Posted 21 January 2021
Written by failsafe zine

Three exercises to help you overcome procrasti-struggle

Procrastination. It’s the arch enemy of productivity, and it takes many forms – from a new interest in cleaning, to entering an epic scroll-hole on your phone. It can get the better of anyone, at any time, so it’s best to be prepared! We look to the team behind failsafe zine for guidance.

Illustrations from failsafe by Naila Tasnim

We’ve all been there. You feel charged up with exciting possibilities for your work – new projects, new contacts and productively zipping through a to-do list. But then: Procrastination strikes. This distracted state can hit us at the worst moments; even when you were genuinely looking forward to the task at hand. There are so many reasons why this can happen, but aside from obvious distractions, one of the biggest can be a fear of failure.

For the team behind failsafe zine, this is a familiar feeling, and something they want to support fellow creatives through, to help combat it. Made up of eight emerging creatives, the team have put together a handbook that embraces failure, to help normalise it. Here, in an extract from the zine, Naila Tasnim and Marcella Chan share three helpful ways that we can beat the ‘procrasti-struggle’.

Mind your mind!

As artists, we have a tendency to be incredibly self-critical: Negative thought patterns, a lack of self - confidence, anxiety, and even excessive procrastination can arise from deep - rooted issues that most likely won’t be improved by a few tips from a zine. That said, we hope some of these tips can help you get through bouts of procrastination!

Disclaimer: We are not mental health professionals, and where possible, we highly encourage you to seek out professional mental health services like therapy.

Procrastination is a common part of human behaviour and it has nothing to do with ‘laziness’. We can even find ourselves procrastinating over creative activities we genuinely enjoy doing. There are a host of reasons why one might procrastinate. Maybe it’s because:

  • The task you’re procrastinating over feels out of your control?
  • You’re a bit impulsive and prioritise fun things because they give you that dose of serotonin?
  • You’re subconsciously afraid of failure or disapproval?
  • You lack self-confidence?

Or maybe, you’re just really damn tired. Here are some exercises to help you get through the procrasti-struggle:

1. The 5-minute rule

Make your habits as easy as possible to start by breaking them up. Tell yourself that you’re going to do something for just five minutes, and make sure that you focus as intensely as you can on it for those five minutes.

The idea behind this is that, once you’ve started, it should be much easier to continue doing it, especially if it’s something you already enjoy doing. If that feels forced, then tell yourself you’re going to stop after five minutes.

2. Adjust your assumptions

Instead of thinking:

“I must do things perfectly.”
“I must not fail.”
“I can’t have others think poorly of me.”
“If I put my work out there then others will think badly of me.”
“If I try things, then my inadequacies will show through.”
“I can’t do things when I’m stressed or fatigued.”

Try thinking:

“Imperfection is part of being human."
“Doing things imperfectly doesn’t always lead to failure or disapproval.”
“On the whole, I do things well and don’t get judged poorly.”
“I can tolerate not doing well or receiving some criticism.”
“Stress often decreases if I tackle things step-by-step.”

3. Practice tolerating discomfort

If you detest discomfort, you can become ‘discomfort-driven’. In other words, your discomfort will end up guiding your behaviour.

Something that can help is to adopt an attitude like: I don’t like discomfort, but I can stand it. Sit with it. Your discomfort is like a wave; it’s temporary, it doesn’t go on forever, and at some point, will slowly subside.

If your discomfort stems from perfectionism, practice doing things imperfectly. Aim for a ‘good enough’ job and purposely try to generate criticism from others. Practice being able to tolerate it.

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failsafe wants to make sure young creatives can access their zine free of charge, so a digital version of their first issue is available at failsafezine.com.

Their latest print run has recently completed, but if you do want to get your hands on a physical copy, fear not! The team are planning a scheme where you can

‘Buy a Zine to Gift a Zine’. Follow them on Instagram or join their mailing list to make sure you don't miss out on any of the details.

A spread from failsafe; illustration by Elizabeth Anibaba

Written by failsafe zine