot of levels. It doesn’t just remind me to value my time, and be thankful for my time, but it also reminds me to value myself as a person, boosting my self-esteem and confidence.
  3. “Often greater risk is involved in postponement than in making a wrong decision.” ~ Harry A. Hopf
    • I like this one because I’m pretty conservative and don’t take risks. I’ve been told I’m almost a little too prepared, actually (apparently having Neosporin, band-aids, and earplugs in my backpack at all times is not the norm.) But my risk-adverseness can also lead to inaction instead of action, when doing something would be preferable to nothing at all / pushing it off.
  4. “Begin doing what you want to do now.” ~ Marie Beynon Ray
    • A friend of mine takes a task off his list if it’s been there, unfulfilled, for longer than 4 weeks. (Obviously this doesn’t apply to every goal/task he writes down, but it applies to many of them.) His example and this quote reminds me that many of the to-dos I have are past their expiration date. It’s cathartic and freeing to delete the old ones so that I can focus on the ones that are important to me.
  5. “One of these days, is none of these days.” ~ Proverb
    • This quote makes me a little nostalgic, thinking of my teenage years. There were so many times when my mom would ask me or one of my my siblings to do something, and we’d say ‘not now, later,’ and she’d say ‘later means never, so do it now.’ How I dragged my feet and groaned, feeling as if my teenage self wasn’t being respected because couldn’t my mom see I was busy with something and that she was interrupting me? (Teenagers. All the same.) In retrospect, she was, of course, completely right.

So whether you’re procrastinating writing, or procrastinating something else by writing instead, or are not procrastinating anything (superhero status), I hope at least one of these made you laugh and/or feel motivated the way they did for me. What do you find works for you?

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