There’s so much to do but a Star Wars marathon, not blogging, is tempting. Why? Maybe I’m tired and hell yeah I really deserve it? Or, perhaps, closer to the truth, something on my to-do list means reaching out or taking my blog to the next level. For me, this is classic procrastinating and a major cause of inaction. Here, I explore perhaps the real reasons for procrastinating on your history blog and how to beat it.
What is procrastinating?
‘to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring.’The Cambridge English Dictionary
This is partly true.
At school, I put off maths homework because I hated it. But, what this definition leaves out is the word ‘fear’. I found maths incredibly hard. I dreaded the humiliation of getting it all wrong and failing my exam.
Now, some coaches say if you’re procrastinating on your history blog then you’re making excuses and ‘you just don’t want it enough’ because if you did you’d find a way. There is some truth in that. Be honest about being a blogger and ask questions like ‘Am I blogging in the right niche?’ or ‘do I really want to do YouTube videos?’
History blogging is supposed to be the opposite of unpleasant or boring – if yours isn’t, think about making a change. If you’re confident in your topic before we get into the practical tips, it’s time to go deep. Ready?
Are you self-sabotaging your history blog through procrastinating?
For many the intensity of fear goes beyond ‘unpleasant.’
Fear will cause us to never start our dream history blog because we’re not a ‘proper historian,’ never hit publish in case our writing isn’t good enough or to search for perfection in case a post doesn’t look how it ‘should’. All of these are forms of self-sabotage wrapped up with a procrastination bow.
Procrastination is dangerous as it zaps all your energy. The emotion, intensity and guilt you put into procrastinating over blogging often far outweighs doing the unpleasant or boring task or facing your fears.
So, you need to think about what you’re telling yourself and why.
Identify your inner critic. Give it a name and have a chat
Sounds strange I know, but you need to know the cause of your self-sabotage. The only way to do this is to acknowledge it’s there and what it truly is.
In all honesty, you will not stop your inner critic from popping up forever because you’re human.
If you’re doing something that makes you emotionally vulnerable, say it has an uncertain outcome, then self-protection will kick in and it will do everything it can to stop us from doing it.
A favourite method for self-protection is to use the inner critic. Here are some things you may tell yourself:
- I’m not good enough
- It’s not the right time
- I don’t know enough yet to write this
- I’m not a web-techie person
- I don’t have enough time
- My blogging set-up doesn’t motivate me to write
- I’m too tired for blogging right now
- I need to do one more course
- I don’t have the equipment or software I need to make it look good yet so I’ll wait.
The trick is to acknowledge the inner critic, even give it a name, and learn not to listen and push on anyway. If you acknowledge where the self-sabotage is coming from you can begin to address it. But, be honest. If the issue is emotional don’t think getting a new desk lamp so you can write in an evening is the answer. You need to dig deeper for the truth.
You can’t have exhilaration without fear
I love this saying : )
Self-sabotage manifests itself into fear, anxiety and then procrastination. It could be fear of failure, anxiety of rejection or the fear of people knowing how well or not you did? But, you can only succeed and do well if you do something.
I spent the first year of university thinking I shouldn’t be there. My A Level results were poor. I didn’t get the points I needed and it took two nerve-wracking days before they let me in. Four years later I was stood on a stage in a cap and gown with a Masters Degree. I don’t say this to boast, just to say what’s possible. My inner critic popped up all the time (and still does) but I pushed through the fear and just did it anyway.
But, I’m thinking like me, you know the theory and what would really help are some practical tips. Am I right? Well, here goes.
6 Top Tips to Stop Procrastinating
One: Don’t break off for anything (and I mean anything)
Get rid of distractions – switch your phone notifications off, close your tabs and go to full screen. Then, use the time you have to full effect. You can set a timer or try the Pomodoro Technique to give you a structure.
Unless, it’s a major emergency, do not leave your chair or your keyboard and do not let your mind wander onto other tasks. Naturally, as part of procrastination, you will tell yourself something else is more important. Take a breath. Acknowledge it isn’t true and keep going right through to completion.
If you can, fully complete the task you are procrastinating about otherwise it will be waiting for you next time and you’ll start the process again.
Two: Create the right environment
For reasons I do not understand I cannot work on a Saturday. I have zero creative ideas, my words don’t flow and I even clunk my way around the keyboard more than usual. So, unless it’s urgent I don’t bother. I also don’t bother around 3:00pm, I can’t work in slouchy clothes or without make-up on and I’ve never been an all-nighter type.
Being a classic introvert, I can’t work around lots of people (a busy coffee shop – seriously!) or noise. By now chances are a) you think I’m a bit weird and b) you’ve realised you’ve got your own set of quirks.
Analyse the environment you’re currently trying to blog in. Assess it under noise, distractions, light, hot/cold, time of day, location, desk set-up and personal comfort. Is your environment helping you or hindering you? Then, if you can, have a permanent blogging set-up ready to go. Our brains work better off visual cues – laptop on the desk, notepad open to your next outline, mug ready for coffee. If you make something easier and less effort you’re more likely to start.
Three: Start small and do the thing you fear the most first
Just a little nudge can start the ball rolling from thinking into action. Don’t tell yourself, “I’ve got to write five blog posts today” maybe start with a quick outline or completing a paragraph (never the opening one) on a part you find easy. Another tip is start a mind map. Just pick up a pen and get ideas going away from that computer screen you’re staring at!
And, do the thing you fear the most first. If it’s mind-numbingly boring, stick some music on and set a deadline. If it’s unpleasant or scary, there’s comfort to be found through resolution. In short, just get it out of the way quickly.
Four: Know when you’re hiding
It’s important to recognise your unique ways of procrastinating when it happens.
I procrastinate through excess learning, research and planning. Research can be never-ending so it is the perfect place to hide and delay any potential ‘failure’ or mistake.
Sometimes I will believe research and planning are good things for my blog (and sometimes it is) but often it’s also a way to keep me in ‘motion’ mode (e.g planning a post) not ‘action’ mode (writing and hitting publish on a post).
If this sounds familiar, try the ‘just in time’ method. Think what do I need to do right now so I can either start or move my blog forward. By acknowledging what can truly wait until later you’ll remove the place to hide.
Five: Ask for help
Sometimes the best antidote to procrastination is to be open about it. Don’t suffer in silence and end up wasting a lot of time. If you’re procrastinating because you find a blogging task hard ask for help, join a Facebook group (like mine : ), or drop a DM to a fellow history blogger (we’re a friendly bunch).
Six: Be true to yourself
There’s every chance you may be procrastinating not because you fear failure but because you just don’t care enough. There, I said it.
Perhaps you’re blogging on the wrong topic. Maybe you shouldn’t have a blog at all but a history podcast. Are you on Pinterest, because everyone else is, but it bores you putting pins together for little return.
It’s time to get honest. If you’re persistently procrastinating over the same task either cut it out or pivot (to use the jargon).
Blogging is meant to be creative. Don’t force yourself down a road that isn’t true to your passions.
So, are you procrastinating on your history blog? What do you procrastinate over? Or, what are the tell-tale signs you’re starting to procrastinate. As always, I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below or get in touch.