As a creative person, it can sometimes be challenging to overcome procrastination. I find it difficult to divide my brain-space between more than one project and I cannot bear having UFO’s in my studio! I therefore choose to complete a project before starting another one. I know many people are so keen to start the next art work or quilt that they often pack the previous one away, unfinished! I have worked out some strategies that you might find helpful.
1. GOALS AND DEADLINES
I have found that when I have clear goals and deadlines, it is easier to work consistently. I don’t have that squirrel-brain feeling where things just become too much for me. I break my project into smaller, manageable tasks to make it less overwhelming. I enjoy working on challenges as there is always a set of rules and a deadline. Have you ever thought of joining your local quilting group? It is a great way of getting out of your sewing room or studio and mingle with a community that shares your interest! These groups often have a challenge that you might find interesting.
2. NO DISTRACTIONS
Picture this: Finally you’ve managed to sit down in front of your sewing machine. You’ve got your project, set your deadline and calmed your mind. Peace and quiet, and then…. Your phone beeps, your local grocer is having a sale on potatoes and immediately you start thinking about what to cook the family for dinner and before you know it you’re spiralling away from the task at hand. Does this sound familiar?
When I get started on a creative piece, I don’t like to be distracted so a very nice thing to do is to put my phone on silent and to use the DO NOT DISTURB sign. Only the most important phone calls will come through and I can read my notifications when it suits me. I also avoid looking at distractions such as Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram. When I do spend time on these, I give myself a limit of five minutes otherwise one can spend hours scrolling on social media with no progress
3. BITE-SIZE PIECES
How do you eat and elephant? One bite at a time. Now let’s apply this to quilting…. Once the planning is done, I audition fabrics for the project. I must say, I find this takes the longest in the whole process! I find it very important not to over-think. Many quilters love creating the new quilt top but when it comes to quilting it, they shy away from it. The new quilt gets put on the UFO pile that keeps growing. If you have this problem, why not hand your quilt over to be quilted by a professional quilter? Then when you get it back, all you need to do is to do the finishing touches!
I break my tasks into bite-sized and more manageable steps so that I never feel overwhelmed as that can definitely make me procrastinate. It is easier to start and stick with what I’m working on.
4. SITTING IS THE NEW SMOKING
One of the most important things to do when working on a new project, is to take breaks and rest every now and then. I find by doing this, my body has a chance to relax those muscles that every quilter knows about….those ones in the neck and shoulder area! I always tell my students to relax and stretch regularly. Sore muscles and long hours of working can lead to disinterest in the work and tardiness to complete it. Rest, relax and stretch, stretch, stretch!
5. MISTAKES ARE WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS
In my chats to students and artists, it appears that the stress of trying to do perfect work can prevent them to start (or complete!) creative projects. Please stop being so hard on yourselves! One always has to remember that it is ok to make mistakes. I constantly experiment with new techniques and through that, I develop my own techniques that makes it easier for my students to learn and apply these. We learn through our mistakes. It is more important to focus on progress rather than perfection.
Everybody has their own way of avoiding procrastination and as with everything, it is important for you to experiment and find out what works best for you. I hope you will try some of my methods and hopefully it works! I always love hearing what you’re busy with or the challenges you face in your creative journey. I can’t wait to hear the tips and tricks you use to avoid this nasty habit! Please share them with me in the comments.