I spent most of 2018 putting things off until the last minute. Between laziness, feelings of inadequacy and comparing myself to others, I skipped out on many missed opportunities.
Procrastination is never going to be one of my finest moments, or any body’s for that matter. It’s a random hard hitting feeling of vulnerability that comes after you look at something unfinished. After vulnerability comes anxiety. And after anxiety comes frantic action based on obligation to complete the project… Usually at the last minute, and very unwilling.
Why is procrastination such a problem?
I mentioned 3 possible reasons earlier, so let’s talk about those.
Laziness: Is the project large? Is the project involved? Do you have to grade a size up/down or trace the pattern? Does it have 30 buttons? Is it for someone else and not yourself? Do promises of completion make you less likely to… Well complete something?
Feelings of Inadequacy: Do you doubt your skills? Does the project require learning a new technique? Is the design complicated?
Comparisons: Are you comparing your skills to another’s? Do you think people will see the small possible imperfections? Do you fear photographing it because you’re comparing it to a more known person’s version?
All of these things happen to all of us at some point in pretty much EVERY project we take on. So how can we change our approach to procrastination?
When it comes to laziness, deadlines can sometimes be counterproductive. The longer deadline you make, the closer to the deadline you start to actually complete the project. So what if we think smaller and more direct? Instead of, I’ll complete this project by April 1st, why not set a list of smaller daily accomplishments for the project? From start to finish, take baby steps everyday, making sure to complete each step the first chance you get. The goal is to counteract laziness with anticipation. Baby steps make you more enthused to do more. You have the goal of doing a small amount but then it’s not enough, you want to do more. Next thing you know you’re halfway done with the project!
It also may be helpful to fulfill the goal as soon as you think about it. Distractions have a tendency to cause us to put things off. You can have a project you intend on finishing when suddenly a better project comes. This can happen over and over until the initial project becomes out in the background and you never get to it.
Don’t put things off. Try to get to harder less anticipated goals first.
Inadequacy and Fear of the Unknown
Inadequacy and fear are different monsters.
One of the greatest tools we can manifest however is our own self confidence. I don’t know why you sew, but I sew for me and nobody else. I remember recently making a chambray shirtdress, I didn’t put the top button at the collar point, I put it below it on purpose. My husband said, “why is the button so low? Shouldn’t it be on top?” I’d known this, but as I worked I found I didn’t want it there. Immediately I got self conscious and asked if I should fix it and then he said to me, “It’s your shirt, it’s however you want it to look. Doesn’t look bad to me”.
You see, we have to learn to differentiate observations and criticism. Observation says, hey I noticed this, tell me about it. While criticism says, hey I noticed this and I don’t like it, here’s how it could be better. As long as you live you will get observations, and as long as you sew those observations will become more and more specific. The key to not feel self conscious about them or inadequate of your accomplishments is simply owning it. So the hem is wonky and the top stitching is uneven, YOU MADE THIS. Own it and rock it like it’s nobody’s business.
Criticism is however, not as simple. You have to decide for yourself how you respond to certain kinds of responses to garments you made. Unsolicited criticism is the ultimate bane of every creators existence but when it’s laced with sarcasm and cruel observations, well that has nothing to do with you, that’s a person trying to tear you down for their own enjoynent. Constructive criticism will always be helpful. The point of all criticism is to apply where you need to, and ignore the personal negative parts.
The most important thing you can do with the unknown is walk into it. And to do that you have to stop criticizing YOURSELF. We all have different talents. Support can only come when you put yourself out there, make mistakes, say oh well and move on. The more you do that, the more you’ll learn your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t put off something because you don’t know how people will view it, go through with it because you see it as great.
Speaking of viewing things a certain way, no two items will look identical if made from two very different people. Comparisons only block creative vibes if not channeled in the right way. Getting frustrated because your look may not look like someone else’s or like the package front or another example on social media will only frustrate you more. A healthy way to compare is to see the differences good or bad and view them as learning experiences. Your handstiching might need improvement, your patience may need even more. You may not have the same machine or tool another may have. You will not always have the same circumstances as another and that is where your unique creation will thrive. Show it off with confidence.
Our differences are where our creativity thrives bringing us together as a community of makers and creators with different viewpoints to give. That is also what makes an artist.
Whether your lacking proactivity, feeling inadequate, or comparing yourself to others, make procrastinating a thing of the past and try your hardest to move forward to action. The only one holding you back is you, after all. 😊
Why do you procrastinate? What hobby or chores are you avoiding when you do procrastinate? Let me know in the comments!