Louise Minchin on her New Year resolution
PUBLISHED: 00:00 29 December 2017
Procrastination is the thief of time, they say. It certainly challenged Chester-based BBC TV presenter Louise...but not in 2018
In 2017 I discovered I was brilliant at something: procrastination.
At the start of the year I was commissioned by Bloomsbury, who publish JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, to write a book called Dare to Tri, about my adventures in triathlon, and my two-year journey from the BBC Breakfast sofa to the World Triathlon Championships competing in the GB age-group team. Given the daunting task of writing 70,000 words in six months, you might assume I would knuckle down and get on with it, using every spare snippet of time I had available. That didn’t happen.
Before I started, I imagined it would be easy to whip up a couple of paragraphs waiting for a coffee, finish a chapter on a train, or type up a race report while the children were doing their homework, but it was much more difficult than I thought. If I opened my computer in any of those situations, within seconds I would be looking at Twitter, replying to an email, checking the headlines, texting a friend, or even flicking through pictures of pugs on Instagram. I was a champion at time-wasting. It was impossible. I couldn’t stop myself being distracted and it very quickly became clear that there was no way the book would get finished if that’s how I tried to write it.
I needed to do something drastic and decided that the only option was a total internet blackout for a day at a time.
That’s how my writing days became sacrosanct. At 9am on the dot I would turn off my phone, put my iPad out of reach and sit down at the kitchen table and force myself to write for an hour-and-a-half, have a twenty minute break and then sit down for another hour-and-a-half until it was time to pick up my daughters from school. The only thing I might let myself do, occasionally, was throw a ball for Waffle, my very patient Labrador.
At first it was tricky, and I would catch myself out reaching for my phone like an automatic reflex, but once I got used to switching off all the distractions, I loved it, the hours flew by and the words soon became chapters. I started looking forward to my writing days and would be disappointed if I had to miss them.
Over those six months I learnt a valuable lesson, how to conquer procrastination, and as a bonus I wrote a book. Hopefully it’s a lesson I will remember for 2018, and it can be one of my New Year resolutions, no procrastination.