Getting Your Ducks in a Row: Organization or Procrastination?

Some time ago one of Suzanne Lieurance’s email “Morning Nudges” hit me between the eyes, and I printed it out as a reminder.

I see this week that I need the same nudge again.

Maybe you do too.

Ducks on Parade

“People will tell you that before you start on any new venture it’s a good idea to get all your ducks in a row,” Suzanne said. “And that is good advice. However, have you ever known people who spend ALL their time getting their ducks in a row? Heck, they spend so much time doing this, they end up getting OTHER people’s ducks in a row, too. It’s as if they feel they’ll never be ready to start something new, something really BIG, something wonderful! They need to spend just a bit more time getting those ducks in a row, and THEN they’ll be ready. Yet, that time just never seems to come.”

Does that describe you? Sometimes it describes me.

Ducks Out of Control

Like these past months…I met two nonfiction book deadlines, finished a novel rough draft, taught a workshop, and did several critiques. Now I’m facing a massive revision of a novel that grew all out of proportion. I hardly know where to start. So in order to clear the decks for some serious writing, I decided to take a week to get all my miscellaneous ducks in a row.

I had a marketing duck, a website update duck, a critique duck, a newsletter, and a research duck. (I also had several grandchild visits–very cute ducklings.) The writing ducks popped out of line repeatedly, but after fifty hours I got them lined up.

And now I’m facing next Monday with no excuses. The ducks are in a row. There is time to write. Now what? I find myself noticing other little ducks  swimming out of line. (e.g. I really should clean my office first because I work much better in a clean office. I really should go to the gym for my stiff back and the eye doctor for new computer glasses. I really should visit the scene of my novel again and take better photos. So many ducks–so little time!)

The Procrastination Duck

I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. Yes, it’s important to get your ducks in a row. You don’t want to dive into a project half prepared. You waste precious time that way–and turn out shoddy writing.

But when does organizing cross the line into procrastination? There’s a point where we’re just putting off the inevitable–that blank page or revision that panics us. Only you can tell for yourself. What signs let you know that you’re crossing the line–and it’s time to bite the bullet?

Quack, Quack!

Before we can sit down and write, we all have certain ducks we need to have lined up. For some, it’s a super clean desk. For others, it’s doing the dishes and starting the laundry. For still others, it’s certain rituals that need to be in place.

At what point, though, do you tell yourself that “enough is enough”? I’d love to hear what works for you!

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4 Responses to Getting Your Ducks in a Row: Organization or Procrastination?

  1. Kate Wilson says:

    This is SO me… except that I rarely get them all in their rows, so I never have to stop procrastinating. Quack!

    I do eventually tell myself, “Enough is enough,” but I’m not sure what tips the scale, and the ducks are still there quacking away and distracting me.

    Thanks for this post, Kristi.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Kate, this is sooooooooooooooo ME too! I find if I get a few ducks in a row before I go to bed that I do better. If I clear my office desk off, and make sure all the dishes are done and things are picked up, it helps me start the morning with fewer quacks to distract. Even so, more ducks seem to pop up all day long! One almost needs to put on blinders! :-)

  2. Juliana Lee says:

    I’d be fine if my ducks stayed put, but mine like to float in different directions! :)

    • kwpadmin says:

      Yes, therein lies the problem! :-) One needs to herd them into an enclosure of some kind–a “duck boundary,” so to speak!

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