Director and motion graphics designer Ninian Doff reveals his techniques for avoiding distraction and getting on with his job
I think procrastination is an important part of the initial creative process. I have all my best ideas whilst riding my bike, so I often justify cycling to get a coffee as part of working. I think if you’re ever stuck on something or feel it’s just not right, its no good sitting at your computer battling it. Go and tidy a room, do the gardening or cook something far too time-consuming and the solution will pop into your head. However, once I have the idea and need to make it real, then I’m just kidding myself if I think that going out for a cycle ride is helpful.
Nearly all my jobs seem to go down to the wire as the turnover times are always too tight. I’ve turned down offers of having work picked up by courier as I calculated I could cycle it over faster myself, thus buying me an extra hour for final touches.
I’m often guilty of fooling myself that I’m not time-wasting by suddenly deciding that I need to learn advanced 3D modelling, screenprinting, bookbinding or how to pick locks; buying equipment on eBay for developing film; or planning to walk the length of Britain. These are all things that I’ve genuinely done as part of my delusional ‘it’s not procrastination’ distractions. What I’ve found does help is to work certain hours.
If you have an evening when you know you’ll be working until 5am, then you’ll procrastinate more as time seems to be everlasting. If you can force yourself to plan a nine-to-five working day, and stick to it, then you’ll be more productive than bringing on intense all-nighters.
Deciding you absolutely need to have a snack is another classic procrastination technique. I’ve solved this by having a bag of nuts and a big bunch of bananas on my desk. They’re perfect brain and energy food to keep me going and focused. For personal projects, a good tip is to find a deadline – any deadline. Regardless of the type of project, there will be a relevant competition or festival. Choose one and then you’ll have a deadline you have to hit, if you don’t want to miss that chance.
If all that fails, @Procrastibot is a twitterbot I built that, if you follow it, will tweet “GET BACK TO WORK” throughout the day, hopefully snapping you out of your Twitter-stream hypnosis. I’ve calibrated it to Tweet the message at key peak procrastination times: 11am, 2pm and 4pm.