Around the New Year we overwhelmingly heard back from you that we should share more tips and tricks about how to overcome procrastination. Especially after our posts on making creative plans for the new year, and tips on how to stick to them. It’s so easy to make big statements which claim to squash procrastination out of your creative life, but a month or two into the New Year, these resolutions often dissolve into forgotten wishes.
To help curb your procrastination we’ve compiled tips that are based on creating focused and specific goals. While it’s great to do big picture thinking, often to actually make your resolutions a reality it requires extreme details. It’s not very glamorous to be so nit-pickingly particular about personal goals but ultimately, it’s worth it to stick to your creative plans.
SMART Goals have been used for planning big projects for decades. In short, a goal is SMART if it is:
SPECIFIC: Write down exactly what it is and explain it back, out loud, to someone you know. This is the hardest part as it requires you to combine the who, what, where, when, and why of your goal into one neat outcome. Take your time with this step and go into a much detail as you can when writing it down.
MEASURABLE: You need to have a way to track your progress (maybe via a calendar, notebook, or visual progress such as a portfolio or Instagram account) and measure your success. This is key to ensuring you can be accountable for your goal, and if it’s not working, measurability will be a key indicator as to why your goal isn’t working.
ATTAINABLE: This step seems easier than it actually is. Make your goals attainable so that you are setting yourself up for success. Don’t make things harder by creating a goal that’s out of reach. Be realistic and ambitious in setting goals, but make sure you truly believe your own creative resolutions are actually attainable. Ask yourself if it is possible for you to achieve your goal, and if you’re in charge of making these goals happen.
RELEVANT: Sometimes the word “realistic” is used here – but relevant and realistic on the whole translate to making sure your goal makes sense within the current context of your life. If your creative goal is to upload one new Redbubble artwork per week, considering that you’ve been sketching and making art for a couple of years already and are regularly active on Redbubble. But if you’re going for the same goal and you’ve never sketched with a pencil before in your life and don’t have access to a computer regularly – your goal might need revising to be more relevant and realistic.
TIME-BOUND: There needs to be an “end time,” or a finish line for your project. Although it may seem counterintuitive to long term success, make sure your goals have an end point. From the end point you can re-assess and begin another SMART goal.
As we just said above, measuring your progress and success is vital to becoming a non-procrastinator. If that’s the only part of SMART goals that you can stick to, do it. To be able to measure your work against the reality of your output will help inform so many other decisions you can make, about time management, or how you work, or your creative process.
A commenter in our Redbubble community said they wanted to upload one new work to Redbubble every week. This is a great SMART goal as it’s easily measurable – you’ll be able to check it off on a regular basis and you’ll be able to see that you’ve built up 52 at the end of the year.
Instead of making big proclamations like, “I want to start drawing more,” try saying, “I will draw for 10 minutes a day for 2 months and re-adjust my goal after two months have passed.”
As Adam Grant writes in The New York Times in a great article called, “Why I Taught Myself To Procrastinate,” there can be merits of re-thinking your own relationship with procrastination. Adam was a massive pre-organizer and hated procrastination for years, but thought there could be merit in leaving things until the last minute:
“One of my most creative students, Jihae Shin, questioned my expeditious habits. She told me her most original ideas came to her after she procrastinated. I challenged her to prove it. She got access to a couple of companies, surveyed people on how often they procrastinated, and asked their supervisors to rate their creativity. Procrastinators earned significantly higher creativity scores than pre-crastinators like me.”
Be open to the fact that procrastinating might be a vital force in creative ideas for you, and adjust by making up your own deadlines on working with others to make the deadlines a week ahead of schedule. It may take a bit of training, but learning to work alongside procrastination can give you an agile advantage in new creative pursuits.
Don’t go it alone. You’ve got a community of like-minded artists and photographers right here on Redbubble. So get started by sharing your specific, measurable goal with us in the comments below.
Some examples could be:
Or come up with your own.